Saturday, December 11, 2010

Secret Agent Man

Today I likened myself to Clark Kent, and it's funny to me that it's taken me so long to think that. Not that my alter ego is Superman - far from it. Don't worry, I have no delusions of grandeur. But I do sometimes feel like I'm leading a double life. Mild mannered (or loud and sarcastic) engineering student by day, theater grad/rock star by night. Except that my nights are more often spent doing homework and going to bed early. Maybe baking cookies.

And yet, no matter how boring my life may sometimes seem to me, whenever someone else finds out what I've been doing for the last ten years it suddenly sounds like the most exciting life a girl from Jersey could ask for. And I guess some of it *has* been exciting. Like that time I worked for a real rockstar (he had a hit song on the radio!), or the time I acted on a tour for eight months, or the time I played in a bar upstairs from a strip club and some of the guys who meant to go downstairs got confused and came upstairs and decided the band and I were better than the strip show so they stayed. Hard to say which was better, that time or the time we got stuck in traffic, took 9 hours to get from Boston to NYC and missed our set time, but my friend who was working at MTV at the time flashed her work ID and demanded that I play. That one was pretty good, too.

I guess I do have some good stories from it all. And the fun of seeing each new friend find out that *secretly* I've done all this other stuff. And that I'm not 22.

My engineering friends found this out today. They said I should write a blog about them - so here it is, guys! (Except they're not guys, they're girls, because girls can be engineers too, dammit.) But now I need to stop blogging and get back to finishing that paper we have due Monday. Good luck with your studying, ladies.

Monday, November 8, 2010

An Open Letter (7)

Dear NY/NJ Metropolitan Area,

I love you, you know I do. I grew up here - I've spent the majority of my life here. I love the way the leaves change color in the fall, I love the chaos and crowds of The City (and that anyone from here know that The City is the *only* city). I love that I can find gluten free vegan pizza AND gluten free vegan cupckaes within a few blocks of each other, and that the best *normal* pizza I've ever had is just a mile from my parents' suburban house (in their little Italian town).

But we need to talk about this weather. Today I left the house wearing long johns under my jeans and a wool sweater and a down vest between my shirt and my knee-length, heavy down coat. Need I mention the hat and mittens? And yet I was cold. The wind, the maybe-sort-of-freezing rain, the complete lack of sun - they stole all my warmth, and a little piece of my soul.

And so, NY/NJ, I'm giving you fair warning: I'm afraid I won't be able to continue this way. Everyone says the globe is warming, and maybe you can take advantage of that and turn "winter" into "two weeks of fluffy, snowglobe snow in January flanked on both sides by months of warm sunshine with temperatures no lower than 50*." Wouldn't you like that just as much as I would? Imagine all the happy children who could play outdoors in November and February without worrying about losing toes!

If you can't manage that, though - that one minor concession - I just might have to leave. Because I value both my warmth and my soul and am not prepared to surrender them to your weather.

I'll miss you.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Metal Head

One of the reasons I'm currently writing a musical is because my friends have always teased me that my songwriting seems well suited for the stage. "Andrew Lloyd Webber has left the building" may or may not have been uttered during the recording of my last album. That's the kind of music I write.

So am I the only one who finds it ironic that, now that I am *actually* writing a stage musical, I am for the first time writing - for that same stage musical - a heavy metal song?

I have to go now - I'm listening to's stream and I can't string words together while this is happening in my ears.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

These People will be Building Skyscrapers

...and then the instructor said "you guys have heard of oxygen, right?"

To a room full of college-senior civil engineering students.

"You remember electrons? Atoms have electrons?"

And then I cried.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

L.A. Pictures

.......aaaaand then life happened. But if you've ever had vertigo then you'll believe I had a good excuse for not getting these up before now. Anyway, here they are, the snaps from L.A. Nothing terribly thrilling, but proof that I was really there:

- The gluten free, dairy free bakery!

- The Hollywood sign as seen from my friend's neighborhood. (It's in there, I swear - on the hillside.)

- At a stoplight on Rodeo Drive (I couldn't resist).

- Much to my mother's chagrin, this was the only photographic evidence I produced that I myself was actually in L.A. Sorry, Mom.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

La la land, part two

Well, I thought I was beginning to recover but then I must've caught the cold my mother is just getting over. So much for my plan of writing the trip up once I felt better. But here it is - the riveting conclusion of my 48-hours-in-Los-Angeles saga!

Saturday morning found me a mighty unhappy camper, partly from time zone-induced confusion but mostly from being some unidentified variety of ill and the lack of sleep resulting therefrom. There, alas, went my glorious plan of stopping on the way to the reading to get a *gluten free dairy free* breakfast burrito. (Yes, Virginia, there is a GFDF breakfast burrito, but apparently only in L.A., and apparently not for me. *sigh*) Instead I stopped at a Trader Joe's that I happened to drive past on Santa Monica Boulevard and that turned out to be perhaps the only TJ's in existence with neither gluten free pretzels nor gluten free bread. Alas again! Rice cakes for me.

I managed to find my way to Beverly Hills High School - oh yes, 90210 - and bumbled my way to the auditorium. People began to convene, chairs and music stands were arranged, a group of 60th-reunion BHHS alums stopped by to say hello... we were definitely underway.

Here's the important bit: Everyone was super nice, everyone worked really hard, and all in all the day was great. It was so exciting to hear the music played by fantastic musicians and sung by a bunch of talented singers! I managed to not cry the first time the chorus came out with "It's fooouuur A.M. agaaaaiiiinnnn" in harmony, but it was close. I've always been that way when I first hear something I wrote realized by people aside from myself. It's like "ohmygod, that sounds so good!" and "wait, I had something to do with making that happen?" and "YES! THAT'S IT!" all wrapped up together with a load of je ne sais quois. In rehearsals, in the studio... I will never cease to love that moment.

