Saturday, June 30, 2007

Surprises and Memories

Friday night I was part of a surprise. It's been in the works for a few weeks and I have been absolutely itchin' to write about it here, but for fear that those being surprised might decide to actually pop in and read (MURIEL) I didn't dare say anything even hinting at it.

The surprise was part of a birthday bash weekend. The Fletchers were coming to New York. Joey (sorry, is it just Joe now?) had arranged to bring his nearest and dearest to New York for a whirlwind weekend of Wicked and whatever to celebrate his 50th birthday. Erin, Joey's sister, thought it would be a terrific surprise for him and their mother (who also just had a birthday) if some of their old neighbors who still live in New York could just 'happen' to be at the hotel when they arrived. I got Erin's email asking if I would be around and thought, Just TRY to keep me away! So tonight I was hanging out in a New York City hotel lobby waiting for someone to tell me not to loiter, reading a collection of Poe, waiting for the big arrival with a cell phone and camera in my lap. Secretive text messages were being sent "we're waiting for the luggage" - "look for Diane and Mary in the lobby"... I was ready with the camera every time the lobby doors opened.

This was an event screaming "take a Xanax", but I stuck it out without chemical assistance - 'cause I'm tough like that. (Stop laughing!) Truly, this is the type of thing that induces my party-phobia. But I managed to hold it together, and of course, once they arrived and the 'surprise' happened, I was fine.

It was like a convention had just arrived in town. There were 15 in the Fletcher party alone, add me and three of the Flynn girls - the Flynns lived on the opposite side of the Fletchers when we were kids - as well as two of their daughters . . . it was a crowd. The amazing thing is that while I saw Erin just a couple of years ago, and Muriel about 15 years ago, I haven't seen the others in over 30 years. How this is possible when I'm barely 30 myself I cannot explain. And for everyone who is trying to do the math on my age: STOP IT RIGHT NOW. Just roll with me, will ya? Thanks.

While seeing these people again was amazing, and extremely comfortable - it's hard to feel uncomfortable with the Fletchers - there were also some difficult moments. Not unexpected, but still difficult. I knew these things would come up even in the short couple of hours we were all chatting, but still as I much as I knew they would come up and I had prepared for it, old resentments bubble up.

Not resentments towards these people who I grew up with, resentments about the lies I grew up with. Of course I saw it coming. These were the kids who my parents, my mother in particular, would have wanted and they in turn had nothing but good to say about my parents. In fact they were saying how, to them, my mother was the one they would 'run away to' when things were bad at home. That my house was the 'safe, quiet place'. My resentment is about wishing that what was true for them had been true for me. Because I always knew how things looked from the outside, and I knew how my parents would have preferred any one of those kids to me; but I knew that none of them knew that. My parents, and their secrets and lies, had so many people convinced that what they saw was what was real. Neighbors, family, everyone bought it.

Needless to say, all those lies, all those cover-ups, are the reason for my belief in candor.

So it was a little tough hearing how 'we' were viewed, even though I knew already. Confirmation is sometimes tough to hear.

What was funny though was the universal agreement that I was meant to be in New York "we always knew [it's where you belonged] from when you were about 4". And that, of course, is true. It was no secret - ever - that I did not fit into that life out in the 'burbs. In this case confirmation was simply amusing, and a little gratifying.

It's amazing how many emotions you can run through in a two hour period. But when I left them tonight it felt like they all still lived 'next-door' and I was going home knowing that I'd see them tomorrow (which I will). This however was not the same feeling I'd have as a child; when it was time to go home on a summer's night after dark, usually long before anyone else. The difference being going home now is not a bad thing. Going home is going to MY home. There is no fear of familial violence. No wondering if anyone is going to be drunk or crazy. My home now is a truly safe and quiet place. A place where there are no lies and there is peace.

Tomorrow I'm meeting 'the neighbors' for dinner and Wicked. How f-ing sweet is THAT? Pretty damned sweet, I'd say. Of course there will be more here about it. I hope you'll come back for the updates!

Good neighbors are wonderful. Good neighbors who stay friends more than 3 decades after they move away is miraculous. But having them only blocks away, even for a weekend, makes my safe and happy home even better.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Someone let the drama-chipmunk have a light sabre

Is it wrong that I find this creature so effing hysterical?

Old Friends and Black-outs

Today I saw a friend of mine who I have not seen in absolutely ages. Far too long. I met Maria when we worked together here in New York. I believe it was the first day we met that she taught me how to shoot rubber bands with precision. She is one funny woman, and has pulled some very entertaining stunts but my favorite Maria-Hall-of-Fame moment was the way she quit that job - via fax. This was in the pre-email days (yes, we were breaking child-labor laws, shut up!) and the fax machine was a thermal paper fax. You remember those rolls of awful paper that would fade out almost before you could finish reading them? It was a very appropriate way to leave a soul-sucking job where she was over-worked and far too under appreciated. I remember waiting to hear that the fax had been received and practically wetting my pants laughing when the shitheel guy she worked for asked if I knew about THIS. Uh. Yeah dumbass. He was such a schmuck.

Of course when I saw her today I just rambled on and on - she's terrifically kind and laughs at my shtick. Unfortunately all I need is the slightest encouragement (i.e., a laugh) and I will milk it for all its worth and she barely got a word in. Hopefully we'll get together again soon so SHE can actually talk!

When we worked together we also lived in the same general direction so we would take the bus home together. It was the long way home, the train would be faster, but the bus was more fun. Because we were very mature women we played the seat switch game on a regular basis. We'd get on the bus and there would typically be no seats, so we stood. But we wouldn't just accept the standing - no. We would scope out the crowd and stand near people based on their appearance, we could guess where they would be getting off. You can tell. You really can. So we'd hover over these poor folks and when they got off we'd snag their seats. Then when other 'better' seats became available we'd rush to take those. It was silly, but what's great about Maria is that while she gives off a very competent-business-type, no-nonsense vibe, at heart she is a big goofball - and that's FUN! Maria is one of the few people who has seen me eat on the street. I know, I know. I do not enjoy doing it, but I admit that at the San Gennaro Festival I have had no choice: zeppoles are best when fresh and that means eating them out of a greasy paper bag while maneuvering through throngs of people and getting confectioner's sugar all over your black clothes. I don't do San Gennaro with just anyone. But Maria's good and keeps me from being overly self-conscious about the whole eating/making a mess thing.

From time to time we would walk through Chinatown and catch our slow-bus home further uptown. It gave us a chance to explore the shops. On one of these walks we were examining Thousand Year Eggs (or as we would refer to them: rotten eggs, YUM!) that were displayed outside the shop when a man inside tapped on the glass. He was waving a duck foot at me and beckoning us to come inside.

