Thursday, December 31, 2009

happy new year!

My husband and I "celebrated" by buying champagne and leaving it in the fridge, and watching part III of our unintentional three-day horror movie marathon. The first movie was There Will Be Blood, then The Shining, and tonight was Paranormal Activity. There Will Be Blood was chilling, and has lingered the past few days in our house. We keep revisiting scenes, and Gabe has the main character's voice down, and uses it generously (i.e. shouting "I scoop it up", as he's by himself in the laundry room scooping up cat poop). He was similarly inspired by Jack Nicholson's performance in The Shining. He woke me up yesterday morning by crouching by my side of the bed at eye level saying "I'm not going to hurt you; I'm just going to bash your brains in!" (Yes, he knows he is VERY lucky to have found a wife that finds this amusing and not traumatizing.)

Paranormal Activity is an awesome haunted house story, but even better because you can't just leave the house. The kind of movie that makes you keep lights on at night. In between these horror movies we've also seen an OUTLANDISH action movie, which I think was on-purpose ridiculous, which makes it not so bad. The movie is even called Shoot 'Em Up, and he kills at least a handful of people with a carrot. Yep. And the other was Planet Terror, which Gabe said was an action movie but was like From Dusk Til Dawn with zombies.

So that's how we wrap up a decade - watching scores of people die on screen in countless different ways. Not so cheery, I suppose. We're both looking forward to what's in store for 2010, though neither of us have a clear vision of what's ahead. It's been hard for me to name goals, to focus a vision... I just feel curious about the future, more than intensely driven to create a specific future. It's a shift for me and I'm trying not to judge that. 2009 has brought so many big changes - quitting a job, settling in a new state, becoming a wife, beginning a new job.... It's been a wonderful, amazing year... and 2010 is its own big mystery full of changes.

I do have one concrete resolution, though, and that is to begin a certain new blog. Details soon!

Sunday, December 27, 2009


We just drove more than 10 hours to get from South Jersey to Chapel Hill. It was very slow going, a trip full of restlessness, dirty restrooms and bad fried food. I am home, and am resting with a cat purring on my tummy. I should sleep. I am enticed by the heated mattress pad we just put on, and our Christmas gift of 800 thread count sheets. Despite the luxury that awaits, I put off sleeping. Each night I do the same, even with sickness or exhaustion. My husband inevitably drifts off within a couple minutes, leaving me alone listening to his soft breathing. I always wonder where he has gone, and how he has gotten there so quickly. I envy him. Sleeping for me is such a process, one I usually dread. I usually have to go to bed before I really feel ready (which would be somewhere around 4-6 a.m.) As I try to sleep my mind swells with thoughts and images and lists, I'm oversensitive to every light and sound, my body feels it's time to move, I always need to pee, and my new tinnitus has not helped the situation.

My relationship with sleep, however, is still better than my relationship with waking up in the morning. It is violent, grudging, drenched in dreams. This morning Gabe woke me up with a song, and said 'time to wake up'. To which I replied 'no, it's simply a time. what you're saying is arbitrary.' Or something grumpy-sleepy like that.

It takes me a long time to sleep. It takes me a long time to wake up. I'm hoping I make better friends with both of these things in the New Year. At least I'm comforted by some beautiful poetry on the theme. Go for it, Margaret Atwood:

Variations on the Word Sleep

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head.

and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear

I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center. I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and you enter
it as easily as breathing in

I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.

Monday, December 21, 2009

review of a review

It's nearly 4 a.m. and I work tomorrow, so obviously I am up reading random things on the Internet. I saw a review of the movie "Nine" and remembered seeing a preview a long time ago and thinking wow, that looks really good. I read a few very normal paragraphs talking about the theme, and the cast. Then out of nowhere comes this line, in which Penelope Cruz talks to the interviewer:

“Guido is a very charismatic figure. Even his mental chaos is very attractive,’’ Cruz contends, accenting her words with more sizzle than her petite frame should be able to manufacture legally.

Huh? I'm baffled because it really was so unlike any other line in the review. And also because it doesn't make sense. How does one "manufacture" a sizzling accent? Maybe if she put on an accent I could almost understand. But she doesn't. And what does "legally" have to do with anything at all? The writing deteriorated from there, ending sentences with prepositions, and describing Nicole Kidman like this: "The veteran actress, generally pretty hard to read behind her sharp-angled face". I'm not so sure about 'behind' the face - don't they mean the face itself hard to read? Well, whatever. What struck me was 'generally pretty"... two adverbs in a row, both unnecessary.

I don't mean to be the writing police, but the writing so badly distracted me from the content I don't even know what I read - not unacceptable for a major newspaper. And I don't know why I'm even blogging about this, except that it's 4 a.m. and there's not a lot going on around here.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

a feline dilemma

Dear Abby,

I need some advice. I have two cats. One is Daphne, who is about 11. Ookie is 2. Ookie was little when we got her but then got big, very big. Daphne had always been a grazer so we always had food out. Ookie is like a dog, and eats anything, and lots of it. We tried different solutions and finally have settled on this one. We have an automatic feeder so a little bit of food comes out 3 times a day. But now Ookie is just ever-so-slightly slimmer and Daphne is getting pretty skinny. Plus the worst thing is that it's made them competitive. EVERY time the food dispenses, Ookie runs like all hell towards it and gobbles up food really fast, the whole time growling. When Daphne gets there, she bops Ookie on the head, eats her little bit, then Ookie can finish. They've worked out a system, and Daphne is ultimately the one in power, but I don't like the consequences.