As if that wasn't awesome enough, everyone said really nice things about the songs. I write songs that I want to hear, but my hope and my goal is that other people will want to hear them too. And if my songs excite them or move them or make them feel anything at all - JACKPOT! The feedback from both the singers and our small audience made me feel great about the songs I've written. Of course I've got my work cut out for me going forward. There will be lots of rewriting and new writing to do. I'm excited to do it. ...once I get over this cold.

The rest of the trip involved Vietnamese food at a restaurant called - wait for it - 9021Pho, another quiet evening at my friend's apartment, and a lot of flying eastward. I was in L.A. for almost exactly 48 hours - just enough time to feel the heat, see the palm trees, take hardly any photos, not sightsee at all, and read through one (1) brand new musical. I wonder when I'll get back there. I wonder what I'll do when I do. I don't think I've really formed an opinion of L.A. yet, though I can see why people feel so strongly about it in either direction.

Now, I was going to post photos here but apparently my camera doesn't want to play nice with Ubuntu, so it'll be another day or two while I get that figured out. Sorry. Since my father is a master of all things computer, it shouldn't take too long to sort it out.

Monday, September 27, 2010

La la land, part one

(written Friday, September 24)

And here I am in L.A. The flights were mercifully uneventful, except for the fact that I almost froze to death from Newark to Charlotte. I remedied this by putting my pajama pants on under my jeans for the remainder of the trip, and I succeeded in arriving in California sans hypothermia.

The first thing I did upon leaving the airport - after the ridiculously long rental car process - was to visit a gluten free AND dairy free bakery. I actually considered buying a whole pile of stuff and fed-exing it back to New Jersey, but that seemed excessive. So I contented myself with buying some bialys (to heat and eat here, once I'm in a place with heating capabilities) and a bread mix (to make at home). My friend who lives here should hope that I don't like either one, because she is in danger of being asked to become my supplier. (The shop ships but only in the Southern California region. DAMMIT!)

After acquiring my goodies I discovered that I had left my camera in the shop, having taken it out of my bag to snap a photo (coming in the next post). Mild panic ensued, but since this was all of about three minutes after I'd left the place I pulled a U-turn and found the camera sitting exactly where I'd set it on the counter. Travel disaster averted.

The rest thus far has been a LOT of traffic (really annoying, but not actually stressful to drive in because no one is aggressive or in a hurry like they are on the East Coast), too-hot sunshine, and some tasty iced coffee while I kill some time and try to recover from trans-continental travel. And heat. Didn't L.A. get the memo about that equinox thing?

Tonight will be fun, and then tomorrow will be mostly business... sandwiched between fun. Well, sandwiched between a GF-DF breakfast burrito (hell yeah!) on one side and fun on the other.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

September 22nd

In the midst of the chaos that is life, I am pausing today to celebrate the autumnal equinox. In the coming days the world will fill with gorgeous color and indescribable light. Yes, I get a little cheesy when it comes to my favorite season, but how could I not? Fall is crunchy leaves, slimy pumpkin insides, snuggly sweaters against crisp air, hot tea, everything made with cinnamon, and steaming soup. It's early twilights and chilly nights that make it easy to believe in witches. And it's the coming of my two favorite holidays, all about baking and eating and spending time with family.

The one thing I don't necessarily enjoy about fall is people's propensity to wear orange - dull, ugly, Halloween orange. Now I do happen to think that orange is a beautiful color...when found on leaves, and squash (and the top of my head if I may say so, but that part I can't help). But most people really should not wear orange, and definitely not with black. Unless, of course, said person is specifically trying to look like a jack-o-lantern (in which case rotundity helps).

Oh, there's also the fact that fall is followed by winter. I hate January, and I hate February more. I think the guys who made the modern Western calendar HAD to make February only 28 days because otherwise no one would survive it.

If only autumn could stretch straight through until spring. A light snowfall might be okay, but the kind you get in mid-December that makes you excited to remember childhood sledding, not the kind that fills up the whole world with dirty slush and leaves you with cold wet feet all day.

But we get three whole months before winter arrives. Until then, we get to revel in the fall. I'm going to go home and get out all my sweaters and just be happy.

Monday, September 6, 2010

An Open Letter (6)

Dear lady in front of me at the theater,

I can see that you're of another generation. For that I will forgive you your ugly shirt with the weird embroidered cutouts. But have you, as the years have passed, lost your sense of smell?

I appreciate that public perfume-wearing doesn't (yet?) fall into the same category as public smoking. I get that scents have not (yet?) been shown to cause cancer, even second-hand. However, for some of us, sitting behind someone like you for two hours is beyond unpleasant - it is actually, physically painful. Did you forget that you'd be around other people besides just your husband on that evening? Or that you and those other people would be seated in very close quarters without the option of moving around for approximately 120 minutes?

And in the end, even if you were aware of all those things and still decided to flaunt your perfume in all our noses, couldn't you at least have spent more than five dollars on the bottle?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Whole-ly Over It.

I used to love shopping at Whole Foods - it was like a magical land of organic foods, products I had never seen in an ordinary grocery store, things I'd never even heard of! When the first one opened within driving distance of where I lived at the time, a friend and I went just to wander around and were so enthralled that we didn't even heard the announcements that the store was closing. An employee had to come up to us and tell us to leave.

Then I started not eating certain ingredients that are basically essential to every packaged food in your typical grocery store (i.e. gluten), and I got excited about Whole Foods all over again: there were multiple gluten free products, and they were marked as such on the shelves! I didn't have to spend hours reading labels to weed out things that would make me feel terrible - I could just go to the gluten-free section! Amazing!