Um. No thanks. Gonna pass on that tasty duck foot for now!

I love Maria and she makes me laugh and she sees the silliness around her. Not everyone does that. I really am blessed with such great friends.

After this fiesta of reunion, birthday and vegan chow I did a little grocery shopping. I was near Trader Joe's and they have the best selection of CHEAP frozen veggies so I was compelled to stop in and stock up before I headed home. I got a great haul, but it was insanely hot today so shopping for frozen vegetables at a store that is a good 1/2 hour away from home might have been risky: but I'm just that kind of dare-devil. By the time I got home I was a dishrag. I'm not kidding: HOT out there today. So I threw the veggies into the freezer (they had survived the trip) and hopped into the shower. When I came out I turned on the computer to start this very post when I heard thunder... then the lights flickered... the computer clicked off and my entire neighborhood went into full black-out. I just bought enough FROZEN veggies to feed an army and the electricity went off! YES, good times.

Despite the fear of the possible loss of the veggies - or the horror of having to eat 14 lbs of haricot verts before they go bad - it really was good times. My block becomes a regular party town when the lights go out. Normally it's a pretty friendly block, lots of dogs seem to make chatting with the neighbors more acceptable, but when we lose electricity people are hopping to bring out the candles and booze. It's kind of sweet actually. So I wasn't really upset with the loss of electricity, but I had no idea what was going on and I do NOT like that. Luckily I got some information from Lori who was in non-blacked-out midtown and knowing it was just a Con Edison problem was a relief. The lights popped back on less than an hour later and all was back to normal. But later, when I took Basil out, I ran into several neighbors and we all agreed that we had been a little disappointed when the lights came back on.

New Yorkers: we have such a rep for being brusque or cold. Truth is we're the nicest, friendliest people you'd ever want to meet. We're just busy. But when the electricity fails we're off the hook. We can't work. Can't be 'doing-doing-doing' and it's like we have permission to chill and hang out, and just be. Even with the lights back on, we tried to hold onto that 'black-out' feeling.

Old friends and black-outs: just a couple more reasons to be happy to be alive. Oh... and LOTS of frozen veggies!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The slave bakes and Basil is bored

Lately, when I'm not in the kitchen, I'm running around to various stores looking for ingredients or at the gym, or reading cookbooks with a glee that should be reserved for erotica. Meanwhile, the dog is not thrilled.

He's not so into the vegan change around here. (I think he'd like an egg.) Yet he did go nuts for the sliced jicama I gave him the other day. I mean nuts! I had to run and hide the jicama before he ate it all - which probably wouldn't have been a problem, but if it was we all know just who would have to clean it up. I'll say no more.

It's hot, hot, hot today and I still baked. Yup. At least it was a quick 20 minutes so things didn't get too hellish from the oven.

I feel really, exceptionally busy. Overwhelmed busy. Yet I'm not entirely sure what I'm busy doing. (Aside from the experiments in cooking). Maybe it's all the thinking. That'll wear you out.

I was thinking about food. (Shocking, I know.) Thinking, really, about my complex and often annoying relationship with food. It's been a life-long issue. From my mother's inedible stove-top abominations (spare-ribs with sauerkraut and potatoes... boiled to a beautiful grey. Yum.) to my ridiculous anxiety about eating in public (I'm better there, but oy sometimes... and I am not someone you will ever find eating while walking down the street) food has always been a sore point. Mirrors in public are also problematic, but food has always been the root of issue-laden anxieties. Which, naturally, led to body-issues which were helped along enormously by an alcoholic/anorexic mother who at 5'7" weighed 110lbs at her heaviest and brought me to Weight Watchers at 11 years of age. I was 5' 4" tall and yes, bigger than the other kids because I was FULLY GROWN in the fourth grade people. (okay that's an exaggeration - I did grow another 1/2") But I was wearing a "B" cup in elementary school. That's not fat, that's precocious hormones! Still. That first diet started a chain of "I suck" that continued on for decades. Nice.

So here I am now. Astounded at how much better I am. Better about forgiving myself for the stupid things I used to berate myself for on a regular basis (and by stupid I mean STOOPID: why didn't you dust today?!!). Better about not hating my body quite so much (honestly, I adore my ass. Go figure.) Better about not feeling guilty for eating. Better about not feeling obnoxious and vain about thinking I'm not entirely beast-like ugly. Better about everything.

It hit me this morning: the food thing.

I'm a Vegan for a month and I realize I'm actually feeling comfortable about food, buying it, talking about it but most importantly not apologizing for eating it!! Hell, I started a blog to TALK about and SHOW OFF what I EAT! That and all the dozens of photos of myself that I've put up here is HUGE for me. Huge! Because these are long-held sore points for me. And it occurred to me this morning that I seem to be okay with these [former] I.S.S.U.E.S. all of a sudden. Without planning on it. Without 'working' on it. Without even noticing it was happening.

I don't know if it's because I'm experiencing a nutritional epiphany because I'm (very likely) a helluva lot better nourished than I was before, or because I'm eating without worrying about the fat content, carb content, calories - just whether or not it has any animal products in it. I eat, I feel great, and I'm losing weight... without stressing it.

Just another wonderful thing about being alive. The wonders of getting over myself.

Basil, on the other hand, will NEVER get over himself. But I like him this way."Woman, get that camera out of my face and go make me something yummy to eat!"

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Is there a point?

Apparently there is. It's not quite as sharp and pointy as I had visualized, but there's definitely a point.

To this blog, I mean.

I can't know the exact number, but of the tens of thousands (and by tens I do mean literally 10... the thousands may come later) of people who pass through this site accidentally, or via a search for something I made obscure reference to, or because they know I will come after them with a real-live pointy stick love me, I do know of a couple that I may have made some small difference to by writing about my... what do I call it? Journey? eh.. alright it'll do (I'm not feeling the thesaurus right now). I am not about to go blabbing anyone else's business on this blog, I may not be anonymous here, but they are (yes, oddly enough, your secrets are safe with me... go figure!). So while I can't give details I can say that there is a point.

The whole point (sorry, I'm so repetitive) of starting this blog was to offer up an example that someone in trouble might see, and that just knowing someone else [that'd be me: example girl] had been in the same dark place and was now in such a vastly different, wonderfully GOOD place might give them some encouragement. The way I had inadvertently, and wholly by accident (and incredible good luck) been given an example. Sure it's a little tiny drop in a vast ocean, a message in a bottle in a somewhat polluted ocean, but one of the wonderful things about this internet we have here is that if you sift through it you might just find that message - and it could be the very thing you needed to hear.

