Friday, February 29, 2008

February 29, 2008

To some, leap year is a nuisance. It messes up pay or work schedules. To others, it’s a good day. Sometimes a birthday – which can be annoying in elementary school when you turn eight and everyone says “Happy Second Birthday!” I remember one such unfortunate soul. (Happy Birthday, Ross…and Ja Rule!).
For me however, leap year is a blessing. I fear the passage of time- I hate how fast the years fly by…so adding an extra day to February is a gift. I thought daylight savings “fall back” was good but, 24 more hours until March? 24 extra hours until my next birthday? I couldn’t be happier.

If only I were Chinese- they have leap MONTHS!!! Imagine adding an entire month to your year- what a scheduling disaster that would be- especially because the leap month is given the same exact name as the previous month; “Oh wait, you wanted that status report on the Wednesday March 7 last month, NOT Wednesday March 7 THIS month?” or “I’m not late for curfew mom, I am actually about 29 days early!”Do people born in a Chinese leap month get two birthdays? That would be marvelous.

There is also a Hebrew leap month. I love that- the chosen people always pulling through. There are 29 or 30 days in each month in a Jewish leap year, which has around 384 days. 384 DAYS IN A YEAR! The extra month, Adar I, is added after the month of Shevat and before the month of Adar. According to tradition, Adar is a lucky and happy month. Who wouldn’t want two Adars??

In all seriousness, the extra day every four years does serve a purpose. Leap years are required to keep our calendar in alignment with the earth’s revolutions around the sun. Without leap years, every year would result in a loss of .2422 days or almost six hours. After 100 years, the calendar would be over 24 days ahead of the season. This is neither desirable nor accurate and would make a difference in the seasons. Although, with global warming, I’m not so sure this matters anymore.

In England, there is a tradition that women “can” propose marriage to men on the 29th of February. This one took me a bit to figure out, thus I’ve remained moderately confused for a while now. Everyone kept referring to my relationship, winking at me and saying “well, it’s a leap year!” After smiling, nodding and pretending like I had an inkling about what they were discussing, I did some research; Legend has it that Queen Margaret of Scotland imposed fines on the men who replied no to these said proposals. Mind you, the Queen was five years old. Compensation ranged from kisses to silk gowns.

Children who are born on leap days are officially called “leaplings.” If I ever do decide to have children, I’m going to aim for a due date of February 29th so that I can have my very own little leapling! This also means that I won’t be confronted about children for another four years- which is an enormous relief.

When it comes down to it though, I’m just happy to have this one extra day.
I’ll take anything I can get.
And once again, I am in agreement with The Stones;
“Time is on my side, oh yes it is.”

Welsh Daffodils

In response to my “San Valentino” post and the fact that I abhor receiving flowers, my friend Helen brought me a gift- she bought me flowers. Thank you Helen.
They are bright yellow Welsh daffodils. Helen is Welsh.
The daffodil is actually an emblem of Wales, along with the leek. I suppose I prefer receiving a bunch of flowers to a bouquet of leeks. Although, I could have then made soup out of the leeks and posted the recipe. Instead, I’m posting this.

My day was brightened by the unexpected gift of flowers. And subsequently, they are currently brightening the apartment. Maybe flowers aren’t so bad after all.
Welsh daffodils were Helen’s grandfather’s favorite flowers- and I’m so pleased that she shared them and their significance with me. I think they may be my favorite flowers as well.
Enjoy the pictures (and don’t mind the pint glass in place of a vase!) You know how we do…
But seriously, thank you Helen.

In other news, I tried to get into the gym using my blockbuster card and then attempted to pay for coffee with my driver’s license…just one of those days. I’ve booked my flight to Miami so I’ll be in the states (and out of the cold) by the 25th! Oh and, one of my best friends got kicked out of Jenny Craig for going below her healthy weight. Am I the only one who thinks that’s hysterically funny?

I’ll be more prolific tomorrow.
Night all.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


We had an earthquake here in the U.K. last night.

When something like an earthquake hits, everyone has a story. Here is mine;
At about 1:00 in the morning, mid-peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the couch I was occupying started shaking violently and the laptop fell off my knees. I thought that my boyfriend, who was sitting on the floor next to me, was messing about. To ensure that he knew I wasn’t amused, I looked down and grimaced at him. Surprisingly, I saw him looking back up at me with the very same scowl. Then, our flatmate came running out of his room- white faced- and asked “what the hell was that?”
It was then that we concluded it must have been an earthquake.

Within minutes, phones were going, texts were buzzing and everyone in England had updated their Facebook profiles with humorous comments about their houses falling down.

One thing I noticed today was the fact that everyone felt freer to speak to others. It’s interesting how an entire nation can maintain a collective togetherness from a minor natural disaster. It was as if, for a day, we were all in this together. The employees at the tills in the grocery stores felt more inclined to speak to the shoppers. The women at the gym that normally never chat with me were talking my ears off, telling me their own earthquake stories. Since we ALL felt it, we were ALL the same- if only during our conversations. There are no cultural divides when something like this happens- no income brackets- everyone shakes in a quake no matter how good your job is, how beautiful you are or how high your status is. I like that- although I find it sad that it takes a natural disaster to demonstrate equality.
Maybe all we need is a good shake once in a while.

Below are a few articles about the quake- It was the biggest England has seen in 20 years. Luckily, no one was hurt;,,30100-1307071,00.html

Last night was the second earthquake I’ve experienced. The first one was in Florence, Italy in 2002 and I slept through it. This time, I was a bit luckier. It’s an odd feeling, knowing that the earth is shaking beneath you and there is no way to stop or control it. We are all at Mother Nature’s mercy- each and every day- but unless She presents us with these occasional small reminders, it’s easy to forget. The largest natural disaster I ever lived through was hurricane Andrew in Miami in 1992. I was too young to understand the enormity of it but I knew that my life had changed. The house I had grown up in was destroyed, school started later in the year and my parents fought with insurance companies for years following the actual event. Luckily, last night’s quake didn’t change our worlds- but it did serve as a reminder that the world can change us, if only for a day.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dirty Martinis

Under the dim candlelight of an intimate restaurant, the waiter has just swept in with a second bottle of red. The establishment is posh, yet maintains a warm atmosphere. Beneath the dark wood paneling of the walls and rows of imported liquors is an impressive mahogany bar. The room alone transports patrons to an imagined version of New York in the 40’s- Sinatra is playing in the background. There are no chairs- only plush leather booths. The tables glow from candles in Philippe Stark candelabras. Two bartenders, both deceivingly gorgeous, are mixing drinks. It’s snowing outside and bright yellow taxis passing in the street can be spotted through the floor to ceiling windows in front. The bar is busy. Conversation flows in a steady yet lively hush and there is an air of familiarity amongst guests.

The front door swings open and a rush of cold air, the only reminder of the icy winter outside, weaves its way through the room. A beautiful woman walks in. Heads turns to see the new arrival as she gracefully sidles up to the bar and sets her coat on one of the smooth leather barstools. She strips off her gloves, places her manicured hands firmly on the bar, winks at the bartender and orders an “extra dirty vodka martini.”

