The moment you find out you’re pregnant, you voraciously devour information regarding your own health and that of the developing thing (just kidding, little one!) inside of you. There is no shortage of guidelines, lists, forums, and horror films whose sole purpose seem to intent on scaring the bejesus out of helping you.
I wrote this and it was published on McSweeney’s.
A few months ago, an acquaintance of mine passed away. He wasn’t just any acquaintance; he was the best friend of one of my best friends, Leslie, and just a gem of a human. She wrote this really beautiful ode to him today and I wanted to share.
While googling just, you know, stuff, I found this completely useless post. Sigh.
One of my very favorite things when I first started travelling to Texas was Ruth’s biscuits and gravy. I had never had anything like it. Being an umami girl, it changed breakfast for me forever.
Until I became vegetarian.
One of the things I missed most during that 11 year stint was that divine meal. And even though I’ve since re-incorporated cow and fish, the fact that I still don’t eat swine means I steer clear of traditional gravy. A couple of years ago I was introduced to Pine State Biscuits in Portland and more recently The Wandering Goose in Seattle, both of whom have vegetarian gravies. (Pine State wins, btw). But since Los Angeles has not yet figured out what they’re missing, I knew I had to figure out a scalable solution to my frequent craving.
Today I set out to master vegetarian gravy. I’m happy to say, I’ve found a really great recipe. I tried this one. I made a few substitutions, partly because I had to and partly ’cause that’s what I do. I substituted fresh mushrooms for dried, leak for shallot, heavy cream for light cream (what is light cream, anyway?), red wine for sherry, and tamari for soy sauce (which is technically kind of the same thing). It turned out delicious!
Now to master the biscuits…
I spent Friday and most of this weekend laid up in bed with a sore throat, phlegmy lungs, and a one-for-the-road migraine. I got loopy. So I drew this.
I basically love making stuff. Especially for friends. This Christmas, Ryan and I decided to make Snickers bars and package them in customized-etched French mason jars. (Here’s an example of the ones that we made for our friends, Jeff and Sabrina.)
It’s safe to say the Snickers took a few tries. Thank god glass etching is easy. I’m the sort of person who, once I get it in my head that I’m making something, will not be deterred by say, trying to make caramel one billion five times. Eventually they turned out great though, so I thought I’d share the recipe, which I’ve customized from the original. I used organic ingredients where possible, and where not, the best possible GMO-laden counterparts.
Homemade (Hella Messy) Snickers Bars
Time: Seriously, probably six hours.
Serves: A bunch? 30?
First, grease a pan with butter. Make sure you do this adequately, otherwise the bars will be a mug to cut later. I have made these twice, and both times used different sized pans. Size, ahem, doesn’t matter. Second, make the:
Bottom chocolate layer:
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
Melt the chocolate chips and peanut butter in a medium saucepan over med-low heat. Make sure you don’t burn the chocolate. You might be inclined to use a double-broiler ’cause you’re fancy. There’ll be a point when the chocolate mixture is, like, 98% smooth and that’s when to pull it off the burner. If you keep it on longer, the chocolate will get little hard chunks in it and you’ll feel like a failure. So once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat, pour it into the greased dish, and let cool for about 30-45 minutes. Then you will make:
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. marshmallow creme (I like this stuff)
1/4 c. smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 c. salted peanuts, roughly chopped
1 1/2 t. vanilla extract (Here’s how to make your own)
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add in the sugar and milk, dissolving and bringing to a boil. Let it cook for just under 5 minutes, stirring. (Avoid burning the milk.) Add in the fluff, peanut butter and vanilla, and stir ’til it’s smooth. I find that I have to turn down the heat a little when I add the marshmallow, etc., since I’ve made the mistake of overcooking the nougat. You’ll know it’s over-cooked because it’ll turn slightly grainy, but will still taste delicious. Remove it from the heat and stir in the peanuts. Pour over the chocolate, and let it cool for say, an hour. The next step will be to make the:
I’ve adapted this from The Perfect Scoop, which is a really awesome book if you ever want to make your own ice cream.