I know there's no way for me to give back the wonderful gift I was given: this [still] newly-found sense of joy (I swear my name really is problematic) that is my every day life now. That was a once-in-a-lifetime, seriously life-altering gift. But for me, knowing that even one person [possibly 10s of people] might find a tenth of the gift I was given, and take it for their own and run with it (while holding the pointy end of the stick down so as not to hurt anyone), is just one more very joyous gift back to me.

Selfish, ain't I?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

one of my favorite things....

I have expressed my utter enjoyment of men in their underwear on this blog at least a million times on several occasions. When I saw this short video I knew I needed to post it. You knew I did too.

Sit back with a nice cup of International Coffee, or a shot of Tequila, and enjoy.

It's never NOT fun. Really.

Where does the time go?

I really don't know how the days whip by so fast. I'd like to request longer days, but I don't know who I could write to.

I woke up with a headache today which is annoying, and weird. Though I should have gone to the gym I really couldn't face that damned boring elliptical machine with a headache so I opted to create a new dish.

Yeah. Because it's always good to cook instead of work out.

But I came up with a really yummy pigeon pea curry all on the fly with stuff that was around and no recipe and I have to say it came out so great I'm even more full of myself than I was yesterday. Hard to believe. But true. Soon my head will simply NOT fit through the door. Good thing I have a big tub of vegan margarine to grease the doorway so I can push through when the dog decides he will deign to go out.

I still have the headache, but now that I've 'created' and eaten the fabulous curry I feel like I can haul it over to the gym with enough "oompf" to face that stupid machine. Power beans. Yes.

*lightbulb moment*
Oh... maybe I have a headache BECAUSE my head is getting so big.

It's almost 1:00! What have I been doing all morning???!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

there are cupcakes

But you have to go here to see 'em.

Oh yeah. I'm obsessed. BIG TIME!

When you think you're a drama queen...

Remember, there's always someone more dramatic.

This little guy should be doing Sunset Boulevard on Broadway.

(fyi: click on the picture-it's a video)

Sum, Sum, Summmer time!

Happy Solstice!

It's officially summer. It's only 69 degrees, but that's global warming for you. Regardless of the temperature it is the first day of summer and I revamped the bloggy. I may have loosened up a bit about the chick flicks, but all that pink was starting to get to me. In honor of the summer, things are green again!

Also in honor of the new season, I'm making green things today.

Mint chocolate chip ice "cream" and green tea cupcakes!

With all this green flying around one would hope some monetary green would wend it's way into my hands - but I'm just being greedy! I feel green today! Someone stop the chlorophyll madness! I want to smell fresh cut grass and walk barefoot in the park (not the play, actually walk barefoot in the park... in the grass). Odds are good I won't get to that today, but I can give it a shot.

Since I do tend to obsess... uh, anyone notice that at all? Yeah. Okay, well... I decided I'm a little heavy on the new-found vegan obsession here so I'm creating a new place to vent my culinary good times. When it's set up I'll post a link. In the meantime I have to go pick up some last minute ingredients, some dog food, and try to scoot over to the park in the midst of cooking to get my toesies into some grass.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I'm coco-nutty. . . and you love it!

Famous last words: this is not a food blog. It's like my diatribe about how I hate chick flicks. I really do like to go against the grain. Even if I'm the grain! But I've gotten a bit of positive feedback on my foodie posts/pix - and I've always been one to milk the attention if I can. So without any more preamble: here's the veggie ice cream of the day!

I couldn't make a decision about whether I wanted to stir-in pineapple chunks or chocolate chips, so I did neither and just served 'em up one of each. May I say, completely objectively, this is some serious dessert!

I started with the fantastic Coconut Squared recipe at A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise but now that I'm such a pro (yeah, right) I made some subtle changes. Instead of sugar I used Agave Nectar. Oh yes I did - it makes me feel like Mexico is that much closer. I also used light coconut milk. Not that either of these makes this a particularly low calorie product, but it's a little better. Apparently Agave Nectar has a lower glycemic index than sugar, although it is sweeter, so not only do you need to use less of it but it won't make your blood sugar spike and fall. This is a good thing for people like me, who have some sugar issues. Like LOVING it. It's that blood sugar spike and fall that makes you want more, so if it doesn't spike, it doesn't fall and you're good with a rational serving. At least that's the theory!

This is by far the creamiest textured of the three frozen yummies I've made and that mouth feel is so like 'real' ice cream that it's hard to believe there's no dairy in it. I swear, I'm going to end up being the 300lbs vegan if I'm not careful.

Monday, June 18, 2007

¡Es hora para mí de estudiar español otra vez!

Yup, time to crack the books and brush up the little Spanish I know. Because, as I mentioned briefly in another post: I'm going to Mexico!

It may be ill-advised what with the not-working and such, but my friend Gary wanted to go and how could I refuse? (Splitting the cost of the trip made it easy for me to rationalize the expense - but let's face it: I didn't need much encouragement!)

We're only going for 7 days, but Gary will probably be happier that way as I may be able to contain my innate bitchiness for that long. Of course in Mexico I'm a LOT more relaxed so the bitch may just disappear. Oh... oh... hang on, wait -- I feel hysterical laughter coming on.... whew... wow, that was a good one. *ahhhhh* Better now.

I have 28 days to attempt to regain my Level 2 Spanish. Oh sure, no problem! It's me and Pimsleur every day until we get on the plane. That should make me fluent. Stop, stop... that laughter is bubbling up again. Okay. Control. Calm. Deep breath. It's all good.

I really loved the Spanish classes I took, but as often happens when you study a new language, if you don't have someone to practice with it all sort of dissipates. I try to watch Spanish television, when I rent a movie that has Spanish subtitles or dubbing I turn that on, and I always eavesdrop on conversations on buses or trains to see if I can get the gist of things from native speakers who are actually conversing at a normal speed (listening to recorded lessons... well, they slow it down for you quite a bit). I'm actually really good at understanding what is said, this happened when I was learning ASL (American Sign Language) as well. My comprehension is oddly acute. My ability to communicate MY words is the problem. That's the thing that you need a partner to practice with. Someone to correct your pronunciation (or your signing) and let you know if you're on the right track. In a pinch with Spanish I suppose I could try writing it out, but that's not the best course of action. Picture it: you're drowning in the gorgeous Caribbean Ocean and want to get someone to help you. Hang on, let me grab a pencil. Does anyone have a piece of paper... no? Okay, drowning now. Never mind.

See. You need to be able to get that message out FAST.

I know I don't really need to be proficient. The place we're staying is staffed by the most multi-lingual people I have ever met: they all seem to be fluent in a minimum of 4 languages! Impressive? Yeah, a little bit. I mean there are days when ONE language has me stumped!