This woman is absolutely stunning, exuding an air of confidence and sensuality- but not in a profane way. She is both elegant and relaxed at the same time. She casually raises her martini as if to toast the barman and then slyly slips him a five dollar bill. As she sips her drink, her eyes close and the thin stem of the glass glints as it reflects one of the candles illuminating her face. She daintily lifts the tiny spear out of her vodka and with her teeth, slides one of the plump green olives into her mouth.
She then smiles to no one but herself.

I saw this woman once- or a woman like her- back in New York in 2005. I don’t remember who I was with or the name of the restaurant, but this stranger’s image has remained embedded in my mind.

On my way home from dinner that evening, I decided that I wanted to be “the type of woman who drinks extra dirty martinis”- whoever that may be.

There was one major problem; I hated olives. This was a pretty lofty goal for me considering that I would not only be eating one olive- but I would be drinking a “dirty” drink brimming with salty olive juice and bobbing vodka-soaked olives. Doesn’t sound so sexy now, does it? Either way, I was determined to like olives so for the past three years, at every opportunity, I’ve been nibbling at them; green ones, black ones, pepper stuffed olives, olives with pits, seasoned olives, olive focaccia, olive dip, you name it- I tried it. At first, this endeavor was moderately painful. Just the thought of the vinegary tang would create a tightening sensation in the back of my jaw. I actually ruined some of my favorite meals by incorporating olives. These were the few occasions where I was ready to give up- confining myself to sweeter, more primitive drinks- but I pushed through the pain barrier and as time went on, I began to like the taste of olives. Not long after that, I was looking forward to the occasional plate of olives before a meal.

Then, a few months ago, I finally decided to try my first Extra Dirty Vodka Martini. The event was somewhat like my own private graduation- seeing as though I didn’t tell any additional parties about my endeavor. When the waiter served me my drink, I took the glass in my hand and with all the anticipation and excitement I could muster, I took a sip. I let it the bitter alcohol slide down my throat and warm my stomach. I took a deep breath and then another sip:

It was delicious! Not only was I drinking an “extra dirty vodka martini,” but I was loving it!

Now, I don’t know if I will ever carry myself with the confidence of that woman I saw years ago in New York. I never really expected to. I’ll never know if a stranger has or will look at me the same way I looked at her that night, although I have my suspicions. What I do know is that upon my return to New York in a few months, I’m going to find that restaurant again. I’m going to walk in with all the self-assurance in the world- I’m going to order a dirty martini at that same mahogany bar- and I’m going to toast the fact that although I may never be exactly like the woman I first saw there, I am a better, more complete person now then who I was that evening in 2005. I’d like to believe that if I could be transported back to that moment as I presently am, I wouldn’t be looking at this woman with envy. Rather, I would be making the most of THAT night itself- basking in the present- exuding my own brand of confidence and sensuality regardless of who sat at the bar.

Looking back on all that has taken place from that night until now, I appreciate the immense opportunities I was given to grow. I feel as though I’ve lived so many lives since then and in turn, encountered many different versions of myself. I’ve made a lot of mistakes- all of which I hope to have learned from. I have had ups and downs and I have laughed and cried more times than I can count. I’ve been around the globe and back (a few times) and I’ve felt almost every human emotion there is to feel. I’ve hurt and been hurt. I’ve loved and been loved. I’ve betrayed and been betrayed- I’ve even betrayed myself. I’ve been a good friend and a bad friend. I’ve surprised myself by how smart I can be at times and then I’ve been surprised by my own stupidity. I know that I have so much more to learn and plenty of growing left to do, but I look back at the girl I was three years ago and I’m pleased with who she has turned out to be, dirty martini in hand and all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How I Cook

Today’s recipe: Truffle and Lemon Brussels Sprouts

But first, a preamble;

How I cook is comparable to how I live:
With reckless abandon-
No exact recipes, few measurements, no timers, no limits. (This is all quite possibly why I couldn’t bake a cake for my life. And on the other hand- why I enjoy living oh-so much.)

As you will soon find out, there is always plenty of room for improvisation in my recipes. If you are the type of cook who panics at a lack of exact instructions, I beg you- read no further or you may risk an anxiety attack. With that said, I want to make it abundantly clear that I love to eat and I love good food. Therefore, everything and anything that I make or recommend is (in my humble opinion) deliciously mouth-watering and simply delightful. I care more about taste than presentation- so please don’t expect restaurant style garnishes or brightly colored sauces drizzled around the plate. On the other hand, feel free to add whatever you want on your own time...

-1.5-2.5 lbs shredded (thinly sliced) brussels sprouts
-About one tablespoon of white or black truffle oil
-One fresh lemon
-Salt and Pepper
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the brussels sprouts, season with salt and pepper and heat and stir until very tender. Add more oil if needed. Remove from heat, squeeze half the lemon and pour the truffle oil onto the sprouts. Stir, transfer to a bowl, serve and enjoy!!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Growing Up

My 27th birthday appeared without warning a few weeks ago and with it came the anxiety and panic of aging. I am now officially in my late-20’s, WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN, and this seems to be the year that everyone I know has decided to get married. Consequently, virtually each day carries with it a constant reminder of the passage of time- my biggest fear.

While my contemporaries are updating their profiles and registering for overpriced crystal stemware at Bergdorf’s, I’m sitting here unable to think of anything BUT the artifacts from my childhood that I will never have again. Everything I touch now, as an adult, reminds me of what I had then- and probably didn’t appreciate half as much as I should have.

I actually remembered to take my Calcium vitamin this morning and as the monstrous chalky thing lodged itself in the back of my throat; I had a fleeting image of Flintstone’s Chewables- and I remembered how much I loved the red ones. As the pill slid lower down what I hoped was my esophagus, I walked to the kitchen in order to wash it down with some juice. Regrettably, the fridge was devoid of any liquid matter whatsoever and what flashed in my mind? None other than my parents’ colossal sub-zero that never failed to be full enough to feed a small army when I was younger.

As I sit here mourning the lost articles of my youth, I’m beginning to wonder why we feel it necessary to give up some of life’s most straightforward pleasures. Aging shouldn’t be synonymous with sacrifice. I never came across a mandate banning pigtails past the third grade. And honestly, would scented erasers really hinder our work rates if we confined them to post-its and grocery lists?

I miss nap time. I miss room mothers and their birthday cupcakes; we should eat cupcakes on every birthday- be it seven or forty-seven. I miss spelling bees, I miss Caboodles and their many superfluous compartments. I miss sleepover parties, and I am strongly considering reinstating them- accompanied by pillow fights, sleeping bags, scary movies and make-your-own Sundaes. I miss the Dade County Youth Fair- although I don’t miss being grounded from going to the Dade County Youth Fair. I miss dance recitals and trapper keepers and playing doctor. I miss sleepaway camp. I miss back-to-school shopping sprees and handwritten letters from faraway friends. I miss eating without counting the calories.
I miss my childhood best friend, Ashleay. I think she got married to a man my father’s age a few years ago. I miss club houses and climbing trees and riding my bike just for the sheer pleasure of going somewhere other than my driveway. I miss LEGOs. I miss knowing that my mom was always close at hand- even when I was convinced I hated her. I miss not knowing what a bank statement or a doctor’s bill looked like. I miss taping songs in my boom box straight from the radio. I miss being able to hang colored Christmas lights in my room year-round without anyone questioning me. I miss the feeling of rebellion- when we get older, there is no one left to rebel against. I think the thing I miss the most though, is one of the few things I can never get back; I miss the innocence of never knowing what a broken heart feels like.