Daphne probably isn't eating enough, since she only eats a very little bit three times a day. Ookie is consumed by the attainment of food. She will sit in front of the cat dispenser for hours. Literally hours. She licks the empty bowl. She scavenges around the kitchen floor for crumbs. It's painful to watch. I think we've given her an eating disorder because I'm always telling her to get out of the kitchen, stop getting fat, and I'll pull her away from food so Daphne can eat something too. The cats, though never best buds, seem more like enemies, with a lot more catfighting.

We can't leave food out all day because Ookie will get REALLY fat. We're not here enough to monitor separate eating times/rooms (plus that's crazy). We're not going to get two automatic dispensers with their different names on it, because they can't read.

Any advice?

Confused in Catville

Saturday, December 19, 2009

say what?!

My favorite-person-ever, Sarah Palin, has hit a new high in her ability to articulate intelligent arguments. This one is regarding climate change. She tweeted this, which I suppose accounts for her use of the English language in this way:

"Arrogant&Naive2say man overpwers nature". Note how she wisely and widely overlooks any evidence to the contrary.

In case that was not clear, she further elucidates:

"Earth saw clmate chnge4 ions;will cont 2 c chnges.R duty2responsbly devlop resorces4humankind/not pollute&destroy;but cant alter naturl chng"

She then goes on to talk about 'agenda-driven' science, but then again this is a woman who thinks evolution is absurd 'agenda-driven' science too. I understand how politicians have issues with cap and trade, might have different priorities, etc. but I didn't fully realize that some just denied our part in climate change altogether. Every time I read anything about this women, or see her on tv, I SWEAR TO GOD we're all being Punked.

Friday, December 18, 2009

pre-holiday, new-work buzz...

then crash. I'm able to write now because I'm sick, which means I've stopped moving, because it hurts to move. Well, a few hours ago that would have been true, but I seemed to have gotten better almost exactly 36 hours after it started, just as suddenly. I've never been so bizarrely sick. Yesterday I woke up really achy, with a wicked sore throat, headache, earache and a fever. All day I was sweating and I am ALWAYS cold. (Strangely, I was really hungry throughout all was it not flu then?) This morning I didn't feel much better but all within a couple hours the aches and fever left and the sore throat mostly went away. I'm still feeling weak and body-tired, but not feeling mildly deathly like yesterday. Hooray for immune systems.

The new job is going well, it's just going to take a while to get in a routine. Well, there probably won't be a routine, but at least I'll be able to navigate the chaos independently. I went to juvenile court for the first time and was grateful that somehow I found it easy to be a pretty good kid. I was surprised by a lot of things there, not least of which was one of the attorneys, with teased hair and really really high stilettos who kept putting on lip gloss as she sat on the bench. The judge herself was such a character. She spent at least 45 minutes on each case, doling out tough love so exuberantly you would have thought it was a made for tv movie. I've never before seen someone interrogate so inspirationally.

It is now one week before Christmas, and the combination of new job and sickness has put me behind on gift making. Okay, like I really would have been prepared otherwise. It's hardly felt like Christmas here, though, with above-freezing temperatures and no Christmas tree in the house.

But today it snowed! In Chapel Hill. Believe it or not. Very briefly, just enough to coat the cars, then rain. Apparently the stores were all out of milk and bread, because people here only see snow twice a year or so and they get very, very afraid. Which makes me sort of afraid of them.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

working girl

After a brief, yucky encounter with financial reality I applied to a bunch of jobs one week, interviewed the next, and started a job the week after that. My husband is admiring of my whirlwind waste-no-time process. Maybe a little too fast? I accepted a job and am still getting calls for interviews.

However, I have a really good feeling about this little mental health agency. It's run unlike any other, in a refreshing way. I also get a lot of flexibility and respect, which are key for me. (I'm not terribly good with authority.) I also get to introduce the arts and that's always fun! Oh, and I get to drive around beautiful countrysides with cows. I learned today that only 5% of American cows get to graze on grass or hay.

It's good to have some focus now, and some funds, but I'm trying to keep up some other little venture since I'll have some time for that. But now, time for a nap. I am so not used to getting up early.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

oh, the indignity!

if Miss Daphne could speak that is what she would have to say about this.

i was taking pictures of her the other day, and snapped the photo above. when she takes a bath, every once in a long while she'll lick herself and then forget to put her tongue back in her mouth for a minute. i laugh so hard, and she looks at me like i have a problem - while the whole time looking like that. i can't even believe i caught this rare phenomenon on camera.

in defense of daphne's fragile ego i'll post this picture of her napping. doesn't she look so peaceful and well put together with her fluffy tail and ballerina slippers?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

happy birthday

to me... I'm 32. Hmmph. Last year was great for the most part, and I think this year will be even better. I feel slightly older, but I suppose this is what happens. I am the oldest I've ever been :)

Gabe celebrated last night (not sure why) by getting me flowers, my favorite candy, beer from Mexico and a card. I was confused by the card, which wishes warm birthday thoughts 'from both of us to you'. Hmm... I opened and Gabe writes that now that we're married we're in this together - so he signed the card from both him and me. The man cracks me up.