6 T. unsalted butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 c. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. fleur de sel (I use Malden’s)
Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan over med-high heat, add the sugar and stir frequently until sugar is a golden brown. Remove the sugar mixture from the heat as soon as you see it start to smoke a little. (Note: It’s super easy to over-cook sugar. WATCH IT LIKE A HAWK.) Pour half of the heavy cream in slowly. Use caution and possibly a face guard, as the mixture will start to boil like an episode of Breaking Bad. Add the remaining cream, vanilla and salt, stirring constantly. In the event that you have little bits of toffee forming, just remove them. Place your caramel in the fridge and let it thicken up for about an hour or two. When it’s chilled, pour over the nougat. Lastly, you will make the second batch of:
*See above for instructions.
When everything is mixed and settled, place the Snickers in the fridge for at least an hour.
To serve, cut into individual pieces, place into little pieces of wax paper, and seal with cute craft-store painters tape. Your friends will (probably) love you.
When will people realize that gun proliferation is NOT working, and maybe, just maybe, we should try something else?
In the wake of the CT elementary school tragedy, there are, of course, arguments across FB and Twitter about gun rights. Pro-gun nuts suggest that if citizens had been armed at the elementary school, then maybe this tragedy wouldn’t have occurred. As a person who could qualify for a gun license, I have zero desire to ever carry a concealed weapon. As a person who goes to public places like malls (when I can’t avoid it), I also have zero confidence in common citizens to somehow thwart a gunman on the loose. Friendly fire is a thing. It happens. Even with the best intentions. And if we need an example of the havoc caused when citizens take the law into their own hands, look at Florida’s disastrous “Stand Your Ground” law.
We are not living in the eighteenth century anymore, and at some point our thinking and laws should reflect that.
“The next real literary ‘rebels’ in this country might well emerge as some weird bunch of anti-rebels, born oglers who dare somehow to back away from ironic watching, who have the childish gall actually to endorse and instantiate single-entendre principles. Who treat plain old untrendy human troubles and emotions in U.S. life with reverence and conviction. Who eschew self-consciousness and hip fatigue. These anti-rebels would be outdated, of course, before they even started. Dead on the page. Too sincere. Clearly repressed. Backward, quaint, naive, anachronistic. Maybe that’ll be the point. Maybe that’s why they’ll be the next real rebels. Real rebels, as far as I can see, risk disapproval. The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal: shock, disgust, outrage, censorship, accusations of socialism, anarchism, nihilism. Today’s risks are different. The new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the ‘Oh how banal.’ To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness. Of willingness to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law. Who knows. ” – David Foster Wallace
**Thanks to my friend Sarah for passing this along.
Because I work in a largely left-brained job, I crave right-brained activities for balance. At the beginning of the year I started a side project called 5.things about you. It’s a pretty simple idea — random people post five things about themselves that they like or appreciate — yet the simplicity is inverse to the amount of joy I get from reading about people I don’t know.
I am not sure why. I know that I love seeing the diversity of lists (I’m funny, I make art of all kinds, I have the balls — er, ovaries — to do things that scare me) and cultures (Spain, London, Illinois, Equador). But mostly it’s the earnestness that touches my heart. It’s like watching someone dance as if no one is looking.
I really hope that those people who believe homosexuality is a sin are diligent in documenting their views. Because it’s going to be awesome in thirty years when a future generation looks back on their grandparents and are like, Jesus, they were ignorant.
“I learned there that the funniest thing in the world is not a group of men, nor is it a group of women. It’s women and men working together. And if you want to make a collaborative, funny project, be it a sketch group, an improv show, a movie or a TV show, you better the fuck involve women and men together in your endeavor, or it simply won’t be all that it could be.”