Then again, there are incidents that I would never want to relive and items that I would never want to even glimpse again. These are the things reminding me that, “maybe this getting old thing isn’t so bad after all.”

I would never want to endure another P.E. class. I don’t miss the lice outbreaks and the resulting, incredibly embarrassing “head checks.” I don’t miss piano lessons and I don’t miss braces. I don’t miss visits to the pediatricians, regardless of how many extra stickers they gave me as I left. I don’t miss protractors or heavy JanSport backpacks. I don’t miss curfews or the consequences of breaking them. I don’t miss cafeteria food or the Periodic Table or standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance during the morning announcements. I don’t miss detention and I don’t miss carpool or the kids that never let me sit in the front seat.

I believe growing up has its advantages and disadvantages. When I was young, I was lucky enough to have the world laid out in front of me for the taking- I had the opportunity to travel any path and become whoever I wanted to be. I miss that. What I don’t miss is the ignorance of childhood- being indifferent to my freedom and therefore, not taking advantage of it. If only we could go back “knowing what we know now.” I would definitely eat more Flintstone’s vitamins.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Below is one of my favorite quotes. It’s a simple passage with a straightforward meaning but more importantly, it captures a feeling- and that’s what literature should do. I revisit it when I have trouble seeing past my temporary woes. It reminds me to take a step back and look at all that I’ve lived and the remarkable memories I’ve made, despite any current suffering or grief. And with that comes an indication of everything that is to come.

I hope you love this quote half as much as I do:

“Even if we are occupied with important things and even if we attain honor or fall into misfortune, still let us remember how good it once was here, when we were all together, united by a good and kind feeling which made us perhaps better than we are.”

-Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (Братья Карамазовы)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Vegetarianism- Now, here’s an issue I have a lot to say about…

Wikipedia defines Vegetarianism as: The practice of a diet that excludes all animal flesh, including poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea, and slaughter by-products. The reasons for choosing vegetarianism may be related to morality, religion, culture, ethics, aesthetics, environment, society, economy, politics, taste, or health.

I am a vegetarian and I can honestly say that it is for none of the aforementioned reasons. Read on for more information.

I have found that the idea of vegetarianism carries with it a significant amount of negative connotations. I can just picture it now; if you will, imagine someone describing an acquaintance as “a vegetarian”- the portrayal is most definitely accompanied by a curled upper lip. Rarely have I been at a dinner party where at least one person at the table does not refer to vegetarians as “tree huggers,” “health freaks” or even “hippies.” None of these names particularly offend me but I can attest to the fact that they are far from true in my case. Enthusiastic meat-eaters/carnivores lose a degree of esteem for vegetarians believing that they gain no enjoyment from their food- or even go so far as to assume that they don’t appreciate the wonderful sense of taste we humans have the capacity to appreciate. I am more than aware that in some of the best restaurants in the world, I am a persona non grata. I have been told that I don’t live life to the fullest because I don’t eat meat. Again, I beg to differ.

My vegetarianism;

In short, I don’t eat anything with eyes or parents. And no, there are no animals with only ONE parent- fertilization doesn’t just happen on its own. And yes, I eat potatoes- don’t ask me stupid questions.

The unabridged version of the story is as follows; I was a little over three years old and my grandparents took me to a farm. One thing I remember particularly well is standing on one side of a chain link fence while a baby lamb eyed me from the other side with his little wet nose poking through. I am told that I proceeded to kiss him until I was scolded, while my face was scrubbed clean with none other than someone else's saliva. Later that evening, back at home, my mom served lamb chops for dinner. Being the clever little lass that I was, I immediately put two and two together and realized that the “lamb” chops had the same name as the “lambs” on the farm. Someone (most likely my mother) cleverly described to me the inner-workings of the food-chain and how humans are meant to eat meat. At hearing this news, I ran to my room in tears and refused to eat the rest of my dinner. For the next week or so, my parents served me everything from fish sticks and chicken filets to veal burgers. Each night I would wait for an opportunity to put the offending meat under my shirt in order to bring it to my room and hide it under the large cushion of a wicker chair. This ploy worked until my housekeeper discovered the source of the smell that had been wafting into the hallway and “outed” me to my family. The moldy meat incident resulted in a round of doctors’ visits including psychiatrists, therapists, pediatricians, and a few nutritionists. What can I say? My parents thought it abnormal for a three year old to give up meat on her own accord. Furthermore, they were worried that I wouldn’t develop correctly due to malnutrition. I was fine. Still am. Ultimately, my choice to deny myself anything that clucked, mooed or baah’d was accepted by my loved ones (save for the time my grandma served me a veal parmesan sub telling me it was eggplant.) I did continue to eat poultry for a few more months until I bit into a Chicken Tender from Burger King and hit an enormous indigo vain. That was the end of that and it officially solidified my status as a life-long vegetarian.

My family has always been considerate of me (other than when they served veal at my bat-mitzvah), but they never went out of their ways to cater to my culinary needs. This, I appreciate. It’s the people who constantly scan the menus and then feel the need to recite what I can and cannot eat that annoy me…or the men I have dated who make ME choose the restaurants because I am the “difficult eater.” To be fair, I love steakhouses- no one does creamed spinach or mashed potatoes better than a decent steakhouse. And I am the LAST person to complain about a choice of restaurant. After all, vegetarianism was my decision and I wouldn’t think of denying anyone else gastronomic pleasures. I have NEVER been to a restaurant where there is absolutely nothing for me to eat- bread and butter will always hold me over if need be.

Vegetarianism is just a part of my daily life. Nothing more- nothing less. It’s not my identity- it’s not a factor of “who I am” and I would NEVER EVER name it as one of my defining characteristics as some annoying vegetarians do. All it is, is the result of an incident 24 years ago. Do I miss meat? No, I don’t remember what it tastes like. Do I ever want meat? Yes! The smell of bacon cooking is deathly.

My friends tell me that I am the most carnivorous vegetarian they have ever met. Put a gorgeous leafy salad in front of me and a plate of delicately grilled vegetables and I will squirm like a little kid. If I’m REALLY hungry, I might even pout. Sometimes, and my friends can attest to this, I get so pissed off that I send my rabbit-food back and order a cheese platter and a plate of truffle French fries with garlic mayonnaise dip. Now, that’s food.

If I could get past my mental blockage for just one day, I would definitely make my rounds; my morning would commence with eggs Benedict and a massive side of bacon. For a snack, I would eat beef jerky (odd, I know- but ever since a camping trip where everyone lived on jerky- I’ve fantasized about it). For lunch, I might have steak tartare with a raw egg cracked on top. If I’m in warm weather and lobster is in season, I’ll dig into a huge Maine lobster and maybe a shrimp cocktail and crab cakes. I’ll have to try an oyster or two. Oh, and fried calamari drenched in fresh lemon of course!! For a late-afternoon snack, I would stop by a local Thai restaurant and order chicken satay with peanut sauce. I may, and I hate to say it, drive through Mc. Donald’s for some chicken nuggets. If I were in Miami, there is no doubt I would end up at Joe’s with heaps of stone crabs on my table. Now comes dinner- the Pièce de résistance- I would begin with an appetizer of foie gras and a plate of prosciutto cotto with buffala mozzarella and melon. My main course would be Bistecca Alla Fiorentina from Acqua al Due in Florence (I don’t care how much it will cost to fly the fucker in) AND a bright pink flaky tuna steak with truffled potatoes on the side. My midnight snack would be a Japanese schmorgasborg of Kobi beef, popcorn shrimp, spicy tuna rolls, california rolls, assorted sashimi (salmon, eel, squid, tuna, mackerel, yellow tail, octopus and the like) and plenty of cold sake. There will be NO tofu involved, you can be sure of that.