Gabriel woke me up today with a serenade, and after a quick breakfast we went to the TechShop to learn laser etching and cutting. So many projects we can do now! The guy mentioned how the machine is prone to fires, so I am fairly certain this will happen on my watch. I am 32 and have not outgrown clumsiness; in fact, it's gotten much, much worse this past year. For example, today I burned myself with a glue gun, yesterday I hit my head hard on the pantry shelf, and two or three days ago I got a really nasty, big second degree burn on my forearm while making fried chicken. I had to get the 4"x4" bandages. However, that was my first attempt at fried chicken and it was SO good. I know they make it with buttermilk in the south, but my buttermilk smelled a little weird. So I mixed butter and milk :-/ In the flour part I mixed flour, obviously, pepper, sea salt, thyme, marjoram and cayenne.. I think that's it. It was like a magic chicken potion.. so yummy! I went back and forth with wet and flour twice, not sure if that helped.

Anyway, from TechShop we wandered Durham looking at houses on the market - there's tons but nothing especially called to us. And the neighbors were right, um, next door and I was already glum just looking at the place. I think I really want to live in the country. Then we ate lunch at a pub, went to The Scrap Exchange where Gabe got bored, and Home Depot where I got bored.

And now I'm home, curled up by the fire and making some crafts. It was a very good day, even thought it was by far the coldest one since we've moved. (Part of me got a little jealous of the Boston snow, I admit..) The picture below is some materials I'm using for my Christmas crafty gifts. If you can guess what I'm making I'll mail you a present! (And no guessing if I've already told you!)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

playing house

wow, a week with no blogging. it's been quite a full week. thanksgiving in south carolina, in which all teeth stayed in my head. i did have a nasty head cold, which went away surprisingly quickly after a few days. hooray for immune systems.

on sunday gabe and i celebrated our one month wedding anniversary. mostly by saying, 'wow it's been a month'. and then we saw a house. we were not planning on buying anything soon, especially since we have no money. (details, details.) but it was a fixer upper with tons of space and land for really cheap and i just had to check it out. turns out it was custom built only a few years ago, but then they ran out of money. so it's more unfinished house than a fixer upper. there's about 17 things that have to fall neatly in to place in order to get this. and we got an estimate on the amount of work that needs to be done and it's very substantial. so i'm not counting on anything. all i gotta say is wouldn't this be a nice front door to walk into each day?

and a nice kitchen to cook in every day?

and beautiful french doors to a beautiful deck overlooking acres?

and wouldn't this be a good place to unwind at the end of the day?

or maybe in the giant shower with THREE shower heads plus jets?

well, a girl can dream.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

honeymoon pictures, part two

here are some photos of my handsome husband-

it's really hard to get a picture of him without him trying to pose or be goofy. i like this picture because this is how he actually looks with a little smile.

this boy was so super happy to eat cold coconuts by the side of the road. like, really really really happy.


one night we had a sizable lizard friend on our ceiling. he wouldn't leave so this was the engineer's sophisticated method to urge him outdoors. neither of us are too squeamish about critters but this guy had something really repulsive about him. it had big sticky fingers, ran really fast, had creepy eyes, and he hung out on the ceiling like that scary scene of Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Here's a close-up.

honeymoon pictures, part one

i thought i'd post some pictures of sunnier times. here are some cozumel street scenes.

another stupid grey day and a stupid head cold and everything is stupid

that sums up the sentiment at our little household. gabe is a big old cranky pants. that is surprising, given that i'm the one that always wears the (cranky) pants around here. he pouted all during his lunch break and then scavenged for chocolate before going back to work. i am usually the chocolate fiend here too. it's cause for alarm, because usually he grounds me when my crankiness/moodiness/self-deprecation starts getting out of hand. i'm trying my best to tread water so that we both don't spiral down into a situation where we are both whining on the couch, not eating and forgetting to go outside all day.

ok, i'm being a tad overdramatic, but this week has seen a complete absence of our happy-go-lucky selves who are all contented smiles. i thought i had allergies yesterday because of a sudden onslaught of symptoms, but it's only progressed and i'm pretty sure it's a head cold. i'm living in a fog. for example: i left the house to go officially change my name. i've been letting it go day to day and i said no more, today is the day. so i left and in five minutes called gabe because i had forgotten to write down the address. about a mile from the social security office i realized i probably would need the marriage certificate. grrr!! i've also had insomnia all week and am at the point where i dread trying to go to sleep at night because i know it's not going to happen.

anyway. we need a good dose of sunshine, as gabe pointed out today, lying on the floor face down and whining 'i need the sun!', totally oblivious to the irony (he's a solar engineer). he pointed out to me that everyone is always happy in san diego all the time. apparently i'm not the only one who also passionately invokes skewed logic when wicked cranky.

but tomorrow is another day, and that day is thanksgiving. we're leaving for south carolina at 7 a.m. when i'll have had about an hour of sleep - what could go wrong? the plan is we will eat so much that we'll be preoccupied with gastrointestinal consequences and won't notice our jumbled, stressed-out minds.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

creative playground

Gabe and I had plans with a friend to go to the open art studios in Durham, but we got sidetracked when she mentioned there was an open house at TechShop. Gabe has been lusting after this place since he first heard about it, but the membership is expensive. We thought we'd at least check it out and see what we're missing.