Still I'm going to see how much of what I learned can be refreshed, because although it might not be a necessity, it certainly is helpful. And respectful of the country and people you are visiting. Just knowing words like "exit" when you arrive at the airport makes the experience of traveling in a different country a little easier. Plus when is it not fun to learn new things?

On one of my trips to Mexico I had a cab driver whose English was as good as my Spanish. We chatted the whole trip, each of us trying to practice the other's language. We didn't get very far, but it was fun to try. On another cab ride I had a driver who was fluent in English and Spanish and had a little Maya (his dad taught him). He taught me about a dozen Mayan words and explained easy phonetic ways to remember them and their meanings and derivations! Now THAT was a great cab ride!

Americans tend to be so closed-minded about learning any language other than English that it's just embarrassing. What's wrong with learning to communicate in other languages? My father actually grew up speaking two languages: Polish and English. How great is that? Well... not so great to him apparently.

He went to a Polish language school in Queens. He grew up in the Polish ghetto and Polish was the language he knew best (though of course he also knew English). But when he moved from elementary school to middle school he had a bad experience that soured him on being bi-lingual: the teacher called attendance.

She called his name: "Joseph". He did not answer. She called it again. And again. Think "Bueller. Bueller. Bueller." Finally he 'got' that it was him she was calling. It's not that he didn't know his own name (hey, this isn't a Polish joke!), it was that the teacher was pronouncing "Joseph" in ENGLISH. My poor dad didn't recognize it! He was "Yusef" at home. Who was this "Joseph" character the teacher kept calling???? Naturally the kids laughed. And that was it for my dad. After that he slowly disengaged from speaking Polish, wouldn't do it. English only. Such a pity really, because I might have grown up learning it too. As it turns out I know far more French, Spanish, ASL and even GREEK than I do Polish. (And believe me: I don't know much of THOSE!) Ah well, c'est la vie, que será, εντάξει. I'm going to Mexico and whatever language you say that in, it's MUY fantástico to me!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Basil loves to dance

I mentioned some weeks ago that my dog loves to dance to "It's Raining Men". I have been remiss in catching it on video. If I had a bigger memory card in the camera this would have been a bit longer, but I switched out the bigger one and forgot! By the time I realized the camera had stopped we were both too disco-ed out to do it again (and I had no more batteries!) But I think you can get an idea.

I know. I know. "Mommy needs to dance a helluva lot more and maybe 4-5 hours a day at the gym instead of 1 1/2 hours"Ah well. Welcome to my world!

Yes. Be afraid - it's like this ALL the time.

This is why it's best I live alone. You know, with charming critters who really don't give a damn how weird I get. Or that I really can't dance and should have aimed the camera even lower. Next time fresh batteries, bigger memory card - and full out Basil dance.

Emergency Hummus!

Out of chickpeas and starving. No time to waste... what's this? A can of black beans? Let's give it a shot!

Oooooh stop yourself, you adventurous thing you!

Same recipe as regular hummus, but a totally new taste! Black sesame seeds sprinkled on top and served with celery. (I also threw in a couple of teaspons of Flaxseed oil for the Omega oils and a little 'oompf'). This took precisely 4 minutes to make.

Sometimes being in a hurry and dealing with what you have can turn out to be a wonderful thing!

ain't got no (circadian) rhythm

I have the most bizarre chronic insomnia. I'm up when I should be down, down when I should be up and basically all messed up when it comes to sleep (where's my damned Vicki Carr album?)

This evening around 7pm I sat down to peruse the fabulous Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook that I'd gotten from the library yesterday (and instantly ordered from amazon because THIS is a book I need to have for my very own). I wanted to pick out a couple of recipes that I could make right now, with things that I already have on hand, and just GET COOKING. Um. Not so much. I woke up from my "reading" at 12:30AM! WHAT THE . . .?!!!! Whaaaaaa happpened????!!!

I'm steaming (and I don't mean broccoli!) I had planned to go out tonight - instead I'm napping like a granny after the early bird special!!! So irritating. And of course now it's 1:00 AM and I'm WIDE awake. *sigh*

If anyone has suggestions on how to normalize sleep patterns, I'd love to hear 'em. Over the years I've tried everything from cutting out caffeine to salt on the tongue (hey, I'll try anything) nothing seems to work. Even "may cause drowsiness" medications only work about 25% of the time. The only thing that does seem to work is WANTING to stay awake. . . then I'm out like a light. (I guess I'm just contrary, like my mother always said.) Sadly I can't convince myself I want to stay awake when I really want to sleep - otherwise I'd be fine and this post would not exist because I'd be out dancing . . . or at least attempting my lame ass version of dancing.

Friday, June 15, 2007

An apple a day. . .

. . . makes a lot of Apple Sorbet!

We begin here. Inauspicious? True. It's just 3 sliced green apples, tossed with some fresh lemon juice to prevent oxidation (though green apples tend to brown much more slowly than others) and then the whole thing is frozen overnight.

The next morning you mix the frozen slices with simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar boiled up (then chilled) = simple!). Then it's a semi-tedious process of pureeing the apples and syrup in a food processor. Tedious because I have a 'jr.' food processor when I need a full sized grown up version. *sigh* It's always something.
OF COURSE if anyone is interested in sponsoring me for a 'real' food-processor, I would not deprive them of that pleasure. Oh I'm kidding. No really, stop. Really. Um. Alright, I like Cuisinart if you insist.

When you've finally gotten it all pureed and smooth it looks like this!
Off this pile of slushy sweet green yumminess goes into the ice cream maker for maybe 20 minutes or so (sorbet seems to get 'done' faster than ice cream). Then you can either serve it or put it away in the freezer (for that festive dinner party... or whatnot.)
This is not the sort of thing I would think of as comfort food, as I might with other flavors (chocolate). The tartness however is perfect for after a meal - especially something spicy or heavy - on a hot day. It's sweet, but not too sweet and it's super refreshing! Besides, it's hard to resist that color.

I wanted to bring some to my friends who I have a standing Friday lunch date with, but because it's home-made it doesn't have all those binders that store-bought sorbet has to keep it stable during shipping. Had I brought it we would have been having apple Slurpees. Still. Apple-y goodness abounds at my place!

Am I famous now?

I just found out that my June 5th entry about Living Dead in Denmark was quoted on Open Source radio yesterday. You can read about (and listen to it) here. I think this is a riot - and fabulous! If you choose to listen to the broadcast, there is a link to it at the top of that page, my quote comes in at the 14.56 minute mark and lasts abour 5 seconds.

Yes, I timed it. Of course. Don't scoff, you'd do the same thing!

I think it's particularly synchronistic that this was broadcast yesterday - the same day I went to see the show that I blogged about that 'made the quote'!