Rob perfectly captures the essence of the women-aren’t-funny-tired-as-hell argument. It’s not about making Adam Carolla NOT funny, nor is it about insisting that women ARE funny. So thank you, Rob.
Also, I wrote this on EJ!
Another day, another dude saying women aren’t funny. Good one.
This time, it’s Adam Carolla, the guy behind his own podcast. “The reason why you know more funny dudes than funny chicks is that dudes are funnier than chicks,” he says. As evidence he cites Joy Behar and Roseanne Barr. Perhaps, in an effort to appear objective, he then praises Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, and Kathy Griffin. Come on, Adam, everyone knows Kathy Griffin isn’t funny.
Adam says it’s just a numbers game:
“When you’re picking a basketball team, you’ll take the brother over the guy with the yarmulke. Why? Because you’re playing the odds. When it comes to comedy, of course there [are] super-funny chicks. But if you’re playing the odds? No.”
And that’s where it doesn’t add up. I’m not expecting Adam to be a scholar or even analytical. He’s a talk show host. His job is to be quippy. He shouldn’t have to also think about what he says, even though comedians sort of, well, do that. No, that’s what Ivy League interns are for. So maybe at some point, he’ll get lucky enough to have one of those interns point out that the number of “funny” women in the spotlight is proportionate to the amount of women applying. And proportionate to the number of women in decision-making positions in Creative.
I work at a vastly male-dominated company. Like, it’s not even close. To their credit, they recently undertook a study to figure out why there is not greater representation of women throughout all levels within our consulting practice. Guess what the study found? That women are dumber than men. That when you recruit at schools and in programs largely male, you end up hiring more men. That when there are not a lot of women in leadership positions, that the absence could discourage women from believing that there is meaningful opportunity for advancement. Guys, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So, I’m sorry, Adam, that in your anecdotal experience women weigh the writing team down. Bummer. Guess what, though? Turns out, it’s a numbers game.
This is my breakfast today. Basically, my entire approach to food is captured in this photo.
There is nothing worse than a creative void. You know, that place where even a three-line haiku seems monumental? Save few exceptions, I’ve been dwelling (dwindling?) in that place of worse-than-nothingness for almost this entire year, which is like almost five months if you count them out. The worst part about creative voids is that they’re motherscratchers to shake because you basically feel like doing nothing but eating really good nachos and reading Huff Post.
So I decided to do something about it. Actually, I was inspired to do something about it by some good ole fashioned competition. I was telling someone I work with about my “3 for 30″ campaign – this thing I made up a couple of years ago in which I do three things a day for thirty days: one nice thing, one active thing, one creative thing — when he unexpectedly bit. I wasn’t trying to sell him anything but he decided he wanted to try it. And then I decided to do it again too, on account of refusing to be outdone by someone fresh out of college . Come to think of it, that happens all of the time. Whatever.
Anyway, the last few days have been really fun. Here is a partial list of the things I’ve done on this endeavor:
* Crashed my bike (err, my bestie’s bike) riding around the neighborhood.
* Happened upon a jazz concert at LACMA in which I pretended to work at registration so I could sit up close.
* Let someone cut in front of me in line. Wait, no I didn’t.
* Gave my friend one of my airline upgrades. This may also be why she got sick this weekend. Whoopsie.
* Practiced yoga in my hotel room after eating my weight in fried pickles for dinner. I did lots of twists until I got bored and drifted to hip openers. That always happens.
Already I see the fog lifting. I can’t wait for what’s in store for the rest of the month.
Much to my delight, at least one airline in the world has come to their senses and is now offering child-free zones, something I have been setting my intentions on the New Moon and Full Moon for, for like, ever. Unfortunately, that airline is Malaysian Airlines, which I’m not even sure is real. It may be some time before my weekly flights on American or its partners are no longer dotted with ear-splitting whines. Regardless, I take this recent development as a glimmer of hope signifying meaningful evolution for airline travel. Moreover, if it’s possible to establish child-free zones, then maybe the sky (ha!) really is the limit!