I suppose I am a carnivorous vegetarian after all- I cannot tell you how much fun I just had making up that fantasy menu. Alas, I will never eat any of those delectable treats. As much as I want to, I just can’t. I bring a flesh filled fork to my mouth and all I see is a furry little animal hopping around enjoying its own life- breathing, eating, pro-creating. How can I take that away from them when there is so much soy in the world?? Mind you- I wear leather. No point in commenting that I am a hypocrite- I already know that. It’s just that the thought of wearing animals is far more appealing than ingesting them. Somehow I am able to separate the two when it comes to clothes and I can’t when it comes to food.

Vegetarians in General;

I hate to admit it but I tend to agree with the “health-food-freak haters” out there. Vegetarians are annoying, preaching and exasperating. I despise it when I am put into this category without being given the chance to explain myself. The majority of vegetarians I have met are generally arrogant and opinionated. These are the vegetarians that make gagging noises as a juicy burger is placed on the table or the ones who rant about animal cruelty as you order a steak sandwich from your favorite take-out. Who wants to hear that? Don’t accept an invitation to Peter Luger if you can’t maintain the common courtesy to keep your mouth shut!

I recently read “Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” by (now) celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. He wrote, “vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.” Part of me wants to hate him. Part of me wants to sit him down and explain that sometimes vegetarianism isn’t a choice, it’s inherent- and I still love food. But the biggest part of me wants to be his friend. I think I would love him. By the way- it’s a great book, I recommend it to non-vegetarians the world over.

A few afterthoughts;

-You are not a vegetarian if you eat fish. Get over yourself.

-I am so sick of the same tired “vegetarian options”; Portobello burgers, spinach and ricotta ravioli, and the “chef’s special” grilled vegetable platter. You are a artist...employ a little imagination please!

- I’m still stuck on where yogurt stands. My morning yogurt said “not suitable for vegetarians” on the container and I was gutted. Do “live cultures” count?

-For the best carnivorous veggie snack in the world, do try;
I lived on the stuff until Whole Foods stopped carrying it.

-I resided with a family in southern Spain for the summer when I was 16 and I told them I was a vegetarian in the few Spanish words I knew. I figured it was a non-issue, but when I wouldn’t eat the bowl of snails placed in front of me, they called the program and told them I had an eating disorder. Looking back, I should have invested in a better dictionary.

-Vegans are nuts

-I once had a poster in my room that claimed “Meat is Murder, Abortion isn’t.” I bought it on Venice Beach in California circa 1997. You could say that was my first brush with activism.

-Russia is the worst country in the world for vegetarians- unless you like cabbage salad with a side of vodka. And as far as animal hide is concerned- even the bums wear fur.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The English Riviera

This weekend, we drove down to Torquay on “The English Riviera” to visit some friends. I initially mocked this title thinking that “This is England! How can there be a Riviera???” But I was proved quite wrong. Merely two hours South of Gloucester (and 4-5 hours from London) is one of the three towns in Torbay on the Devon coast, Torquay. The town boasts 22 miles of coastline and an adorable town center comparable to any tropical retreat hub (minus the dreadlocked men hawking crocheted handicrafts and waddling overweight women begging to plait your hair).

Torquay has a palm lined promenade, yachts equaling the size of some of St. Tropez’s gems, and cliffs, coves, and beaches with stunning bay views. As far as weather goes, it was sunny and bright to a point where I barely believed I was in the United Kingdom anymore. Torquay truly is a Riviera- maybe I now have to redefine my definition of a coastal paradise. The only question that remains is; why doesn’t the rest of England’s population move down to Torquay?

Despite appearances- it IS the middle of winter and therefore, we unfortunately could not partake in the seaside café activity or beach and water sports. For that reason, our hosts planned an excursion to the “Living Coasts” sanctuary- a coastal zoo involved with wildlife conservation. This, to me, was yet another surprise. I have categorized the English as beer drinking, kebab-shop late-night brawling, football watching, deep-fried anything eating jokesters. So to find a wildlife conservation clearly concerned with animal/sea-life welfare was quite pleasing. I know I’m generalizing an entire population but I’m only human- and if anyone has ever lived in rural England- I doubt that they would beg to differ. (Sorry guys).

I couldn’t have been more contented with the choice of activity- just throw animals into the equation and I am quite happy to stand in the freezing cold for two hours. Amongst the birds and mammals and those species in-between, were a long-time favorite- Penguins!

Penguin facts (if you haven’t seen the recent movies);
-Penguins are monogamous and they stay with their mates for either a season or a lifetime
-Penguins are birds that can’t fly
-Most penguins can swim about 15 miles per hour
-All penguins live in the Southern Hemisphere
-They use their wings as paddles to swim
-Penguins lay eggs
-When a mother loses a chick, she sometimes tries to steal one from another mother
-Penguins probably taste like Oreos

The best story of the day was about a 30 year old penguin that recently lost her mate and now has a new boyfriend- a nine year old. (You go girl!)

In conclusion- my thoughts are; if a penguin can find love again after such a tragedy- than we humans are surely capable of mending our broken hearts as well. Maybe we just need to go a bit younger!!

And finally- After being so pleasantly surprised by “The English Riviera” and all its splendors… I am convinced that England is just full of surprises and I plan to keep on exploring.
Next destination- Hereford!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I Say Tomato, You Say Tomahto

There are a few major differences between American English and British English. There also exist some minor differences which always seem to result in either embarrassment (on my part) or laughter (generally at me, not with me.) I never would have guessed that the same language could have so many deviations. And it’s not even a question of the chicken or the egg- I am a victim of my own heritage here- I have no excuse…the Brits are indisputably correct in whichever way they choose to word or pronounce things. Being that the English language was introduced to the Americas by British Colonization in the 17th century, I don’t have a leg to stand on. Whatever I say is wrong and whatever “they” say, is right. Sucks.

I’m going to skip over the common knowledge variations like aluminum and aluminium- that’s all probably been blogged about before. The consequential differences lie in the sneakiest of places and pop up when you least expect them. My first memorable mistake happened when one of my friends told me to meet him at the “Zebra Crossing.” Needless to say, I didn’t end up meeting up with him at all that day. A Zebra Crossing, formerly unbeknownst to me, is a crosswalk. Who knew…

When you make fun of someone, or if you feel that you are being played a fool, you are either “taking the piss” or “getting the piss taken out of you.” Now, this isn’t the most pleasant thing to envision but once you get used to the maxim, it becomes quite useful. There really is no American equivalent to getting the piss taken out of you- and everyone should have it taken out of them once in a while- it’s a humbling experience.