Isn't the world a wild and amazing place? You just never know what's coming next.

(with that, here she goes again...)

And what is coming next is The Niagaras are at the Red Lion tonight. (Yeah, no... I never do stop.)

*sigh* When the day starts like this, who knows where it might lead?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Saying Yes. Beans and Updates

Before I head out to see Living Dead in Denmark I wanted to jump in here.

I'm all about the cooking today - it must be the chill in the air. Some pretty universal advice I'm reading in my Vegan research is to try new foods every day. This is to make sure you get the maximum nutrition and all that stuff that makes you healthy and adorable. So the other day I grabbed a bag of dried Giant Lima Beans, also called Butter Beans, off the grocery shelf because although I love lima beans, I've never tried their larger cousin. I boiled 'em up last night and then ... what to do with the cute little suckers????!

I didn't actually have a recipe for them, I was just being bold and adventurous and 'trying something new'. Totally clueless this is what I came up with. Looks kinda purty, doesn't it? I sauteed some onions and garlic in a little olive oil and vegetable stock, then threw in some cumin AND oregano, sea salt and a can of crushed tomatoes. Popped in those giant Limas and it looked like it needed a little sumpin' sumpin. So I tossed in half a bag of frozen chopped collard greens and let it all simmer. FYI: DELISH!!! And EASIER than a $2 hooker!!

I poured it over some tri-colored whole wheat rotini and it was fantastic. Also wildly filling.

I got my hands on Vegan with a Vengeance today and flipped through it while I was doing my laundry. WOW! Now all I want to do is cook this stuff! This is all so very "Not Scary" cooking. Really, you ask me to make chicken and I get palpitations, but this stuff? THIS I understand.

I know I'm still new to this whole process, but it doesn't really seem like it's new. I have vivid memories of my vegetarian days and I don't think I ever really stopped reading food labels to make sure there was nothing 'off limits' in things. Now I'm just including all animal products to that list. You'd be shocked at the ingredients in some things. Like chicken in Doritos. It's true. It's in there. Yeah, exactly. Why not throw some salmon into your chocolate bar? Weird. But then, I'm no chef.

So I'm in a big cooking mood, but I don't have any more time today. Grrrr.

I also wanted to catch up anyone who was interested in the outcome of this. I found out today I didn't get it. Ah well, c'est la vie! The theater community mourns. Well, not so much, but I'm feeding my enormous ego right now. So let me dream big! Truthfully, I'm just so happy I tried that I'm totally good with not getting it. AND it also means the pressure is off. Pressure? Well, yes. Pressure.

You see *drum roll* I'm going back to Mexico! And if I'd been cast I would have been away for a week of rehearsal time which would mean my vacation would have been stressful. So all things work out as they should. Even if it doesn't always seem like it at the time. There will be more talk of Mexico in the coming days - oh don't groan! Believe me, keeping quiet about it this long has been a struggle!!

In keeping with the theme of 'trying' I want to mention a really good blog post that my friend sent me today. You can look at it here. It's longish, but it's a really worthwhile read. Especially if you are like me and have some 'fear' habits that are holding you back. I have to say that I'm totally behind this philosophy. I wasn't always ... and when it comes to attending parties I'm still stepping to the side as far as this 'saying yes' thing goes. But I am working on it. And the trying and the saying "yes" are the things that get you to places you never imagined.

If I had not said "yes" to seeing a play almost three years ago... well, quite frankly, I'd be dead now. So let's remember that the worst that can happen if you say "YES!" is probably never going to be as bad, or boring**, as if you say "no". I'll try to remember that the next time I have a 'going to a party' melt-down.

** this does not apply if you say "yes" to going to see The Pirate Queen on Broadway because it sucks the big monkey cock. Sorry. I know that was just rude, but so was sitting through that show....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Geez... get a room!

I know the title of this blog is "I've got a crush on... Me!" but that was about the process of being happy to be alive, healthier, saner, and learning to love myself instead of hating myself enough to want to die. Lately it seems to be working. A little too well!!! And I'm wondering if that's such a good thing. Lately, I'm all about me, me, and just to switch it up: ME. I am finding myself to be the most fascinating creature on the face of the planet, and it sort of snuck up on me.

I should buy myself some flowers and light some candles, put on some good music and just be with myself for some deep conversation... if you will.

It's weird. For me it is particularly weird. It's not like I haven't experienced this self-absorption from time to time in the past, not like I haven't been on the occasional trip to big ego land, but this feels different. Usually this sort of thing is a direct result of a momentary bit of praise and it lasts just as briefly. It's great, but very fleeting. The past couple of days ... let's just say it's not so fleeting. That feels ... odd. And a little bit wrong.

Maybe it's a result of the new way of eating, which I need to stop posting about or run the risk of turning this into a full-out food blog instead of an anti-suicide, learn to love life blog. Maybe it's a result of the tremendous amount of cardio I've been doing. Maybe it's because for the first time in my life I'm surrounded by people who are good to me, kind to me and seem to actually think I'm worthwhile. Maybe my meds are too strong all of a sudden; or maybe... and this is the scariest of all... maybe I'm actually beginning to like love myself - for real. For the first time. Finally.

That's scary for a self-loathing egomaniac to face, let alone admit to!

To actually love myself means I have to let go of a LOT of old defense mechanisms, and that leaves me in a very vulnerable place in this crazy world. Can I get new defense mechanisms? I don't know!! I'm afraid you pick a set at birth and you're stuck! But what the hell do I know?
Do I even need defense mechanisms? Maybe those are the very things that keep me from finding what I want in life.... or not. Again, what the hell do I know?

How can I possibly get through a day without self-deprecation? I mean it's humorous, but probably not so kind to 'the one you love'. I don't know... I've spent my life wearing that cloak of you can't hurt me, if I don't have that... hell, what do I wear?!!! And what color does it come in?

It never occurred to me that I might REALLY feel like this about HER, so I'm at a loss. It's sort of like going on a date with someone you don't really feel attracted to and waking up a couple of weeks later to find you're in love. What the hell is THAT about?!

Maybe I should stop worrying about it and just be with it. Maybe it will pass and I can be my old self, not so much loathing myself as I used to but not so head over heels either. If it doesn't pass, I'm not sure where to go with it.

This being alive thing, I swear, it's full of surprises.

Time to shut up. C'mon honey, let's put on some Barry White and cuddle.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Scream, You Scream, We all Scream....

For Vegan ice cream! Okay it doesn't scan exactly the same way, but it tastes divine!

I've been a fan of soy frozen desserts for a while now. Some people don't find them creamy enough but I like 'em. Sadly the flavors available are not always the flavors available in 'regular' ice cream and so a decision has to be made: healthy or cool new flavor? Ahh, not so now!