But I just got back from Whole Foods, and instead of "wow" it was all about "I know it was weird that 'snack' bars were here and some of the 'energy' bars were over there and some were somewhere else but it's far more confusing now that they've all been moved to be near the cosmetics," and "since there's a shelf full of the white bread variety and zero of the whole grain variety, as there has been the last few times I've been here, why haven't they changed their ordering yet?" "There's a sale tag by that gluten free item! ...which is in the wrong place, and it's something else that's on sale." And on and on.

I guess I should just add to my fantasy list:
"Someday I'll find a food store that carries real food - including some gluten free convenience items - at reasonable prices, organized in a way that makes sense to anyone other than the one guy who set it up."

Thursday, September 2, 2010


When you have a shitty day, with people cutting you off and spewing unrelated information at you instead of listening to and answering your question, and everything taking ten times as long as it needs to, and air conditioning so cold you leave the building with a sore throat, and through it all it's nearly a hundred degrees outside, and on the drive home behind the asshole who insists on going 10 mph below the speed limit you decide that even if you can't have a slice of pizza or a submarine sandwich or really anything that you'd like to have for dinner when you eventually get home, as long as you can have a little chocolate cake you'll be okay, and then you get home and mix up your Betty Crocker GF chocolate cake mix and wait for it to bake and wait longer for it to cool and it has exactly zero flavor - that's disappointment.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I love Mozilla's tabs. I love the ability to group things, to see my recent history laid out to the left and my immediate future to the right, the ability to drop and drag and create a categorical progression instead of a timeline. I also love being able to open a new window: a clean slate, a new group, a total tangent that doesn't have to destory what it leaves behind because I can always minimize the new window and be back at home.

I feel, somehow, that this must relate to my childhood Christmas wishes for desk sets complete with scissors, stapler, and paperclips with designated places for said items to live in the color-coordinated carousel...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Fantasies.

1. That someday I will have a computer that actually does the things I want it to do. This does not include unreasonable expectations, like dusting my house. This does include things like turning on and remaining on when I attempt to run a program.

2. That someday I'll sleep more than four hours without waking up.

3. That someday all of the people I work with will be competent and considerate and able to communicate with other humans.

4. That someday I'll live in an apartment with free laundry in the building AND a functioning dishwasher in the kitchen.

5. That someday I won't have to check my bank account balance before deciding whether or not to go out for dinner.

6. That someday I'll regain the ability to stream Netflix. *sigh*

Monday, August 16, 2010

Laundry Day

Everyone's done it - put off laundry until you have literally one pair of clean underwear left. Lucky for me, I only have to go as far as the basement to do said laundry. Unlucky for me, my final remaining pair of underwear was, today, a pair of hip-hugger boy shorts that cover approximately one third of my ass.

Do people really wear these by choice? Underwear that comes halfway up their ass? I keep thinking they're falling down and need to be pulled up, but no - that's just all there is. I really ought to throw them away. But then what will I wear on laundry day?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

History in the making

A momentous day in the history of our nation: someone finally recognized - legally, officially - that someone's right to marry cannot be taken away just because that person happens to be gay. Proposition 8 has been overturned! I often feel like I was born into a terrible era, but today I'm awfully glad to be alive for this moment.

Now to see what the appeals process will look like, and how long it'll take for this fight to truly be won...

Monday, August 2, 2010


Funny thing about fake ice cream - eating too much of it will make you feel ill EVEN THOUGH it has absolutely ZERO dairy in it. Of course having a maybe-ulcer will also make you feel ill no matter what you feed it...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Pardon me while I geek out.

I totally have a girl crush on Jennifer Garner. I want to be her best friend. I want to drink lattes and talk girl talk. What am I saying? I'd be thrilled to babysit her kids.

I never thought much about Jennifer Garner, for a long time. I thought she was good in Juno, and in The Invention of Lying (which, incidentally, halfway through turns into a completely different movie than the one advertised, but is still totally worth renting). But I never really paid attention until a few weeks ago I started watching every episode of Alias, in chronological order, of course.

I generally believe that the best actors are the ones who bring something of themselves into the characters they play - so they're not putting on masks, but rather finding the parts of themselves that resonate with the roles at hand. Which is to say that after watching over 100 episodes of Alias, I feel good about saying that Jennifer Garner has got to be a total sweetheart. Yes, I fully understand that I don't actually know her even the teeniest bit, having never even been in a room with her much less met her (nothing creepy or delusional going on here, I swear). But just watch all five seasons - how can she not be awesome?

Also, as evidenced by the blooper reel for season five, she has the most awesomely bad laugh ever. I'm just sayin.

Friday, July 9, 2010

To sleep, perchance to not dream at all.

I don't remember the last time that I slept through the night without waking up. I also don't remember the last time I slept without dreaming. I am the queen of dreams: vivid, often violent, frequently lucid. I run for my life, I drive cars over cliffs, I battle boogeymen of all varieties. I wake up exhausted.

Until now. The last few nights I have been dreaming less and less, forgetting my dreams upon waking, sleeping for longer stretches at a time. And I cannot begin to tell you how absolutely glorious it is. My ultimate fantasy is to sleep for eight hours uninterrupted and to dream not at all. Someday.... someday...

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The question of the month:

Will I have the patience and persistence to write an entire screenplay? I'd like to say yes. I'm pretty sure I've got it in me somewhere, it's just a matter of finding it just at the moment.

Then, of course, there's the other question: Will it be any good? That remains to be seen, but perhaps I'll post an excerpt on here and all you millions of readers can tell me what you think, no?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Productivity... and NOODLES!