In England, pants are not slacks- they are underwear. Panties are knickers and trousers are chinos. I learned this the hard way. At a recent football match, I got cold and I turned to a friend’s mother and said, “I’m freezing! I should have worn pants!” Needless to say, she didn’t sit by me at the next game.

This next one took me about a year until I fully grasped the concept and incorporated it into my daily vocabulary; Tea isn’t tea at all…Tea is dinner. Therefore “tea time” is actually dinner time. Where the crumpets fit in? I do not know. Now, dinner is lunch. So when British kids are in the cafeteria in school, their tater tots are doled out by “dinner ladies,” not lunch ladies. Breakfast is still breakfast, which pleases me to no end.

A fanny is female genitalia over here. So anyone reading this entry from England will be quite offended by the word usage. However, a fanny in America is an endearing term for buttocks- like tush, tushy, or bum. I learned this when, during a conversation, I asked if a mutual friend was gay and the response was, “no, he loves fanny.” Confusion ensued and I ended up explaining that homosexuals generally go for the tush so why would his love of “fanny” indicate that he was heterosexual? Eventually, all was straightened out but I definitely wasted a good ten minutes of my life clearing that one up.

In the U.K., if you are “gagging for” something, you really want it. If you gag in the states- whatever it is that is making you gag is actually making you sick. Gagging is generally the action that comes before vomiting. So when my boyfriend told me that he was “gagging” to see me- I didn’t talk to him for a day.

The list goes on and I am sure I will be amending it in the near future. In the meantime, should you decide to venture over to England…and get silly drunk- don’t threaten to “piss in your pants,” because for all you know- you could be joking around with your underwear.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

San Valentino

The most widely accepted version of the legend of St. Valentine’s Day is as follows;

St. Valentine was a priest that served during the third century in Rome under Claudius II. When the Emperor decided that single men made better soldiers than those with families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine believed that this was an injustice and defied Claudius by continuing to perform secret marriages between young lovers. When his actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that Valentine be put to death. Once deceased, Valentine became a Saint due to his martyr status.
Basically, he died for love.

It’s a nice story. I’m not sure I believe it. I’m not a Catholic anyway.

I'm sure we all concur that Valentine’s Day is a token “Hallmark Holiday”- a money making machine and an excuse for girls to demand expensive gifts from their boyfriends. On the upside, it’s an opportunity to celebrate love- and who doesn’t love love? I’ve never had a spectacular Valentine’s Day. This is actually fine with me- I believe that love should be celebrated every day.

My best Valentine’s Days have actually been my single v-days; going out with the girls, cursing love, and drinking just enough to not care about all the couples in love surrounding us.
My most memorable Valentine’s Day was in fourth grade. My mom gave my sister and me tennis bracelets with our breakfast and my housekeeper sewed some red heart-shaped patches onto my favorite pink dress. I got to school and ate so much chocolate that I puked in physical education.
I didn’t say it was a good day- it was just a memorable day.

I must also give a shout-out to Junior High School Carnation Drives. Carnations (available in a choice of red, white or pink) were sold to students in support of some club or charity. 50 Cents would get you a flower, a little card to indicate the recipient, and a guaranteed delivery on Valentine’s Day. The entire school-day revolved around the period when the carnation deliveries came. The amount of carnations you received was an attest to how cool you were. Year after year, I would hope that the popular kids would send me carnations. Moreover, I had always wanted a “secret admirer” (preferably someone not on the debate team) to make themselves known to me with the delivery of this “filler flower.” If I remember correctly, this never happened. The most carnations I received in a given year was probably around ten- and I wouldn’t be surprised if five of them were from my mom. What can I say? I was a huge geek.

I got cooler as I got older though- when it didn’t count as much, of course. Three years ago, I received a fair number of bouquets on Valentine’s Day at my office (this was during my New York dating days), and I wrote this horribly unappreciative (yet incredibly true) e-mail to my best friend;

“Another bouquet just arrived- I had to walk all the way downstairs to pick them up...I hate getting flowers. They die. And they smell when you don’t throw them out in time. And feel obliged to keep the vase because it would be wasteful to throw it away, but seriously- what the hell are you ever going to use it for? It’s not like any of us are adult enough to actually go out and purchase fresh flowers at the market. Then, you spend all the time cleaning the grime off the vase only to watch it collect dust under your desk until one day you have a leg spasm and it shatters everywhere. If you don’t sustain horrific injuries, you merely have a bunch of broken glass to clean up while hoping that no shards went into your open disk drive. And honestly- who actually smells their flowers? Yeah, they're nice but are you going to sit at your desk all day with your nose stuck between the petals? And if you do- it’s pleasant for a moment until you pull your face away only to have your chin and collar stained by orangey-yellow pollen. Fun, fun.”

I still feel the same way about flowers. I hate them. If only I had received them when it counted- in 5th period Spanish Class 14 years ago!

Valentine’s Day does provide an excuse to eat gratuitous amounts of chocolate and make sappy love mixes...which I am perfectly content to sit at home doing. So, on a positive note, here is last year’s Valentine’s Day was a good one;

1. Kissing You, Des’ree
2. All I Want is You, U2
3. Romeo and Juliet, Dire Straits
4. I will Follow you Into the Dark, Death Cab for Cutie
5. Kingdom Come, Coldplay
6. Dream About Me, Moby
7. Lay Lady Lay, Bob Dylan
8. She’s Got A Way, Billy Joel
9. More Than Words, Extreme
10. Wonderful Tonight, Eric Clapton
11. This Year’s Love, David Gray
12. Better Together, Jack Johnson
13. Original Sin, Elton John
14. The Water Is Wide, Jewel, Sarah McLachlan and Indigo Girls
15. Heaven Out of Hell, Elisa
16. Amazing, Aerosmith

I hope everyone has a wonderful Valentine’s Day, whether or not you choose to celebrate it. As for me, I’m eating chocolate and letting my boyfriend off the hook.

But if I don’t get a card- he’ll be in trouble.


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Day In The Life

Since I began my blog, I’ve had a few requests to write about my daily life. This makes sense being that a blog is somewhat of an online journal.
I guess I’m supposed to open a door to my life and give you a glimpse of what it’s like to be in my shoes. I like my shoes. I hope you will too. Admittedly, the soles are pretty worn out but I wouldn’t have it any other way. At the moment though, keeping with the shoe theme- I would say that I’m wearing slippers. I’m in a calm place and it’s safe to say that my daily life is less eventful than it has been in a long time. Although, I’m not idle. I would never settle for inactivity.
I’m currently in England with my boyfriend. I have been back and forth for a while now- between England and the rest of the world. My best friend thinks that when I come here, I’m hiding. I may very well be. Hiding from what? I have yet to decide. I would say real life, but this is real life isn’t it? How do you define real life? I wake up, I eat, I breathe, I converse, I accomplish a few of the necessary evils, I endure all the human emotions one should go through on a daily basis, and then I go to sleep at night. However, when I’m here- it’s as if I put everything else on hold. Generally, as soon as I step off of the plane and into the left-sided passenger seat, I assume that I don’t have to bother with the rest of humanity until I board the return flight.