I ordered an ice cream/frozen yogurt/sorbet machine over the weekend. I've been looking at the tempting recipes on A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise for months and really felt the need to try to make my own. Because as I've mentioned, desserts/baking I'm good with... cooking, not so much. So I ordered the Cuisinart ice cream machine - in RED! I love that It arrived yesterday. Ohhh so exciting!!

I couldn't actually start anything as you have to let the inner chamber of the machine freeze up before you can use it - and it can take up to 22 hours to freeze. So I had to wait until tonight. On Sunday night I got a great deal on bananas (6 for $1 - nice, the fruit stand guy wanted to pack up and go home so everything was priced low). But I knew I'd never eat 6 bananas before they went completely brown and mushy. And I do not enjoy the mushy bananas. Both the dog and the cat love bananas - but even they will not touch one that starts to speckle. Ta-Da!! Banana ice cream to the rescue!

I've always liked Ben & Jerry's flavor Chunky Monkey - so I borrowed the Peanut-butter Banana recipe from Vegan Ice Cream Paradise and left out the peanut butter, threw in an extra banana and pecans and vegan chocolate chips (mini). No, it's not 'low calorie' because there is brown sugar in it, but it's really fresh, really yummy and I am going to guess at the cost of a quart ... somewhere around $2.00 at most. Try finding any sort of decent ice-cream like product at that price for a PINT, let alone a quart!

I love that there's nothing in this that I can't pronounce - and there's nothing in it that I'm wondering "exactly what IS carrageenan... hmmm???? " It's also gratifying to know I can make any ol' flavor I want. Next I'm attempting Green Apple Sorbet, which I had for the first time about 6 months ago and it blew me away. I've had good sorbets before but nothing this fresh and crisp: it literally tasted like you were eating a frozen green apple. Though I don't know how simple it would be to eat a frozen green apple... probably a good way to break a tooth.

So here's my first attempt at vegan "ice cream" the banana, pecan, chocolate chip. Thanks to Agnes L.'s recipe for the starting point. I think I'm going to be making a lot of frozen fun this summer. This is being Vegan? Bring it on!

Yeah, I know. Go to bed Joy.

What's cookin'????

Don't know if you'd actually call it 'cooking' but I made some hummus this evening and here it is!This is not an earth shattering event. I've been making humus for *a-hem I'm old a-hem* years. But I actually haven't whipped it up in a long time, which is silly because it is so ridiculously easy to make that even I can do it!

It's really simple. Possibly the simplest hummus recipe ever. I got this from my high school friend, Noreen, who got it from her Lebanese in-laws after college. It's easy to remember, and easy to do.

Noreen's 1-3-3-3 Hummus*
1 big can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 cloves of garlic
3 Tablespoons of Lemon juice
3 Tablespoons of Tahini (sesame paste)

Drain about 1/3 of the liquid out of the chickpea can then dump the chickpeas and the remaining liquid into a food processor. Throw in the other three ingredients and pulse until it's a consistency you like. I like mine really smooth, but chunky is a choice as well. Taste before serving as you may find the garlic overpowering everything and you can fix that with a little extra squeeze of lemon juice. You'll know when the taste is right.

Plop that yumminess into a pretty bowl, sprinkle some paprika on it if you like, serve with pita, or pita chips, or veggies, or crackers (like in my picture).

*she never called it that - I just made that up now to show how simple it is to remember what goes into it. And if you don't have a food processor you could try the blender but I think a potato masher would work better.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Am I a Vegan now????

Two weeks ago today I started a 'detox' eating program. What that boils down to is Vegan with no sugar and no processed or simple carbohydrates. It was supposed to last 9 days and then back to 'normal'. I have no desire to go back to normal. I LIKE this!

I was a vegetarian for close to a decade - way back when - you know, when there were dinosaurs and such. But my primary reason for it was ethical. Didn't want to eat the little animals (nor the big ones!) And I'd never been a big fan of meat to begin with. But I couldn't rationalize avoiding meat while I fed it to my pets (not the Iguana, he was a veg too). So eventually my resolve failed and I gave in to the lure of a burger - primarily because I love all the stuff that comes WITH a burger. But I am still not a huge fan of meat, and ate it very infrequently at home. Though I did enjoy the filet mignon at a restaurant... Now I find that excising dairy has made a HUGE difference in how I feel. I have WAY too much energy, drink less coffee (let's face it, giving that up forever is not gonna happen: I am committed to worshipping at the temple of java), and feel really 'clean'. It's kinda great.

I have been seriously toying with doing this for almost 2 years - I did a cleansing fast liquid diet thing and afterwards stayed vegan for a couple of weeks but I hadn't done my homework, I didn't really get into exploring the Vegan options that are available. When I was a Veg there were VERY few options. Eating in restaurants was always a minefield - and that was lacto-ova vegetarianism! Vegan? Forget it. But now things have changed. There are sooooo many options it's unbelievable! I'm like a kid in a candy store (metaphorically speaking).

In the two weeks I've been doing this I have been at the gym nearly every single day doing an hour to an hour and a half of cardio JUST to burn off some energy! I mean it's insane - I'm literally bouncing off the walls. Of course that's because I'm sorta clumsy and those pesky walls keep popping out in front of me, but you know what I'm getting at here. I've also lost 8.5 lbs with no effort whatsoever. Trust me, I am well-versed in the land of diet - name it, I've tried it. I have diet books from when I was 11 years old fer cryin' out loud. Having an anorexic mother gives you a great head start to a life time of issues about your weight and appearance. Yay mom!

But I digress.

So I started this vegany thing for my health, for my brain (healthy carbs = more serotonin and I love me the serotonin), and let's face it people: for my looks. I'm vain. I'm vain and not vain. It's weird and typical of me. I mean I'm vain about some things and others not so much. My skin, I'm vain. I don't want to look my age - not that I mind my age, I've never been happier in my life than I am right now - but I just don't want to LOOK it!! And I have a friend who's a vegan who has the most fantastic skin - simply bee-oo-tee-full, you just want to keep touching it... which starts getting weird - so... you know... worth a shot, right? Though my beloved grandmother had easily the most beautiful, softest, clearest skin ever right up until she died and it's tempting to try her regime (Noxema, 65+ years old and she was using Noxema... the smell of that stuff still reminds me of her) but it's just too harsh for my delicate baby skin. Awwww, poor Joy she's soo tender. So I'm going to rely on Grandma's genetics and help it along with eating like the healthiest fool on the planet and hope it serves me well.

In the meantime, I have to extol the virtues of eating this way. I just do.