I won't lie - in many ways I love that right now my life includes lots of sleeping and cooking and TV-watching. I'm not always psyched about -why- my life consists largely of these things these days, but that's for another day. Everyone who's ever met me knows that I'm not a morning person, and recently I've been gloriously indulging my desire to sleep in. However, tomorrow morning I have to get up at 8:30am to be at an appointment. And here's the weird part: I'm kind of excited about it.

I'm -actually- looking forward to getting up, getting out of the house, getting stuff done. Pretending for a few hours to be a productive, participating member of society. (I know, I know, school counts, blah blah blah...) But really - the idea of having some set of little goals to accomplish during the day, a list of places to go, things to do other than homework... well, is it weird that I'm excited about that? I guess it's just good to feel even the slightest bit of forward momentum.

In other news - I'm learning to cook something that calls itself Pad Kee Mao, and while I will not swear to its authenticity as a Thai dish I will swear to its deliciousness. I might become addicted. With the chewy rice noodles? and the Thai basil? Oh man. The recipe I'm currently excited about is one from the NY Times (, though I used only about 1 tablespoon of palm sugar and will probably leave it out entirely next time. Oh, and I ignore all the stuff about chicken, and cabbage, and use tofu and bok choy and yummy things like that - and I ignore most of the stuff about peppers, being a wuss when it comes to heat.

But a tip: if you take the plunge and buy fresh rice noodles, do not - I repeat DO NOT - refrigerate them. If you do you'll have a lumpy block of rice starch so completely cemented to itself that you'll throw a small tantrum and need to leave the kitchen. Okay maybe that part's just me, but still - don't do it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

New Generation Science Fiction?

Okay, so I'm about six years late to the party. That doesn't mean I'm not opinionated about it.

I've been watching Lost on Netflix streaming - I'm almost through season two now - and while I agree that it's better than most of what's on television these days, I just don't get what the big damn deal is. It's basically just a science fiction series, except that I guess most TV and film sci-fi is the green-aliens-with-antennae type, not the subtle, almost like the world we know but not, type. Doesn't anyone read Ray Bradbury anymore?

What really bugs me, though, is that the characters on this show are completely naive idiots. Almost every one of them will believe anything anyone tells them, and in spite of the constant trouble and confusion and death caused purely by people keeping secrets they insist on keeping them, on grinding their own personal axes. I'm not saying that's necessarily unrealistic, but it seriously pisses me off. Over 40-some episodes I've grown to hate almost all of the people on this island. Dudes - get over yourselves.

I do, however, enjoy the Hawaiian scenery. And the fact that all these overpaid actors spend so much of their time drenched and sandy.

But now I've gotta go - I've got the season two finale to watch.

Friday, May 21, 2010

All the fun and none of the work.

Go to and watch videos of her baby. Who is adorable. Because watching those videos is almost like getting to play with a baby (who is adorable) without having to change diapers or panic about the kid finding a way to accidentally kill herself in the three seconds that you've got your back turned. It's fantastic!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday, Monday

The beauty of being unable to get off the sofa and do anything is that you have the opportunity to do a lot of reading, watching, and listening. I'm currently taking this chance to listen to Neil Gaiman read his own story: The Graveyard Book. It's crazy. It's kind of brilliant. It's totally bizarre. It makes me remember why I love stories. Read it - or, if you can, get a recording of the author reading it to you.

In other news...

Perhaps the strangest-sounding recipe I've ever encountered, but definitely one I plan to make again. And probably again and again. Possibly with modifications, possibly without. Give up? A chickpea chocolate cake. Not chickpea flour, chickpeas. That's right. I found it here and I totally recommend it.

I had to process the chickpeas and eggs half at a time, because the only food processor I have access to is my parents' Presto Minnie Max pint-sized one. But the recipe still worked fine. In fact, it's quite delicious. I'm curious what would happen with a little flour of some kind - maybe sweet rice or tapioca. If I find out, I'll let you know.

Baking took it out of me. I'm going back to lying on the sofa and listening to Neil Gaiman. Enjoy your Monday afternoon!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Making It Work

I’m the world’s all-time best ever temp. Every temp assignment I’ve ever had has been extended – once from the initial two days to an eventual seven months, and they were disappointed when I had to leave because I moved out of state. Now here I am temping again, on an assignment that was supposed to be two weeks but has already been four and will be at least one more. I am so proud to have taken my Harvard degree and become a career office temp.

This has become the story of “making it work” (thank you, Tim Gunn). I have debt to pay off and am apparently completely undesirable to all employers other than temp agents, and so I temp. For the devil. I am answering phones in a Philip Morris office. Many of the individual people here have been extremely nice, and the job is rather laid back as far as office gigs go (though the lack of internet for the girl with nothing to do but sit at a desk and wait for a phone to ring is extremely aggravating). There are occasional harmless remarks from executives who don’t realize that the age of workplace paternalism is over, and there was that one woman who got really angry in a meeting and made a comment about how she wanted to kill people and had fortunately just gotten her gun license the day before, but all in all the daily experience isn’t too bad, just excruciatingly boring.

What I can’t get over, though, is that in exchange for a whopping twelve dollars an hour I am facilitating the sale of a product that, when used as directed, causes death. Slow, agonizing, expensive death. But I need income, and this is what was available to me, and so here I am – making it work.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Not So Bad After All

I know there aren't a lot of you reading, so it's unlikely anyone wonders where I've gone when I don't post - I still feel remiss in neglecting my little web-home. I've been temping, I've been sick, I've been writing a musical and learning to garden. I'm still nursing a nasty cold, and the headache is keeping my brain from having much of interest to say. But it does want to say this:

I have some really, really awesome friends, and that is pretty much the best thing in the whole world. Friends and family. As much as I sometimes (often) hate people categorically, there are a whole lot of people that I love individually. And so, life is good.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Spring has truly sprung.