Today, shackled into 21F for almost five hours on the way to EWR, I came up with a couple of more offerings using a simple stick-or-carrot model. I have also outlined viable implementation plans, which, along with the models, might just be the ticket (ahem) to revitalizing the entire airline industry.
1. Gas-free zones
Although I would be the first to fork over cash to never have to bury my head in my shirt because the guy sitting in 22F eats too much dairy, this genius idea requires no increase in ticket prices. Between the stick and the carrot, this one’s the stick.
Remember when you were a little kid and adults or at least older kids would say that if you peed in the pool your pee would turn green or something and everyone would know? It could be like that but on planes. The flight attendant call button could be MacGyvered to activate upon the detection of sulfuric elements. Everyone would instinctively turn around to get a good hard look at the person who couldn’t just get up, for crissakes, and go to the bathroom. But shame is a lonely motivator. The offending party would then be charged a $1500 infringement fee upon deplaning, payable to the airline (administrative fees) and to the passengers of the three rows surrounding him/her.
2. No talking flights
I have nearly perfected the in-flight Heisman of chitchatting by immediately donning an eyemask, and yet, for at least forty minutes on every flight while electronics are embargoed, I am held captive while those around me drone on as if rows in airplanes were somehow magical, invisible soundproof chambers. They are not.
I would gladly pay a premium to travel in the equivalent of a flying library. Because I am egalitarian, I believe that every person, regardless of income, should have access to no-talking flights. To support this, the fee could be a sliding scale model or even a work-for-service model where those who can’t afford the extra cost could simply help to refuel the plane or hand out peanuts.
I have other business ideas, mostly addressing those people who use the bathroom and don’t wash their hands, for example, but this seems like a good place start. Baby steps.
Well here’s a funny bit of introspection: I still manage to work into many professional meetings that I was a yoga teacher for seven years. Despite the fact that I haven’t taught yoga in over a year and a half and also, yoga teachers bore me.
Today is the last day of my small stones exercise. As I typed that, I mistyped “scones” for “stones” and realized it’d been a lot harder if the exercise was to make scones for 31 days. As it stands, I only had to write. I made it 29 out of 31. Not bad, but I wish I would’ve made the whole.
Here is my farewell haiku:
Scribbles on a page
Turning into poetry
Meaningful small stones
See this card? This card is the type of thing you get in place of a ticket for going to Sleep No More, an interactive-ish play, loosely based on Macbeth, if Macbeth were steampunk meets Eyes Wide Shut with way less nudity in a garish hotel. (And thank god, because the one chest shot I saw was just awkward.)
On my way home from yoga tonight, two significant things happened. I can’t tell you exactly what makes them significant, whatever.
First, I used a homeless man as a breadcrumb. I am not proud of this. But it was a new studio and on the way there I wasn’t sure if I was heading the right direction and I noticed him looking dead lying over a grate around 5th and University Place and I remember thinking Ugh, he looks dead.
I am not really callous. I fake like I am (shhh) when I am in New York City, and only as an act of basic survival: I heard that weak people are sentenced to Midtown in perpetuity.
Unfortunately/fortunately, dead looking homeless men turn out to be useful landmarks on account of no one wanting to touch them. On my way home from class he hadn’t moved, and that is how I knew I was headed back in the same direction I came. Oh joy!
Second, a couple of blocks later I spotted THIS little gem in the trash. If I were not afraid of rat diseases and looking weird and also if I weren’t trying to be more of a minimalist, I would have taken it home with me. I know, totally frivolous, but I pictured having a cocktail party and sitting him at the dinner table just to the left of the chips and queso.
This is my savings plan right now. Not really (’cause I don’t do pennies), but that’s how it feels. The extravagance of Brazil and Christmas and shopping-to-cure-depression finally caught up with me so now I’m being the responsible person I’m supposed to be. And that’s pretty boring.