I receive e-mails from my friends, always asking, “so, how’s London?” Well, kiddos, hate to break it to ya- but I’m quite far from London. I understand the mistake though, for a Miami-raised, D.C.-educated, N.Y.-Bred cosmopolitan woman, there IS no England outside of London. I live in Gloucester- 2.5 hours from London. I’m here because my boyfriend is a professional soccer player and his team is close to the area. He has an adorable little flat in a renovated flour mill on the “Gloucester docks.” We have a spectacular Gothic cathedral nearby and some days when it’s warm enough, it’s nice to sit outside on the grass and listen to choir practice while reading a book or writing in my journal. In town, there is one nightclub and a Starbucks. (Who needs anything else??) We have a Top Shop and a gym within walking distance, which suits me just fine. I haven’t learned to drive here and I don’t really plan on it. Like most Americans (that don’t drive fancy foreign cars), I learned on an automatic and have only ever driven an automatic, unlike the rest of the stick-shifted societies of the world. The one time I attempted to navigate the opposite side of the road, I took down a fence and gave a sheep a coronary in Scotland. So I walk.
The Gloucester Cathedral
My days are blissfully simple. I take classes at the gym when I can motivate myself to dig around for my sports bra and then often meet friends in the Jacuzzi area for a tête-à-tête. The steam room is my favorite part of the gym experience- there are sparkling blue lights on the ceiling and David Gray usually plays on repeat. My only complaint is that the steam room and saunas are co-ed. I’m used to spas where I can just revel in my womanhood (naked, yes) amongst only women and the men can stink up their own steam room across the hall. I write for a few hours a day, sometimes on my laptop at home and sometimes in the coffee shop. I cook daily as well. I decide in the morning what ingredients suit me at the moment and then I Google recipes that incorporate the chosen components. I generally make new recipes in order to expand my repertoire while I have the time and by the second go, I perfect them. Rarely do I have culinary disasters but when I do, I have no need to feel ashamed about it because I’M IN GLOUCESTER- really, who am I impressing? Today I’m making a Mexican casserole, “Mo’s Mex Mélange,” (This is a title that I have kept to myself until now). It’s a recipe that I invented after deciding that fajitas are too messy and don’t involve enough cheese. It’s a favorite of my boyfriend and his friends and they have a game today so I thought it would be a nice treat for them once they return. I’ll post the recipe later.

I have some wonderful friends here as well. It took a while to cultivate this closeness and sift through the people I didn’t connect with, but after two years of being in this relationship- back and forth from the U.K, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve formed some lifelong bonds. Most friends are the girlfriends of some of the other players. My ideal occasions with them are generally Saturday nights when the boys have a televised game. We’ll meet up in the afternoon, do “girl things” and prepare the evening recipe. Then, throughout our animated conversations, wine-fueled music selections, and a general air of merriment, we’ll cook lavish dinners while we watch our boyfriends kick balls around on the television. We’ll laugh and oooh, ahhh, cheer and talk about how much we love them and how sexy they look in their kits (this could also be the alcohol talking at that point.) Depending on the results of their games, we know where our evenings will lead. After wins, we can usually expect to have them come home in good moods ready for a night out “on the town”- in the one club “in town.” When they lose, or when someone gets injured, the girls will go out on our own and dance and drink until the wee hours of the morning while our boys sulk at home eating the leftovers from our dinner. The bouncers and bartenders know me at the club- I’m famous. Last Saturday, when I walked up to the entrance, before uttering a word, the massive doorman perked up and said, “Ah! The American!”
I don’t think this is something I should be proud of- but it is what it is. That very same night, the boyfriend got a stud to his shin and ended up with stitches in the emergency room while I was taking shots at the bar. Oh well.
Alternatively, when the games are at home, we will bundle up and sit in the stands and cheer them on. These are my ideal days. I look forward to them all week.
The Docks at Night
Scrabble tournaments are becoming a preferred past-time for us. Being that it’s England...running around outside is far less appealing than playing board games in a heated flat- AND I received a scrabble board for Christmas! Therefore, we have “best-of-ten” scrabble championships where
the loser is required to buy the next round of groceries. I play so much that I see lettered tiles forming words when I close my eyes at night, but I am pleased with the knowledge that I’m gonna kick Nana’s ass at scrabble for the first time in my life when I see her in Miami this summer. That’s reason enough to book a flight home.
Being in England, in “hiding,” I also have the opportunity to read a lot. I haven’t read this much since completing a literature degree in college- and I’m truly enjoying it. I just finished “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter” by Kim Edwards which was beautifully written but wasn’t one of my favorites. I closed it feeling a bit sad and not very enlightened. I’m now reading Zadie Smith’s “On Beauty,” which is fantastic thus far. I’ll revisit this when I finish it. Maybe I’ll create a book list or something since I’m always giving friends and family recommendations anyway.

My big event today, in addition to the ordinary happenings, was going to be my first attempt at dying my hair out of a bottle. I am a natural blonde but have been getting highlights since the age of 18. And as anyone who frequents the salon knows- once you start, you can’t stop. I like getting my hair done- makes me feel good. And I don’t really pamper myself in other ways- so a day at the salon is in fact my only indulgence. I usually get highlights every 2-3 months depending on the time of year.

At any rate, I’m trying to condition myself to live more cost-effectively in preparation for the next two years when I will once again be a student with minimum cash flow. I’m moving to Spain in August to begin my MBA and will thereafter have no expendable income for quite some time. This doesn’t upset me; I see it as a challenge and am looking forward to it. Back to my point- I walked into town- it’s a beautiful day today, 11 degrees C and sunny (no I will not convert to Fahrenheit... when in Rome!) I stopped for a Starbucks latte to-go and got in a slight altercation with a local teenager when he said to me in a vulgar cockney accent “I like your fcuk me boots, wanna fcuk me?” After setting the little delinquent straight, I made my way to Boots (the English equivalent to CVS or Duane Reade) and spent about an hour in the hair-dye section going back and forth between permanent and wash out, golden blonde and platinum, deep conditioning and shade enhancing, and the list goes on... The abundance of choice could drive a woman crazy. I eventually settled on L’Oreal Feria Color 3D, Metallic Blondes with Color Booster Technology PO1. Please don’t ask me what any of this means, I just thought the girl on the front of the bottle was the prettiest. (I know, I know- I should know better than to 1. Judge a book by its cover and 2. Let advertising affect my purchases). ANYWAY- I practically skipped home with my blonde in a box, beyond excited to frost myself, when my anticipation was dashed by an e-mail from my mom stating in massive bold lettering, “ DO NOT DYE IT OUT OF A BOX- YOU WILL END UP LOOKING LIKE A CHEAP BLONDE- TRUST ME! YOU WILL NOT BE HAPPY!!! GET PROFESSIONAL HIGHLIGHTS, WHATEVER THE COST. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LISTEN TO ME- JUST DO NOT DYE IT OUT OF THE BOX!!!!”

So that was the end of that.

And there you have it- a day in my slipper-footed life. I can’t really complain.

Plane Crash Envy

In mid-January, a British Airlines jet crash-landed into Heathrow. It was a Boeing 777 flying in from China with 151 passengers and crew on board. There were a few minor injuries and no mortalities. I bring this up now, a month later, because I am still considering my reaction to the entire event. I was actually at the gym when I saw the news brief and I looked around at everyone else’s responses. A few other gym-goers had their hands covering their mouths in shock while most people were spurred into instant conversation regarding the safety of air travel, “oh! those poor passengers,” and their own mortality.