Happy April Fool's Day!

I gave up trying to play practical jokes before I was ten, because my big brother was always a million times better than me and it just didn't seem worth the effort. Fittingly, that same brother's birthday happens to be the first of April. Happy Birthday, big bro!

Instead of failing at pranking people, I spent today enjoying the extraordinarily (for NJ in early April) gorgeous weather. I drove the long way out into farm country and walked in a few different parks and gardens, just enjoying the fresh air and the warm sunshine. The blooming flowers didn't hurt, either.

I sometimes forget during the winter just how much of an outdoor person I am, but one of my favorite things in all of life is feeling the air and the sun on my skin. (Through some kind of SPF-ified lotion, of course, since I go from ghost to lobster in approximately twelve minutes.) Days like today, with its perfect weather, make it crystal clear to me why our religions and myths so frequently include rising-from-the-dead allegories for the return of spring.

Instead of attempting to describe just how glorious today was, I'm just going to show off some of my photos. I'm pretty pleased with how they turned out - I think they do a decent job of capturing the day's beauty. Maybe someday I'll even upgrade from my point-and-shoot....

Thursday, March 25, 2010

So now I'm... a gardener?

When I was living in *that place* where I couldn't breathe the air, a friend brilliantly pointed out that perhaps some living green in my apartment would be a good idea. It certainly couldn't hurt. I, of course, have a history of killing plants. (And pet fish, but that's another story for another day and no I never did it on purpose and yes I still feel bad about it, thanks for reminding me.) In an attempt to change my track record, I acquired a couple of cute, extremely low maintenance, cacti. (Can we call them cactuses? "Cacti" just feels silly to me.)

By the time I came back to NJ I had kept my little cactuses alive for more than two whole months! They even survived the move! (They're hardy, those little buggers, and go for $10 or less at the grocery store around the holidays. Just sayin.)

So I was sitting around with nothing much to do but try to get healthy and watch my plants grow (or not grow - I don't think they've done anything other than not die so far), and I got to thinking about what life might be like once I get past the recovery phase and the preparation-for-what's-next phase, and I decided I'd like it to include more plants.

Of course I've had all kinds of fantasies about growing and canning my own tomatoes and harvesting my own strawberries grown in one of those funny terra cotta pots. But for the sake of starting off a little more pragmatically, I bought three packets of seeds, three teeny plastic pots, and three small plastic trays to catch the water that runs out the holes in the bottoms.

I planted basil, rosemary, and thyme. (Yes, like the song - sort of.)

I totally haven't killed them yet! They're growing! Soon I'll have to move them to bigger pots (since I put an entire packet of seeds into each 2" diameter pot, which is patently absurd)! I'M GROWING PLANTS AND THEY'RE NOT DYING!

I'm a little bit excited.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Is this really necessary?

I'm writing cover letters, which is among my all time least favorite things to do. Honestly, I'd rather scrub the bathtub - at least then I'd know a nice bath was coming at the end of it. Writing cover letters just feels like useless bragging, a giant pissing contest against a bunch of people I'll never meet. I'm so not into it. If I could, I'd send this to every potential employer:

To Whom It May Concern:

I'm AWESOME. You should hire me.


I mean, that's all a cover letter is, when you get down to it. Why bother dressing it up all fancy? Let's get real here, people. I need a job. You need someone remotely competent. This could be the start of something moderately unpleasant but generally beneficial for us both.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flour in jars shouldn't make me this happy.

Why didn't anyone tell me that "sweet" rice flour and "glutinous" rice flour are the same thing? Does everyone but me already know that?

Ohwell. At least my two identical flours are housed in totally awesome jars (! I really wanted to buy about a dozen of each size, but settled for one small one and three of the next size up... to start with. As soon as I decide what else to actually keep in them, I'm going back to IKEA and buying as many as I can carry. I don't know why I love them so much, exactly. I think it's something about the realness of them, the old-fashionedness, the fact that glass has never had BPA (and we did away with the lead a long time ago), the fact that they look so clean and orderly and purposeful in the kitchen...

Be careful. Soon this may turn into a blog about real estate I'm drooling over and will never be able to afford, and kitchen makeovers that fill my nightly dreams.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

An Open Letter (5)

Dear Lady at the DMV,

I'm sorry you're not any good at your job. You seem like a nice lady, and I really didn't mind your slow pace... for the first half hour. The second half hour started to drag a little, though your sunny disposition did help somewhat, as did the promise of concluding my business and not having to return to the DMV for a long, long time.

It was the third half hour that got me. 90 minutes is just too long to stand at a counter at the DMV, especially when you were THISCLOSE to finishing after an hour, and then things went wrong and you had to try again.

So I'm sorry you can't work the computer very well. I'm sorry your coworkers don't seem to like you. I'm sorry you'll likely get fired, because I got the impression that this sort of thing happens a lot and even at the DMV there are (apparently) standards of some kind (though I do find that a little hard to believe). I hope you find a job doing something else - something you can do without quite so many mistakes. But please, please, please never wait on me at the DMV ever again.

Monday, March 8, 2010


It's been a long time since I tuned in to an awards show, and much longer since I watched one all the way through, but man am I glad I did tonight. It took 82 years, but a woman has finally won an Academy Award for Best Director. YES!!!!! She has made history... and made every step for us that follow her just a little bit easier. That was so worth watching.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I need a bigger shoehorn.

The unpacking is, let's say, 85% done. And it'll probably remain between 85% and 92% done until I pack up and move out again. (Not like I'm saying anything we don't already all know.)