This place is Gabe's Heaven on Earth. It's a huge place with workspaces, 3-d printers, wood shop, metal shop, silkscreening, sewing/serger/computer embroidery, laser and plasma cutters, welding, blacksmithing, electronics something or other, etc. Even glassblowing soon! We got a one hour tour and my brain was swimming with potential art and craft ideas. I actually had a headache.

On first glance this isn't a place with my name written all over it. (i.e. there are a lot of geeky men in there making robots.) The machine shop and saws and electronic anything I cannot imagine ever being friends with. But the place has a lot of classes, a collaborative atmosphere and I'm really excited to try about everything (except making robots). I have some ideas for photography things, mirrors, masks, frames, books, fabric creations.... Gabe's plan is to built a boat and heat pump.

We each signed up for 2 classes and a one-month membership at a crazy good price. Our main worry is that we're going to get hooked. But a lot of people use the center as a business maybe I'll get some good ideas and make a little store. Or not, we'll see.

So if anyone is looking to get either of us any gifts in the future, a gift certificate to here is number one on the list! Also, if you have any requests for anything we could make let us know! So excited!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

mid-week update

scene from a few doors down:

gabe and i went out in the middle of the night to see the leonid meteor shower. we didn't see so many, but it was fun to be out in the middle of nowhere at 1 a.m. there were actually a lot of people out, watching from bridges and fishing. the camaraderie was amazing, and humbling - lots of little people looking up at the vast universe...

i made crab and andouille sausage gumbo tonight. i even made my own crab stock:

these are cheddar corn muffins with jalapeno butter. i made it with white cornmeal and buttermilk so it came out sort of like a biscuit.

the end.

Monday, November 16, 2009

blissful sunday

Gabe and I camped out by our fireplace Saturday night, and I woke up Sunday morning to the smell of bacon. That's right, I got a homemade-by-husband breakfast and latte. How could this day go wrong? I also started a third book which is great so far, and just finished two wonderful books. (Yay books!)

After lazing around we realized it was 75 degrees and sunny and went for a bike ride. Gabe is a cyclist who built his own super fancy bike, and I have notoriously bad cardio ability. I warned him I'm not up for his usual 30 mile hilly expeditions. So we depart through our hilly apartment complex and I'm already exhausted, whining and carrying my bike up a hill. We turn left towards the countryside, and it is so ridiculously gorgeous - barns, horses, streaming sunlight, ponds, baby blue sky made more brilliant by the autumn leaves. (Yes, there are autumn leaves left in November.) However, this countryside has wicked hills. Gabe reminds me of the time he came back from a bike ride and he was sweaty and sore and said his route kicked his butt. This was the route. GRRR!!! It was beautiful, but man oh man. I had to tell my thighs if they could withstand the burn I would have pie later. (I made a great apple-cranberry-pecan pie with oatmeal cookie crust.)

One of the best parts of our 10 mile bike ride was a bunch of balloons that told us it was the Orange County Open Studio Tour. I wish I knew about it earlier in the weekend, but at least we saw one studio. This lady painted acrylics, watercolor, and made this bold enamel on steel/copper art. I immediately wanted to buy a kiln and try it out, but I tend to get overenthusiastic about these things. She had a lovely house set back in the woods and Gabe and I agreed it's exactly like the house we want to buy someday (next year?).

Once we were home and showered, we made use of the gift certificate his co-workers gave us to a fancy steakhouse, where we ate a lot, and brought even more home. Ribeye, filet mignon, crabcakes, martini, manhattan, potatoes, salad, seafood gumbo, onion rings, and three desserts (in our defense, the assertively bubbly waitress gave us the chocolate cake on her own). Which reminds me I promised Gabe I'd figure out how to make the seafood gumbo.

This week I'm going to learn how to make candy, figure out how to start a business, and write 2 hours a day. And make a kickass seafood gumbo.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

middle-aged lady yoga, part two

We did calf stretches for 8 minutes, holding a minute in each position. The teacher suggested we tell jokes or limericks to fill the silence. (Yes, an interesting technique for mindfulness.) I listened to a few, and then a lady told this joke:

Why did the proper Southern lady stop going to orgies?
Because there were too many thank-you letters to write.

Everyone laughed, and I figured the door was opened to let in regional jokes. So I told them I was born in New Jersey, and here's my joke:

Why are New Yorkers so depressed?
Because the light at the end of their tunnel is NJ.

I erupted in laughter, that joke gets me every time. The ladies all puffed and hmmm..ed, generally looking slightly embarrassed, and made some comments about how they have heard New Jersey is lovely.

I don't know what went wrong, but apparently NJ derision is not as strong as in the Northeast, or we only poke fun of Southerners in these parts. Or we don't say depressed? Or generally we're just as nice as possible, all the time?