In all the time I was a Vegetarian I never dropped weight like this, oh some, sure, but not like this. And more importantly I never FELT this good! The only explanation I can see is the elimination of ALL animal products, i.e. dairy. I would never have believed that dairy products would be a problem. I don't have any sort of lactose intolerance issues so I never realized how it was affecting me in more subtle ways than a stomach ache. And because I LOVE baking I could never see myself living on a diet that eliminated eggs - how could I bake without eggs?!! Well, I made a lactose-free cake a couple of years ago for a friend with lactose intolerance and found that it was not only very possible to bake without any animal products, but that it tasted better and was moister and EASIER to make than any 'traditional' cake. This, of course, helped to reinforce the decision to try a vegan diet. I gots ta be able to make my cookies people!!!

The other thing I love about this is the grazing aspect. I really like a lot of different flavors and textures. I would rather eat 10 different types of hors d'oeuvres than a single entree any day of the week and eating like this makes that imminently possible. It's a lot of grab a bite of this, grab a bite of that and that satisfies my enormous need for diversity and stimulation.

I also have never enjoyed cooking. Baking, yes. Cooking, no. That was because I never could really understand the mechanics of cooking meat. My friend Josh taught me a simple way to do chicken without ruining it, and that was the way I made chicken. Seriously, pretty much the only way! My mother boiled meats... disgusting... so I never really had much practice in doing it properly. But I was still never very good with cooking meat products, or fish. But with beans I'm a pro. So this opens up an awful lot of cooking 'food' instead of desserts just waiting to be had.

Plus, the bouncing off the walls is kind of fun.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

So you do the things that scare you

It shocks me what a serious coward I am - and have I mentioned how I loathe cowardice? I do! Mainly because it's the thing that bothers me most about myself. Neurotic, okay. Coward? Yuck! Which is why I try to push past that and do things that terrify me. Did one today. Go me.

Today I went on an audition. This is funny because I have absolutely no fear of being on a stage. Getting me there? That's a whole other issue. I've gone through debilitating bouts of stage fright - but never pre-show, only pre-audition! How's that for cowardice? Not afraid to get the job, nor to DO the job, just terrified of applying for it. Oh I am a twisted one I swear.

But I went today. A complete and utter wreck who wanted to stop every five minutes to find a bathroom (if you're squeamish skip down to the next paragraph) it seems universal that actors need to urinate and or vomit excessively: especially prior to an audition and with some, a performance. Before a performance this is pretty logical: you might be stuck on stage for a good hour, or be sewn into a complicated costume, which makes using the bathroom impossible. Prior to an audition it's pure nerves and uncontrollable fight or flight response. Simple fear.

Okay safe to look again.

But again I stress: I WENT. I could have hid under the covers and never answered the phone again when the friend who suggested I do this audition-thing called to find out why I was such an utter loser. But that would have been HORRIBLE. Far worse than facing the nerves and enormous potential for embarrassment. Let's not even mention the terror of f-ing up so badly that said friend would wish he'd never even MENTIONED an audition.

Did I do okay? Hell if I know. I go blank. Totally function on auto-pilot and hope that whatever training I've had just takes over and makes it all nice. I check out. Except of course for the fact that when I check back in (after it's all over) I get the fun of replaying EVERY STUPID mistake. Every stupid comment that came out wrong - you know the ones that are supposed to be funny and charming? Yeah. They never sound funny and charming after you walk out the door and start slapping yourself in the forehead saying: "WHAT made me say THAT?!!" Oh yeah, it's fun. FUN. I tell ya!

So... I did my audition . God help me I wore my contacts which are two prescriptions old and only really good to go out and socialize in: not so good to read with, which made it reallllly easy to read from the piece of paper in my hand. Yes! Sometimes I'm just that smart. Glasses, Joy, wear the glasses!! And the part I auditioned for is supposed to be funny. I think I heard a tiny bit of laughter ... but I have been known to hallucinate in these situations. Will I get the part? Who the hell knows, certainly not me. It would be great if I did - THAT would be fun. But if not, I'm going to salve my pitiful ego with the fact that the most important part of this whole thing is: I did it. Because that's brave. I may have made a mess of it, but at least I can look in the mirror... if I'm wearing my contacts that is.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The Niagaras - wherein I wax rhapsodic

It's no secret. No, it's pretty much out there. I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm f-ing smitten with The Niagaras. I firmly believe everyone should be. I mean EVERYONE. Since Gary asked (in the comments to the previous post below), and I've never really gone into details here about what a show is like, I'll try to explain it. And I promise I'll only do it here this one time. Because honestly it's like trying to describe a religious experience to someone: you really have to go there yourself. But I'm going to try.

I do not believe you can actually condense two and one-half hours of intense joy (sorry, sometimes my name is problematic) into words, but what the hell. Can't hurt to try. Although I know from the outset I can't do them justice; or I would have tried long ago. First let me say I have rarely, if ever, seen anyone at one of these shows who was not completely swept into the sheer fun of it. The few who were not have either been too drunk to walk, too possessive of their girlfriends (who were enchanted), a little bit afraid of the unknown, or just plain devoid of any sense of taste or humor. That said, everyone else has a ball. Last night's show was exceptional.

Naturally the music is a huge component, and there is quite a bit of it on cd - you can listen to some of it here. But let me stress that the recorded versions, while wonderful, do not capture the vibrancy of a live performance. This can be said of a lot of music, but oftentimes bands will perform their recorded pieces precisely as they are on disc - people like familiarity. *yawn* But a good band will give you something different, a slightly different take on the song you know, a switched-up arrangement, and even altered lyrics (just because, you know, it's fun). The willingness to keep the music fresh and alive is paramount - otherwise the audience could simply stay home and listen to the recording. Why bother seeing a band live if you can hear the same exact, note-for-note at home in the comfort of your P.J.s and bunny slippers?

Actually you probably could wear your jammies and bunny slippers to a Niagaras show. Odds are good you would garner a lot of attention - if you don't like that sort of thing best to stick to daywear.

Now I'm at a loss. You can look at this while I think.

Okay. Let's say you start with an energy level scale of 1 to 10. I think it's safe to rate the Niagaras around a 75 on that scale and they maintain it for the duration of the show. And you can actually feel it. The room vibrates with it. There is much silliness, much teasing and hilarity. The "Whaley shenanigans" Gary asked about refer to the lead singer of the Niagaras, Robert Whaley, who Gary actually described really well the first time he saw them play. "I have never seen anyone control a room so completely" He really does. It's kinda awe-inspiring. I'm sure someone who understood the mechanics of charisma, body language and human relations could boil down what it is that makes this possible. I'm not that person. I'm going to just guess that it's sincerity. It's what happens when someone is doing what they love to do, and doing it well, that makes people respond so positively.