In a certain way, I love moving. Weird, right? But I love the fresh start. I LOVE getting to organize everything, decide where everything's going to go, make it all fit nice and neat. I also love the excuse to throw things out, because lord knows we in this family are not the best at throwing things out. (Did I ever tell you about my grandparents' collection of Natural History magazines?)

But for the last week I've felt like I just don't have a big enough shoehorn. Moving into a house that's already full - of other people's stuff - is so not fun. There's been so much "am I allowed to put this here?" and "if I squeeze this stuff together can I have that shelf space?" that I'm feeling a bit claustrophobic in spite of this being my largest abode of the last, oh, well, 30 years I guess.

It makes me really excited for having my own place, where I don't have to ask permission before unpacking my electric can opener onto the kitchen counter or hanging pictures on the walls. I worry, though, that this means I'm rapidly becoming a *grown up* - kids don't really fantasize about owning a modest home with hardwood floors and lots of kitchen counter space, do they?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


So, I was going to make that awesome-sounding cake recipe, but then I couldn't find guar gum in the store, and I was already a little bit nervous about using fake butter in a recipe that called for that much butter, and in the end I chickened out and bought a mix.

However, the mix ended up being quite tasty! I realized that it was the first layer cake I've ever made, and I think it turned out really well. Even my gluten-eating family members thought it was totally edible and maybe even kinda good. Here's the finished result, complete with "butter"cream frosting (which worked fine with fake butter, probably because a it's hard to go wrong with A POUND of powdered sugar):

Now we get to find out how well it freezes, because I probably could eat the rest of it before it got stale, if I really tried, but it would be a terrible idea for oh so many reasons...

(p.s. The cake mix was Namaste brand. Next time I'm going to try separating the eggs, beating the whites, and folding them in at the end for an airier (hopefully) texture...)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Adventure Continues

Well, folks, I'm back in New Jersey. It's been an intense couple of weeks - packing, selling, donating...and saying goodbye - but everyone seems to have survived, which is nothing short of miraculous. Of course, I kind of feel like I've been beaten very thoroughly with a baseball bat. At the same time, though, I've felt extremely well cared for through the entire process, not just by everyone involved but by everyone nearby. There's a list of people that I just can't thank enough.

Special kudos go to my awesome big brother, who took nearly a week out of his busy life to fly to Tennessee (Tennessee, people!), carry everything I own down a long flight of stairs and pack it into a fifteen foot truck (fifteen feet!), drive said truck nearly a thousand miles over the course of three days, and then carry everything I own into my parents' already full house. And not once did he and I argue.

Everyone should be so lucky as to have family like I do.

Now I'm taking a break from the unpacking to say hello to you all and pick out a chocolate cake recipe to try this evening. I think it's going to be this one: (scroll down). (I love reading Shauna's blog - I like the way she writes, I like the passion she has for food (REAL food), I want to meet her because she just seems awesome.)

Happy March! Go eat some chocolate cake.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ode to EWR

Ah, the joys of Newark Airport. It's funny to me how much I fail to hate this place (except when it's the weekend after Thanksgiving and the weather has canceled almost all flights, including mine, and there are so many people everywhere that I'm on the verge of developing claustrophobia, but that's another story).

The part of travel I really hate the most is the luggage, and on this trip I've neatly circumvented that problem by traveling from where I'm half living now back to the place I'm about to move out of but (and this is key) haven't yet (so 95% of my stuff is still there). Good trick, right? I'm not even bringing a toothbrush. Sadly this does not mean I'm traveling with a single small handbag containing nothing more than a book to read and an official ID to get me on the plane in the first place. But for me one backpack and one shoulder bag weighing less than 20 pounds (estimated) in total is a major triumph. Please remember, people, that whereas most women walk around with lipstick and cell phone in a small purse, I've been known to carry a liter of water, a snack, a 400 page novel and a first aid kit as a matter of course.

So on this trip I'm doing quite well on the luggage front. Which brings me to my next least favorite part of travel: sitting around the airport/train station/bus depot doing nothing. Waiting.

Patience? What?

(Let's note, now, that this is actually the legitimate reason for half the stuff I carry with me on a regular basis: to amuse myself when my infinitesimal patience runs out.)

This all brings us to the crux of this post: my ode to Newark Airport, written to pass the time while waiting for a flight to Nashville, via Charlotte (gods willing the weather cooperates).

Oh Newark Airport, under smoggy skies
You sprawl so hugely, as an airport should.
With seeming endless in- and outbound flights
To take a traveler anywhere she would,
You serve Northern New Jersey like a charm.
No need to drive to far-off JFK:
You're only twenty minutes in the car!
(Depending on traffic on 78.)
As planes alight over the Turnpike lanes
EWR over the airways reigns.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bread - failure and success.

Well, the holy grail is still out of reach. It was probably me, and not the recipe, but it didn't turn out as I'd hoped. The crust was pretty good, but the inside was a bit spongey. My parents actually liked it better than I did, believe it or not, but they weren't holding out hopes for a substitute for the gluey, stretchy, yeasty gloriousness of real bread. I still have the second half of the dough in the fridge, which I'll try baking as rolls and see how that goes.

Lessons learned? 1. In regular baking I could get away with all kinds of fudged measurements, but I'm going to have to be really exact (with everything) whenever xanthan gum gets involved. 2. I really should stop expecting anything to turn out quite like yeasted gluten bread, and then I'll stop being disappointed. 3. Stick to quick breads! (at least, for now.)