I think Fall has officially hit North Carolina (now that we're in November). It's the third day of rain, wind and chill. For the first time I have seen people in jackets, and leaves coat the wet streets. I've been indoors the past couple days but knew I needed to get out of the house today.

First I went to a coffee shop to write for a bit. Leaving the distraction of the meowy cats and messy kitchen, I instead was distracted by tvs, radio, other patrons, the waitress, etc. Eventually I thought a library would be a better environment, and set out for Carrboro. I love nearly everything about that town so thought their library would be awesome as well. Apparently the library is connected to the elementary and middle schools and it was 2:30, so I followed an endless parade of SUVs in a circle without a parking spot to be seen. Hmph.

I did all this in gym clothes. It's my new strategy to make friends with my gym. With our apartment rental we get a free membership to the gym. We've been maybe 4 times. It's not a great gym, it's a drive, I've been occupied. But now with my newfound time (see post below) there are no excuses. I figure if I put on gym clothes in the beginning of the day I'll get there eventually. (It also helps delay the putting away of the summer clothes and bringing out the winter ones.)

I decided to go to yoga at 4. With some extra time I stopped at the thrift store. Probably because my allergies weren't bad enough. (After feeling great in Mexico, and now blowing blood into a tissue each morning, I've come to accept that yes, I am the crazy cat lady who is allergic to cats.) The most surprising thing that happened in the thrift store is I found a pair of pants that fit me. The second most surprising thing was that an older man came up to me in the book section telling me how much he loves books, how many he has in his home, how he loves cookbooks the best. In Spanish! Without waiting for a response. Now I'm not one to be pegged as Spanish speaking. So either he is intuitive, or is just really really lonely. I resisted the urge to buy an old afghan of unknown origin that reminded me of my grandmom, as well as pounds of lace that I had initially convinced myself I'd make into something fabulous. (If someone has crafty ideas for lace let me know.)

Then off to yoga, where I discovered that though my socks were both striped they were of different colors. I felt very uncomfortable, not out of embarrassment, but rather some latent OCD behaviors. On yoga mats, it was me and seven middle aged ladies. The teacher was lovely and sweet, and strange looking. She had a voice of a teenager but had a shock of white hair and looked very skeletal. I suppressed fits of giggles as she started the class. Her breathy assertions of "just like that", "that's good", "a little bit more" were a little TOO breathy and repetitive. She simmered down, though, but then started with the breathing imagery. Kiss of breath, your breath like butterflies over wildflowers, surf your breath, etc. I am so glad Gabe wasn't with me, we would have lost it. I discovered some new space in my spine, and stretched out an inch so I cannot complain. The fifteen minute sivasana was rejuvenating.

I am glad for the Fall. I really dislike being cold, but cold weather allows for different kinds of warmth: blankets, hot baths, steam rooms, spiced cider, oven-warmed kitchens, fireplaces, steamed milk, Christmas lights.

Monday, November 9, 2009

floating in space

well, more like time.

all at once, my mental health license application is in, wedding and honeymoon planning is over, scuba certification is done, and my obligations with IEATA are over. my to-do list has dwindled to a few very manageable tasks. this evening found me wandering around the house with no real purpose (except to avoid the pile of clean laundry on the bed). i moseyed (sp?) to the kitchen and made pecan cookies and cranberry-nut rolls. perhaps later i'll read a book. or not, i don't know.

this sudden assault of leisure time, combined with 75 degree temperatures in mid-november, has left me disoriented. i quit my job in august, but had been busy since. now i'm really feeling the trickle of minutes luxuriously spilling out of the clock (hmm... does she continue some bizarre metaphor or no...). no.

so what to do with all the minutes up for grabs? one, write. for real this time. i'm starting with 2 hours a day, so it feels manageable. feel free to hold me accountable on any given day. i've thought about writing a book since i was seven, and it's high time discipline caught up to ambition. two, get some jobby job part-time. i'm finding it very difficult however to find anything in my field unless i'm licensed, which still will take a few months (i need one class that wasn't required in MA). and cook. and take pictures. and figure out some crafty christmas presents, perhaps. if i think up an entrepreneurial venture that takes little money to start up i may substitute that for the jobby job. if i can sustain writing for more hours a day that may temporarily substitute for the jobby job. fortunately, i have an amazingly supportive husband who would love to see my dreams manifest at least as much, if not more, than me. he's encouraging me towards the last option.

speaking of husbands, i said it aloud for the first time (in english) since we were married. i spoke to maintenance at our apt. and said something like this:

"my husband says our toilet is broken. i'm not sure how. some valve thing. flapper? it's definitely some valve. he said it's leaking water but there's no water that i see. flush valve? flapper? he told me numerous times. sorry, i forget."

it was all very romantic. and see, there's proof that some gender stereotypes are alive and kicking in our household :)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

pictures of people

I have a real problem taking pictures of people I don't know. Even if they are in the background, with other cares than a girl with a camera many yards away. I feel it's intrusive, disrespectful...what if they have a phobia of cameras and I make them pass out? This part of me battles with my inner photographer. Like when I walked, camera in hand, and saw two laughing boys in Cozumel hitting a pinata in the front porch of their home. What an amazing shot! vs. That's their home! I just couldn't do it.