I, on the other hand, should probably go straight to the psych ward for my reaction:

I’m just going to say it...I was jealous.
I immediately wished that I had been on that plane. No, I do not have a death wish- not at all. Had anyone died, I would be glad that I wasn’t present. (Let me add that I am also glad that there were no mortalities whether I was involved or not.) However, the fact that each passenger is now a survivor of a plane crash agitated me to a point where I actually had a fit of envy. I wished that I had been one of the 151 people on that plane flying from China. I wonder if any of the “victims” have changed due to the experience- if they currently live fuller knowing how close they came to dying. Each individual involved can now say that they endured a plane crash- that they have stared death straight in the face and lived through it. You hear these stories all the time; about people who have near-death experiences and are henceforth enlightened. They change the way they live because they FINALLY, after all this time on earth, realize that they too will die one day. So then they indulge in all the pleasures of the flesh a little more and worry about the small stuff a little less. I want to be one of those people!
Granted, “survive a plane crash” isn’t on my list of things to do before I die BUT, I cannot say that I would have truly minded the incident. I would simply add that to all the things that I have gone through that make me who I am. Which, apparently, after reading through what I just wrote- is pretty messed up already. It’s also a decent conversation starter.

Here is a link to the full story, if interested;
Have a good day everyone and travel safe!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

My Favorite Things

I woke up a bit unhappy today. This always happens when I open my eyes in the morning, blink at my watch until it comes into view, and decide that I can afford to sleep for another half hour or so. At this point, I descend into a light snooze and engage in what I term “feasible dreams”- as opposed to implausible flying dreams or far-fetched metamorphosis dreams. Feasible dreams are the kind of dream that when you wake up, it takes a moment to decipher whether “it” really happened or not.

If this feasible dream of mine is bad- I wake up in a good mood with the knowledge that my reality is better than whatever it is I just experienced. Alternatively, if the dream is good- I wake up disappointed that it didn’t really happen. I hate disappointment.

Today was one of those days.

Therefore, due to my oxy-moronically disappointing good dream, I deferred to my list of 100 things (in no particular order) that make me happy and promised myself to indulge in at least three of them today. Before I do that though, I have decided that a "favorite things" list can be pretty indicative of someone’s personality and therefore, will post it on my blog. goes...a list of my 100 Favorite Things;

1. Writing
2. Art (in all forms)
3. Seeing the world
4. Learning
5. Immodesty
6. Old Buildings
7. New Shoes
8. Bloody Marys
9. Airports
10. Memories
11. Truffle Oil
12. Juke Boxes
13. Attention
14. Adrenaline
15. Exploring
16. Dressing up
17. Boating
18. Down Comforters
19. Solitude
20. Hookahs
21. Large Bodies of Water
22. Dawn
23. Extra Dirty Vodka Martinis
24. Green
25. Sand Dunes in the Sahara
26. Love
27. Skinny Mirrors
28. Camping (and pitching tents, which I am surprisingly good at)
29. Surprises
30. Success
31. Profundity
32. Tofurky Jerky
33. My I-Pod
34. Italy
35. Cooking
36. Prosecco
37. Rainbow Sprinkles (jimmies, to Dane)
38. Sunsets
39. Singing (although not well)
40. Leather Bound Journals
41. Sequins and Glitter
42. Kissing
43. Museums
44. Receiving e-mails from my sister
45. Wisdom
46. Margharita Pizza (all types other than Boboli)
47. Backgammon
48. Animals (big, small, wild, domesticated, dismembered, fuzzy, hairless, etc...)
49. Steam Rooms
50. Train Rides
51. Music
52. Broughie
53. Bookstores
54. Scuba Diving
55. Green Gummi Bears
56. Laughing
57. New York
58. Beauty
59. February 1st
60. Girls with Boy Names
61. Snowflakes
62. Spontaneity
63. Dreaming
64. Candor
65. Scotch
66. Adventures
67. British Footballers (soccer players)
68. When someone is waiting for me in the terminal at an airport
69. Stinky Cheese
70. Summer Camp
71. Extreme Sports
72. My Laotong
73. The Word “Doodie”
74. Diamonds
75. Christmas Lights
76. Irish Accents
77. Coffee and Cigarettes
78. Infinity
79. Pedicures
80. Toasted Everything Bagels With Chive Cream Cheese and Tomato
81. Chandeliers
82. My Mom
83. Grocery Shopping
84. Hotel Turn-Down Service
85. Chocolate Anything (bars, milkshakes, cake, ice cream, brownies, etc...)
86. Gardeners Market Spinach Dip
87. Long Drives with Good Mixes
88. Red bull
89. The smell of candles once they have been blown out
90. Greek Restaurants
91. Dancing
92. Anticipation
93. Shooting Stars
94. Lip gloss
95. Finding money in my pockets that I didn’t know was there
96. FedEx Packages on my doorstep
97. Skiing
98. Compliments
99. The Beach at Night
100. Living

Friday, February 8, 2008

New Perfume

I bought a new perfume today.

I didn’t have much else to do and like the typical female that I am, I decided to go shopping. Truth is, I don’t really need anything and I’m on a minimalist kick since the New Year. Therefore, I limited myself to one item and took out £50 (this was to include a grande caramel macchiato). These days, Starbucks is a special treat- this is due to the 30% increase in prices in the U.K- damn the dollar...

After breezing through a few bookstores and the specialty health food shop (I’m into vitamins lately as well), I wound up at the perfume counter in the local department store.
An hour must have passed before I realized that I had about 20 distinct Eau De Toilettes distributed over every inch of my exposed skin and my mind had wandered to the past and back...

A new perfume is like foreshadowing a period of events- a tiny unidentifiable glimpse- not into the future, but into the future's future- like into a memory of the future, if you will.
The perfumes I have worn throughout my late-teenage, early-adult life have always attached themselves as identifiers of those periods;

Yohji Yammomoto: driving to South Beach in one of my friends BMW convertibles (their parents always loved them more than mine loved me) at 17 with a shoddy ID stating I was 21. I thought I was so old and wise- like life didn't exist beyond the velvet ropes and watered down vodka tonics.

Hanae Mori: Senior year of University. I was finally dating the guy I had lusted after since Freshman year. I was skinny again after three years of carrying around the freshman 15(x3!), and I was actually enjoying the classes I was taking. Who knew literary theory was fun? I lived in a studio apartment, I was hot, my parents paid for everything and I had no idea how many times my heart would break in the next five years.

Carolina Herrera 212: The Ponte Vecchio, my first love, a year in the most beautiful city in the world, pasta, watching the World Trade Center crumble on a tiny TV in an Italian bar and wondering if the world would ever be the same again.

Dolce & Gabbana, BY: My first year in New York. The upper east side, Sunday brunches in the West Village, Bentleys, private jets and shoes from Jeffrey’s. Ask me again, why did I leave?
I decided as an homage to the current changes in my life, I would treat myself to a new perfume- A new memory.

I bought Kenzo Amour (because I like it AND because the shape is perfect to stick in a shoe when I pack for my next destination.)