And on that last note... This morning I made a batch of pumpkin corn muffins ( and they're DELICIOUS. My new favorite thing. The slight crunch from the corn meal, the cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice... mmmmmmm. I suspect corn meal will in fact be one of my staples from now on, as it's such a normal ingredient and has so much character on its own. One of the next recipes I plan to try is these cornbread muffins: (with fake milk, of course). I'll let you know how those go, too. But I should probably finish eating this batch of muffins before I make the next one...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snowy Day Update

Since the snow has been falling for nearly 24 hours now, and that's always an invitation to bake, I decided to go for the holy grail: gluten free yeast bread. I got out the tapioca flour, the xanthan gum, and a recipe for which I have very high hopes ( and started mixing. The dough is resting now, so I'll have to give you an update on how it turns out.

In other news, the reason I vanished again after recently resurfacing is that I've been doing a lot of traveling and logistical business, the upshot being that I'm now back in scenic NJ and will be here for probably the next year or so.

It's a long story, and not particularly interesting, but the time has come to conclude The Nashville Experiment. The irony is that I've finally found some things in Nashville (namely a handful of people) that I'm reluctant to leave behind. But such is life, and in a couple of weeks I'll be making one brief trip back to pack up my apartment and drive the thousand miles home.

Which means... we begin the next chapter in the saga! Right now I'm hoping that this one will include things like a food processor and a large kitchen to house it. The main goal, though, is good health, and to that end I'm going to walk away from the computer, make a cup of tea, and watch the snow fall.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The view out my window this morning:

We've got about two inches on the ground, maybe a little more. The Tennessean is reporting 82 traffic 'incidents' so far today, and apparently there were 148 yesterday by some point in the afternoon. This is why I'm not leaving my apartment all weekend: 1. Tennessee does almost nothing to combat snow on the roads, and 2. no one here has the faintest idea how to drive on anything white or frozen.

I think Nashville's relationship with winter weather can be pretty well summed up by an interaction I had in December 2008, when approximately 1/4" of wet snow fell one afternoon. I was leaving my job to drive home, and one of the other tutors stopped me and said (completely seriously), "Are you sure you want to leave now? It's a blizzard out there!"

Monday, January 25, 2010


I've been getting braver with my gluten free baking experiments. I tried making the Joy of Cooking's banana bread recipe with GF flours instead of regular flour, just off the cuff as it were, and it wasn't a total failure! Just a semi-failure.

I've also been making pancakes with various GF flours to get a feel for them. Turns out that buckwheat is quite tasty and sorghum is possibly magical. I made entirely successful - delicious, even! - pancakes both with a buckwheat/millet/potato flour mix, and with straight sorghum flour. Sorghum might be my new favorite thing. (Of course some good, grade B maple syrup doesn't hurt either.)

But there's one thing I've been dreading, been avoiding like the plague, been doing research to see if I can do without. Xantham gum. (insert scary music)

Xantham gum and guar gum are the two things generally used to give GF baked goods a gluten-like texture. They are also, as I understand it, to blame for the gross, gummy texture of many GF goods. In fact, at a GF bakery in NJ the owner let me sample some bread made wtih the xanthan gum she normally uses and then a loaf made with a different brand of it: the second loaf was gummy and not so good. BECAUSE OF A DIFFERENT BRAND. This is why this stuff scares me. Guar gum, for no reason whatsoever, scares me less and is supposedly much cheaper to buy... but I haven't yet found it in a store. Xantham gum, on the other hand, sits right in the baking aisle in Whole Foods... and costs $12 for a bag that I think weighs a pound. Granted, a recipe generally uses only a teaspoon or so, but still. $12! For a little bitty bag of powder! I'm not generally in the habit of buying the kinds of things that carry that sort of cost-to-weight ratio. However, the majority of GF recipes I've been finding include the damn stuff, and the blogger/cooks I've started following (who seem quite knowledgable, based on lots and lots of experience) all include it in their recipes.


So this weekend I bit the bullet and bought some. ($12!!) Then I had to convince myself to use it.

Well, since store-bought GF baked products are hit-or-miss, I haven't bothered buying any pre-made cookies, cakes, or similar. It just didn't seem worth it. But for most of the last week I've been craving something starchy and sweet, warm from the oven. So I picked out two possible recipes to bake - both including xanthan gum. The one I really wanted to try was for GF monkey bread - a sweet, yeasted bread - but between getting home from the gym and leaving for work today I wasn't going to have enough time for the rising and baking, and I sure wasn't going to wait until next weekend when I'd have time to bake again. Instead I made a berry coffee cake kind of thing. (It's billed as a blueberry crumb cake, but I used the frozen mixed berries I had on hand, and was too lazy to make a proper crumb mixture so I just sprinkled brown sugar on top.)

It started smelling delicious about a half hour into the baking, and - miracle of miracles! - it tastes delicious, too!

I'm now at work with a piece of it in a plastic container and as it finishes cooling I keep taking little tastes, hunting for any hint of gummy, gluey grossness. None dectectable so far. This is good news, people. There may be some delicious baking in my future.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The best thing about being gluten free? All the amazing food I get to eat!

For someone who historically has staunchly claimed "I don't cook," I seem to be doing a lot of cooking lately.

Last night I made a Thai-style curry with broccoli and baked tofu over brown rice. As you may recall I don't usually do so well with the stove top. I knew the rice would be fine, because I bake it in the oven. ( - it comes out perfect every time.) I also had faith in the tofu, for the first time ever, because I've finally given up on frying it and just bake it in pieces on a cookie sheet instead. But putting it all together, and getting the curry sauce to taste good... I wasn't sure how that would go.

I oversteamed the broccoli slightly, so that wasn't a great way to start. And the sweet potato that I'd been planning to include got so soft when I cooked it in the microwave that it was hopeless. Awesome. But then some sort of minor culinary miracle occurred, and when I cooked and onion with some ginger, poured in coconut milk from a can, added some fish sauce and tamari based on a recipe I was too lazy to follow, and assembled the whole megillah in a bowl... it was delicious! Success!