So during two weeks of picture taking there are only two pictures that include people I don't know. This is one:

This is an example of the tourists I mentioned two posts ago. Aloha shirt, check. Sunhat with balloons, yes balloons, check. High heels for walking on cobblestones, check. Map, not checked - hence the pointing. I am 95% sure they are on their way downtown for a yard of beer.

For Day of the Dead we heard there was an event at the local cemetery. Gabe and I walked and saw a throng of people gathered listening to a religious service, many holding flowers. I felt intrusive being anywhere near there with a camera bag, even, so we turned around. A block further I saw these colors, these girls and just HAD to shoot a quick picture. That's why it could have been composed better, and I'll edit it later, but I still love it.

what marriage means in texas

On our flight back from Cancun we went through Houston. Custom forms in one hand, Gabe and I waited in line. We were enjoying our recent designation as family, and I made some silly comments about changing the cats' last names, too.

As we got to the counter we each handed the man our forms. He asked if we were married, and we said yes, very recently. He immediately tore up a form into pieces, threw it in the trash, marked a "2" on the other and handed it back to Gabe. He spoke to him the rest of the time and then we said our goodbyes and headed to our luggage.

What had just happened? It took a minute to sink in. Apparently I no longer counted as an individual. I felt shock at the pureness of the metaphor. My name, my form, torn up and discarded. I now was the "2", the second party, on Gabriel's form. I wasn't so much angry as in awe. The man is head of the household, I was told, on my return to America.

At first I tried to blame it on Texas. (I've been in a Texas airport four times in the past year, and have always heard at least one conversation that includes a man talking about his gun collection.) But then again, I couldn't imagine any customs department anywhere in America that would tear up the man's form and hand the information to the woman.

What a little incident, one that needs no feminist uprising, one that could have been easily disregarded, but one that says so much about gender dynamics in our culture. I am happy to be a wife, happy to change my last name even, happy to make a little family with the man I love. I just wrongly assumed that there would be an acknowledgment of equality in a two-person household.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

luna de miel

I am writing from North Carolina. The sounds of Cozumel are half a day behind me, and loudly absent. The rooster calls, the dogs barking, the gasoline truck's jingle (like Mr. Softee), mopeds skimming through puddles, Mexican music, the shouts of soliciting shopkeepers, and Spanish language everywhere.

I had the best traveling buddy this past week. I now call him my husband. (I've actually never said that out loud to anyone in English yet, only Spanish.) I could have landed myself a husband that wears Hawaiin shirts, balloon hats, and carries around a yard of beer when traveling. But we had an immediate unspoken agreement to avoid the tourist stores and restaurants. We ventured deeper into the city, practiced our spanish, and ate only mexican food except for one meal. We talked to the locals about hurricanes and their families, and ate at many lunch spots that literally were in people's homes, where no english was spoken. And here I'd like to give a special shout out to my stomach. You were awesome!! I normally have a very over-sensitive tummy and even with 2 weeks in Mexico, eating some adventurous dishes, and not being very careful about ice and such I didn't get sick!

The highlight of our honeymoon was the diving. Oh my god. Holy crap!! I thought scuba diving there would be great, but I was in no way prepared for the awesome, transcendental experience it was. (I was a bit surprised at how I almost drifted away in one current, and had not one but two technical difficulties with equipment, but that's another story.) On our very first dive, in the very first few minutes, we saw a huge Moray eel. It was moving in the open sea and looked like a Chinese dragon in a parade. We saw schools of fish all over, and a grouper bigger than me that swam alongside me in a tunnel. So many sting rays, and an absolutely incredible eagle ray that was about 7 feet long - it looked like it was flying through the ocean. We saw a nurse shark, a stone fish, barracudas, parrotfish, and sea turtles. Big sea turtles. The coral was stunning - so many colors and tunnels and life teeming throughout. We did a night dive in the pitch black night, with flashlights, and saw octopus, rays, lobster and crabs. The ocean was lit up with bioluminescent plankton, so it looked exactly like swimming through stars. That, combined with the weightlessness, made me feel like an astronaut on a different planet.

There is much more, but I had a long day of traveling and it's time to shower and sleep. More stories, and wedding details/pictures to follow. It was all incredible, and I feel so unbelievably blessed to be married to Gabriel and to have had such a wonderful wedding and honeymoon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

i've always done my best work under pressure...

NOW I get the great ideas for the wedding. the personalized touches. the ideas for the ceremony. the inspiration for our songs. NOW. a couple days before we leave.


i've had a busy but productive time of late, and even got my licensure application all ready for the mail today. we're about to book our honeymoon in cozumel. most everything is done except for the packing and some minor details.

i am getting VERY excited. it seemed for a long time that this wedding was something to be planned, not something to be actually experienced. and though we probably could be better prepared, i'm giddy with the realization that we are actually going to be by the beach, waves rolling in, as i say my vows to my sweetheart.

instead of the normal anxiety and self-criticism, i'm even feeling love for our mutual inability to make decisions until the absolute last minute. weird. i think there's something in the air that's making us both wacky. gabriel even got a faux hawk and HIGHLIGHTS today. my sweetie, who has never uttered the word 'product', who happily goes to work with bedhead, who gets a haircut the exact day hair gets in his eyes - he got highlights. crazy times...