I couldn’t stop smelling the back of my wrist, even as I was paying at the counter.
Now, sitting at my laptop, trying to think of the most interesting part of my monotonous day, I am still smelling myself every few minutes. I’m trying to familiarize myself with the new perfume- I’m attempting to make it mine- to identify with it.
And with time, I will.

I already know that Kenzo Amour, in its vivid fuchsia bottle, will forever be a reminder of now- and what is to come;

I know that 20 years from now, I will get a whiff of it on someone else's wrist and I will miss today.

I’ll probably buy another bottle of it at some point in the future (if it's still on the market, of course). I’ll close my eyes, inhale, and vividly remember these days- And I’ll miss them.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Why Blog?

Why Blog?
Well, in lieu of waxing philosophical, I’m going to say it like it is.

Most importantly; why write?

I write because it is my greatest passion in life. It’s what I’ve always done and it has become somewhat a part of my identity (to those who know me well). Writing is my comfort, my therapy and on a certain level, my sanity. I’ve written in many capacities but mostly- I write for me. I have done so since I started a journal at the age of 12 and I haven’t stopped since. Writing has gotten me into trouble (i.e. leaving dirty diary entries with detailed accounts of my escapades on top of my father’s fridge, mistakenly sending documents in emails to inappropriate recipients, or feeling so strongly about the words that I strung together that I refused to butcher them for an employer) –all of which were my fault.

Nevertheless, I continue to write. I write for posterity. I write for pleasure, I write in pain, I write. I will always write.

Now; why blog?
Blogging seems to be the natural progression for “writers” in today’s web-based world. I suppose I’m even a little late in picking up on the trend, but I had my reservations (still do). At this point, I’ve decided I have nothing to lose. This is, of course, if I can contain my candor and fairly odd desire to reveal a little too much to anyone who will listen.

When I told a few friends about my plan to start a blog, most asked me what it was about. They expected answers along the lines of current business ideas, my impending MBA, the book I am working on with a wonderful French writer, life as an expat, and so on... I could not give anyone the answer they expected. I figure, if I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it “right.” There is no sense in going only half the distance. Therefore, my blog is going to be about all of the above- everything significant in my life- my thoughts, my fears, my daily occurrences; the experience of being me- where I am and who I am- no more, no less.

Mostly, I blog because I hope that someone, somewhere will gain a little from what I put out there. Take what you will- whether it be warmth, reassurance, encouragement, illumination, or even a bit of laughter- Maybe you’ll find comfort in the fact that there is another individual, similar to you, wandering the earth. Or maybe, you will find comfort in the fact that there is someone out there just a little more f*cked up than you are. Possibly, someone will come across my blog one day and find a bit of inspiration. I can only hope that something I’ve done- somewhere I’ve been- will rouse a sense of courage in another person and motivate them to dare to dream, as I have.

And for me? Well, no human endeavour is ever intrinsically good, is it? Maybe I just want someone to listen to me. I anticipate that after compiling and chronicling a few of my ramblings, I will be able to shed some light on how I got to where I am. Perhaps I will be able to watch myself grow. And just maybe- someone will reply to a post of mine and their comment will make me smile. That’s all I really ask for.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Why I chose elephants and mushrooms, and why I probably shouldn't have

First of all, I have to admit, the genius (or idiocy- what have you) of this title can not only be attributed to me. The original notion of Elephants tasting like mushrooms was a shared experience between my boyfriend and I while on Safari in Kenya last June.

Instead of taking in the splendour of our surroundings or pondering the greater questions in life, we were assigning foods to the animals we spotted. (Isn’t that what everyone does in the Masai Mara?) Trust me, two weeks of nothing but acacia trees, binoculars, and adjusting your zoom lens just long enough to miss the shot can do this to a person. The first animals to arrive during our little experiment was a group of massive, whiskery, wrinkled, and sad looking elephants.

(See above picture for offending elephants.)

Before I even had the chance to begin scrolling through my mind for something an elephant would taste like, my boyfriend turned to me, shivered, gagged and said “mushrooms. yup, definitely mushrooms.” Obviously, he’s not a fan of mushrooms. Nonetheless, I immediately agreed. If there is anything in the world that an elephant would taste like (based on appearances of course), it would be a mushroom. Admittedly, no one in our caravan agreed - or for that matter, spoke another word to either of us for the rest of the trip.

Seven months later, the entire episode was forgotten until about a week ago when I decided to begin blogging. Now, I know that the name of a blog holds a great deal of importance, much like the title of a novel or a movie- in a way, it’s a bit like naming a child. Meaning- it will be out there, in the virtual universe forever. And it’s all mine, so I have to take complete responsibility for it (just writing this is turning my stomach in knots and making me think I should have just named it “Morgan’s mind” or something boring and useless so if all fails, it will fade into obscurity).

I digress. I was throwing around ideas with my younger and highly creative sister about the name of my newborn baby (blog) and being that I decided to launch it on my 27th birthday, I was trying to come up with names incorporating the number 27. I contemplated making it a theme. I then realized I was focusing too much on the number and not the blog itself and consequently, that line of thinking was extinguished. HOWEVER, before I came to my senses, I thought of the name “vente sette parete” which means something along the lines of “27 opinions” in Italian and therefore, would begin each entry with the 27 ideas/thoughts/opinions going through my mind at that very moment. I wrote my sister a “demo-list” and one of the thoughts, somewhere around 18 or 19, was “I bet elephants taste like mushrooms.” She immediately wrote back and said, “I bet elephants taste like mushrooms. There you go.”

She may have been joking. I didn’t care. I then proposed the name to a few more people to gauge reactions and for the most part, I received inquisitive laughter. A few individuals cocked their heads and furrowed their brows, but these people probably wouldn’t appreciate the stuff I write anyway. So there you have it;

I Bet Elephants Taste Like Mushrooms.

A few pieces of random information having something to do with the title of the blog;
1. I am a vegetarian and will never ever even come close to tasting an elephant- or anything like one.
2. I sort of like mushrooms. Portabellas are great, shitakes are decent when prepared well, porcinis are gross- edible slugs. As for hallucinogenics, that’s a conversation for another time. Are truffles considered mushrooms? I know they are a fungi. Well- if they can be classified as mushrooms- then mushrooms just shot up in my book.
3. If interested, here are a few of the other potential names of the blog and why I didn’t/couldn’t use them;
-“A life uncommon” a little presumptuous, don’t you think? Maybe one day...
-“yellow roman candles” It’s from my favourite Kerouac quote- which you will eventually find somewhere on this blog. I just figured that very few people would get it and therefore it would be a random stringing together of words. Also, the archetypal significance of yellow is illness...who wants that in their title?
-“into the mystic” Someone already took it. Bitch.
- Lastly, there were a bunch of rhymes I was playing with in Italian (my favorite language) but then I thought that it would be even more obscure than “yellow roman candles,” other than to the 20 people I know in I gave it a miss.

And there you have it. I hope you like it.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Welcome to my world!

I once heard that "A life unexamined is not worth living" (Socrates) and so, after two years of wavering between whether or not I should bear my soul on the web and contemplating the multiple possible consequences, I have finally folded and let heart rule over head (as always). So here it is...
My blog.
My life.
Examine away!