After that came the recipe I knew would be problematic only in my desire to eat its entire product in one sitting: flourless chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. - about halfway down the page is the version I made, using agave nectar. And adding chocolate chips, of course. Spectacular. I will have to make rules about how often I'm allowed to bake these.

That was where I stopped last night, but this afternoon there's gonna be more fun. I'm making crustless quiche cups and stir fried cabbage with carrots and bean sprouts.

As soon as my brand new immersion blender arrives (I had too much to carry on the plane back from NJ), I'll be starting on my list of soup recipes, and I've got a stack of other rice and/or potato based recipes to try. Plus I have to investigate the whole quinoa situation...

I foresee one major problem in the near future: running out of freezer space.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Office, v. LRC

I've just started a new part time job, and for the pay-to-effort ratio it's one of the best jobs I've ever had. Maybe THE best job. Not when you consider other factors, of course, like contributing to society or helping the human race in some fashion, but I'm enjoying what I've got.

I sit and surf the internet. Or read books. Or get work done. And maybe once every two or three hours I walk into a room, put a DVD in a player, and press play. Or take it out, put it back in the case, and turn off the lights. Does it get any better?

This has gotten me thinking about other jobs I've had, both good and bad. I don't think I'll do an in-depth study of each, but here's a bit of a highlight reel of the last however-many years:

- I served wine in tiny plastic cups and scooped brownies out of a tray.
- I played a 16 year old track star (trust me, this is hilarious) in a touring, anti-smoking propaganda play.
- I worked for a maniac.
- I worked for someone who barely spoke.
- I worked at a place where I had nowhere to sit for a week so they put me in an office with no phone and no computer, where all I could do was sit and wait for someone to give me papers to file.
- I've taught calculus. Oh yes.
- I once learned a programming language so I could write scripts for the web pages I was learning how to build.
- I babysat for a lot of children - some lovely, some definitely not.
- I stood on a street corner handing out pamphlets to passersby.
- I stood on a different street corner handing out water and energy beans to marathoners in training.
- I sat for eight hours a day and read. (Mostly.)

...and I'm sure there are more that aren't immediately coming to mind. But for my age, I feel this is a decent list of odd ways of having made a paycheck.

What are some good, bad, or just plain weird jobs you've had?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More pencils, more books...

The night before the first day of school. Didn't this used to be exciting? Didn't it - once upon a time - involve elaborately planned outfits and freshly filled pencil cases?

I'm celebrating the night before the first day of school by washing my sheets (mmm clean, flannel sheets!), drinking tea (apple cinnamon spice), and watching Food, Inc. on Netflix streaming. (It's very good. And horrifying. Watch it.)

This does not seem a proper celebration.

And yet... I feel like it's a pretty awesome way to spend a Tuesday night...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

May you live in uneventful times.

Back in Nashville just in time to catch the tail end of the cold snap. It's been even colder here than in Jersey the last week or two, which I guess means I picked a good time to be out of town. Today the temp was about the same in both places... but somehow the cold in Nashville doesn't feel quite as cold.

Fortunately it's due to warm up in both places this week, and of course a bit more here than there. As much as I love my down coat, I'll be very happy to leave it hanging in the closet.

Meanwhile, the highs in San Francisco are nearly 60 all week...

The best thing I can say about the traveling I've been doing the last year and a half is that TRAVEL has finally stopped seeming like a BIG DEAL. You just get on a plane. Well, you stand around the airport for a good long while, and let people invade your privacy pretty thoroughly, and then sit around a while longer, and THEN you get on a plane. But still. Not that big a deal. All it takes is money. ("All." Ha!) And so (as I try to find some magic money tree seeds) the list of places to travel to continues to grow.

As for today's travel, the best thing I can say about it is that - except for the unexpected extra hour of sitting in Newark airport surrounded by college students who apparently all think leggings are the same thing as pants (THEY'RE NOT) - it was uneventful. That's my favorite kind of travel: uneventful.

In fact the whole day has been monumentally uneventful, and right now that seems about perfect. Kroger was uneventful. Whole Foods was uneventful. My Netflix DVD and frozen (gluten free!) dinner were entirely uneventful. And now I'm going to get into my uneventful bed and have some (hopefully) uneventful sleep so I can be ready for what I can only pray (to any god who might be listening) will be an uneventful week.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hello, 2010! It's about time you got here!

Hello, Interwebs. It’s been a while, I know – sorry about that.

2009 was an interesting year, and by “interesting” I mean it involved at least 6 courses of antibiotics, the making of 4 or 5 short films (depending on how you count), the writing of 40 screenplay pages, the designing of a water slide… Yes, suffice it to say that 2009 was an interesting year, and that’s why I was in hiding for most of it.

But I’m back! In case there’s anyone out there reading. And there’s so much to say, about so many new adventures! (Don’t the exclamation points make those adventures sound fun and exciting?! See, like that!)

I’m supposed to be sleeping, but I’ll just give you a brief preview of some of the adventures of the moment. We have:
- the documentary film making adventure.
- the writing songs for a musical adventure.
- the gluten free diet adventure.
- the where-will-I-be-for-the-summer adventure.
- the learning to love Tennessee/the South/Middle America adventure.

As you can imagine, some of these adventures are more fun and exciting than others, but I think they all have potential. It all depends on how you look at them… and now that I’m no longer eating gluten or dairy, I mostly look at them from a very optimistic point of view. Except for bread. I’m having a hard time being optimistic about bread. But I’m trying.

Anyhow – more on bread, and all the rest of it, soon. No, really. I might even post some photos! (See? Exclamation points! Exciting!)

For the moment, I hope you’re all keeping warm, wherever you are. And if you’re in a place where keeping warm in January isn’t an issue… can I come visit?