Monday, October 19, 2009

cooking in the midst of chaos

I thought I'd make a quick, nice dinner tonight. I haven't cooked in a few days and was feeling antsy, but I also didn't want to take a bunch of time away from wedding planning. So I got steak, an avocado and crab clusters (on sale at the supermarket, never before purchased). I thought I'd make steak - very quick- and a crab/avocado salad stuffed back in the avocado shell. Back at home I realized I should have gotten some cilantro, or scallions, or at least lemon/lime to bring this all together but oh well. I steamed the crab for a few minutes, got the steaks ready and was very proud of myself for creating a 5 minute yummy meal. But then I had an aha moment. Aha! The crab meat is stuck inside the crab shell. Aha! I don't have shellfish utensils. My fiance suggested pliers, and I had the ingenious idea of using a chopstick to help push it out. So my quick dinner turned into an hour of me laboring over crab with pliers and a chopstick. A comical, but very unproductive, use of time.

Dinner turned out great in the end!

pre-wedding chaos

Posts will be far and few between over the next few weeks, sad to say. We're leaving before dawn on Saturday for a two-week stay in Mexico. That leaves four days to finish writing the ceremony, gather music, decide wedding songs, various other wedding thingies, do laundry, clean house, pack, apply for licensure, book honeymoon, etc. It's a busy time.

In other news, I am officially PADI open water certified! We did our open water dives this past weekend. It was a grey windy 53 degrees both days (an anomaly here), and the water was 64 degrees. Given the fact that I ended up shivering in 89 degree pool water, my instructor brought me 3 layers of wetsuit and I still thought I'd get hypothermia. COLD. The worst was being already freezing cold, in a bathing suit, and faced with the prospect of peeling on a cold wet suit. My body was like girl what do you think you're doing?! And once the suit is on it's little comfort because you lug on many pounds of gear and walk to cold water to freeze there. It was a long weekend.

We dove in a quarry where visibility was 5-8 feet, super murky. We swam through an old rusty bus 30 feet down - it was one of the most ghostly experiences I've ever had. I fought off bouts of primal panic throughout the weekend, but they were fleeting. Overall it was challenging but fun, and I am really excited to dive in Mexico. I could use some easy dives in clear water to build up my confidence...dives that don't include taking regulators out of your mouth, taking off the scuba gear underwater, emergency ascents and taking off your mask and swimming around.

Though my upcoming posts may be sparse, I promise lots of amazing pictures come November!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Another thing off the list:

I am not big into jewelry, at all, but even I have to admit these are stunning. (It's hard not to have nice wedding bling when your mom's husband is a diamond/jewelry dealer - thanks Dave!)

Monday, October 12, 2009

getting all ansel adams on mother nature's ass

That's what my eloquent fiance said I was doing when I showed him some of these pictures, taken at Brookgreen Gardens in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The only picture I am disappointed with is the one of the blue heron. It was so prehistoric and beautiful and weird, and it just isn't captured. (You can see it on the Gardens' website, though.) I was enamored with this creature. Later I realized this is the bird that Richard Powers ruminated on in his book The Echomaker. Yeah, this book won the National Book Award. Yeah, it has a wonderful title. Yeah, the plot sounds irresistibly interesting. Yeah, it got a glowing review on NPR that made me buy it for friends and family before even reading it myself. DON'T READ THIS BOOK!!!! It is atrocious. I am not saying it's uninteresting, or it has slightly too many adverbs, or the characters could have been developed more, or twenty pages could have been cut out. I am saying ALL the pages should have been cut out, and I could have examined a splinter for 10 hours and had a better time. This was easily the worst 'good' book I've ever read. Go ahead and read it to prove me wrong, but don't say you haven't been warned. And don't be fooled by the first two pages which make you think the tome may be a poetic metaphor. The other hundreds of pages are written like a fourth grader.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Amphibious fun

It has happened that I have too much too blog about and too little time. Last Wednesday I went to Myrtle Beach for a beach break and to do a bit of wedding planning. To my surprise my dad, his wife Denise and my Aunt Neicey threw me a little bridal shower! So nice. Thursday was spent at these beautiful gardens and I took hundreds of pictures (to follow), along with bikini and wedding supply shopping. And on Friday we went to the beach (it was 86 and sunny on October 9th - I may never move willingly north of the Mason Dixon line again) - it was so hot and lovely and I started getting very excited for Mexico! (And a bit anxious - we'll be there in two weeks now.)

Saturday, today, Gabriel and I started our scuba training. We breezed through the academics since we're nerds, and then hopped in the pool. Okay, hopped is completely the wrong word. That tank is HEAVY for a 100 pound girl. In case that's not enough, there's a weighted belt and tubes everywhere. You get a mask and snorkel so you can't see well, and fins so you can't walk well. I've never felt so cumbersome. The first time we go underwater it's to breathe, and I realize quickly that it is very easy and natural to panic in a situation like this. I'm talking the clinical definition of panic, too. After a few breaths we pop back up and our instructor explains that next time down we're going to take out the breathing apparatus underwater, constantly exhale, throw the apparatus behind us and try to retrieve it two different ways. Pop it back into our mouths, blow the water out and continue breathing. Umm.. ok. He demonstrates underwater and points to Gabe, who does both like a pro. I signal that we need to have a little talk above water. No way am I ready for that, I politely say. I need to pee, and besides that, I need to swim around breathing underwater a while before I get comfortable enough to take my one link to oxygen OUT of my mouth. Not to mention time to get acquainted with the tubes and buttons all over my body.

To my credit, within a half an hour I was happily swimming around like a fish, and by the end of the day I didn't even panic when I was 12 feet underwater and my breathing tube came out and starting gushing a stream of pressurized air. I asked a lot of questions today to compensate for my total lack of technical intuitiveness, but now feel like I understand enough to not die. (This is important.) It's also nice to dive with someone that uses this equipment once and then could design his own. (And who is now, after midnight, watching a downloaded 'How It's Made' episode on scuba gear.)

I took 614 pictures on my Myrtle Beach trip and am so impressed with our little camera. I want to share lots and am not sure if I should put them on this blog, or start a flickr account, or some such thing. I'll figure it out soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fall cooking

I love fall for its beautiful leaves, the smell of fireplaces and especially the food. Fall has proved to be disorienting in North Carolina. I am used to wearing sweaters by now in Boston, and hearing crunching leaves on the sidewalk, and feeling the creeping internal fear of winter. Here it's been chilly a few times in the morning, the leaves are are tinged yellow but not nearly crunchy, and we're more likely to hit 80 degrees than need to use the fireplace.

One thing is reassuringly the same and this is fall flavor. I walked into the supermarket last week and found aisles of apples, apple cider, squash, and pumpkin. It's heartwarming for me. When we had visitors last Friday I made some fall yumminess.

This, folks, is an apple peeler/corer.

My Aunt Boo gave me this for Christmas a couple years ago and it makes apple-heavy kitchen labor a cinch. I nearly impaled myself on it this go-around but avoided disaster with a little help from my engineer fiance. Here's a before and after shot of the apple:

I used the simple bread dough ratio from the amazing cookbook Ratio. (I'll spare you another rave review of the book this time.) I sauteed apples and butter and sage, and it's an instant solution to make your house smell like Fall Heaven.

I originally tried to mix in the apples with the yeast dough but realized soon that this is impractical. So at the end I put the apple mixture on top of rolled-out dough and rolled it up jelly roll style. Here is what miraculously emerged out of the oven:

It is not the greatest picture and I'm not going to be able to describe to you how good this was. It was damn good. Maybe I'll post the recipe.

I've never made any candy, but tried a modified pumpkin seed brittle recipe. I didn't have a candy thermometer, so had to ditch my first effort. But the second effort yielded gorgeous and yummy brittle. So fun to make!

I served the bread with two local cheeses and cinnamon cream cheese. Add grapes and brittle and you've got yourself a wonderful fall spread. If you are an astute observer, you will notice wine is missing from this picture. We tried a NC sweet muscadine red wine that was sweet and light. This picture could be titled Home:

Fall so far gets my approval here even though it's taking it's time to arrive. It's also too warm here to go apple picking. Too warm! Imagine that! And my body does not believe the weather facts and the countless statements from locals that it will generally be the 50s in the winter, that things bloom until December, and other things start blooming in February. It is gathering wood, root vegetables and blankets, and bracing itself for six to seven months of icy chill.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Another day, another food tour

This past weekend my mom and her husband Dave visited our new hometown and we took a whirlwind tour on Saturday. Mostly a tour of food. We did Taste Carolina's Durham food tour. We learned a lot about the town's tobacco industry history:

We visited the American Tobacco complex. There was a family festival, so lots going on, including this great band:

Out of nowhere came this scary-ass clown:

We went to six restaurants and had a tasting at each. This is the mushroom dumpling at Rue Cler:

There was A LOT of walking, but it was fun (see fun pictured below):

A mural in Durham:

This was crostini and amazing butternut squash soup at Toast, a paninoteca in downtown:

And we had LOCOPOPS!!! I have raved about them before, and now we got to meet the owner! She is a lady who was in IT middle management and hated it but didn't know what to do next. She had paletas one weekend (Mexican popsicles), quit her job on Monday, sold her house, and drove her dog in a jeep to Mexico to learn the popsicle making trade. Now she's a successful business owner here. So inspirational, huh? She said she got the name from her parents' opinion of her new venture. Mom and Dave had a pumpkin spice popsicle, I had passion fruit margarita and Gabe was brave and had a truffle mushroom popsicle.

We then took Mom and Dave to a couple restaurants in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Many a martini was had, and some amazing barbecued quail at Cypress on the Hill, easily the best dish of the day. It's now officially surpassed Acme as my favorite restaurant in these parts. We all came home fat and happy, and even managed to have a big brunch the next day at famous Crooks Corner. (I think their food suffered a bit with the rush of brunch, but I'd go back at a slower time. And who serves hushpuppies with marinara sauce?)

It was fun to show them around town, because I realized I know the place so much better (obviously) than when we first moved. I also got a new appreciation of Durham through the tour. It's so awesome to see the town developing into a unique, artsy community with a great restaurant scene. I'm so used to the Northeast where everything was established in Pilgrim-time, or at least Thomas Jefferson-time.

Have I mentioned I love living here?


Related Posts with Thumbnails