I've seen a lot of bands, I've seen some amazing, memorable shows: The Clash - outdoors on a pier - in a lightening storm. Death-defying and wonderful; Prince dropping into a split while wearing 5" heels, hurting himself and then continuing on for another hour without missing a beat; NRBQ at any given show, but seriously nothing compares to the level of fun, energy and endurance of a Niagaras show. Maybe it's because it feels like you're not at a 'show', it's more like a private party. There's a level of genuine warmth and personal interaction that just doesn't happen anywhere else. There's a diversity in the crowd that you don't see anywhere else - I have seen rasta-kids and old-money in evening gowns dancing together at these shows. There is a sense of 'you are welcome here' that doesn't happen anywhere else. And there is a sense of absolute delight just because you're alive that is accentuated and permeates the whole shebang.

What do you see at a Niagaras show? You see a band that has more cardio endurance than any marathon runner - how the HELL does anyone play the drums, guitar or bass for 2 1/2 straight hours? How does anyone dance and sing for 2 1/2 straight hours in a way that would make a hyperactive 8 year old pass out for a week? Practice? Maybe. Sheer delight in the exuberance of the experience? Very likely. Demonic possession? Nah, that's just a joke.

You see the occasional skit. No really. It's true! They will slip into a bit of improvisational floor show - always funny. You hear stories - always funny.

You also see a lot of... interpretive dance. That'd be Robert. The first time I saw him dance I thought, dear lord, is he okay? Within about 2 minutes all I could think was, God I wish I could do that! You know that aphorism that goes around the internet "dance like no one is looking" - that would be Robert. And you know it's intoxicating watching someone so uninhibited. Last night he spotted an older woman in the audience and pulled her up on stage to dance. This is not the first time I've seen this, and it is charming and adorable as all hell. It's lovely and sweet and funny all at the same time. This is the first time I've seen said dance partner really cook (she was movin'!) - and then assist Robert in the removal of his clothing. Yes. I may have mentioned somewhere on this blog that there is a good amount of disrobing at these shows. Admittedly one of my favorite parts, because it never gets tired. And I've seen it A LOT. Oh I know you're thinking 'eiw, sleezy' but not at all. Not even a teeny bit. Sexy sure, but never sleezy. And amusing, always. I have seen this man swing from a chandelier in his drawers and seriously it's something everyone should see.

The other members of the band are also, always, incredible and I will state here that Tony Grimaldi really is a guitar master like I've never seen. Just incredible. The drums and bass switch out from time to time, but Robert and Tony are the essence of The Niagaras and they have a tremendous chemistry.

I'm trying to be objective here, but in the end I have to 'fess up that Robert Whaley will always have a particularly special place in my heart; because it was his story that literally changed my life. I do risk becoming sappy here, but fuck it. The show that made me decide to put off my suicide and try antidepressants and TRY to find a way to live was written by Robert and Tony. Now that show is NOT a Niagaras show per se so I feel like I can exercise some sort objectivity about The Niagaras as opposed to Wrong Way Up (the show), but I know I'm still slightly biased. That's one prejudice I'm completely comfortable with and happy to have.

And like a religious experience, you can either take my word for it and see The Niagaras at your earliest opportunity or you can write me off as a big nut. Either way, I will be there whenever I can, whenever they play because there is nothing else that reminds me so viscerally just how happy I am to be alive every single minute of every single day and how much I owe to someone else's creative inspiration. And I'd love it if everyone could experience that same joy (again, sorry, there's that name again!)


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How will you spend Friday?

The Niagaras

I know you will be at the Rodeo Bar.

I will.

Won't you?

Of course.

The Niagaras @
The Rodeo Bar
27th Street & Third Avenue
10:00 pm - no cover

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Shakespeare and zombies

There is something about mixing Shakespeare with zombies that is simply irresistible to me. Can't say why for sure. It's just how I'm wired I guess.

The Vampire Cowboys Theatre Company is reviving their fantastic LIVING DEAD IN DENMARK for 4 days only (June 12-15) as part of the First National Asian American Theater festival. Tix are only $18 and so worth more than that!

When I saw this show and I was laughing my ass off. So I feel compelled to let everyone know they have a chance to see it if they missed its earlier run.

Are you a Shakespeare fan? A Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan? A Night of the Living Dead fan? Are you breathing and in possession of a sense of humor? Do you long for a well-written turn of phrase and clever storyline on a live stage? If you can say yes to any of the above, you MUST go see Living Dead in Denmark.

Funny, funny stuff here.

Just sayin'.

Monday, June 04, 2007

What's good about being alive?

Well honey, what isn't? Oh sure, you can rattle off a ton of things - I could too and if you'd caught me just over 3 years ago I'd have had nothing but stuff for that list. But really the things that would go on that list don't compare to how lucky we are to have life. Really.

If the me of 3 years ago was here to read this I guarantee girlfriend would snark, possible make gagging sounds, and then go sit in the bathroom with an Exact-o knife and debate how warm the water in the tub should be for maximum effectiveness, my guess would be the temperature of tears. That was one sad chick. She gets a little blurry in my memory sometimes and I wonder if I'll ever fully forget her. But I kinda hope I never do. It's because I was so far gone, so hopeless and cynical, isolated and gaslighted that I am here now, in this place I could never have imagined. This place where there aren't people in my life who hurt me - who I allowed to hurt me - and where so many wonderful things happen on pretty much a daily basis. There is SO MUCH out there that it's overwhelming - in a good way. This is not to say that everything in my path is perfect and sunny and sugary enough to kill a diabetic, but every day there seems to be something that makes me smile or laugh or feel amazed or just plain GOOD.

And that my dears is a long way from the woman I was.

How do you say thank you? How do you express enduring, eternal gratitude for being given a chance to be so happy - finally? There is no way. No way that is adequate. Oddly enough, just feeling grateful makes me happy. Isn't that strange? I guess I used to associate feelings of gratitude with charity, helplessness - owing a bad, embarrassing debt. I suppose this comes from deeply rooted feelings of worthlessness, having my confidence and self-esteem undermined on a very regular basis by people who 'loved' me. But as I said, those people are gone, either dead or dismissed, because although I may not be the queen of confidence I do know that I am not worthless. And I am (pardon me) FUCKING BLESSED with the absolute best people in my life.

One example is my very good friend Phil. (I'm leaving this blank until I hear from him that it's okay to use his name because I don't want to embarrass him.) Here's part of the story: you know this acting thing I don't do very often but that I love? Yeah. That. Well to do that one needs a headshot and a resume. I want to say I've been too lazy to get that stuff together and go audition, but the truth is I'm too scared. Despite my terrible insomnia-issues, the one thing that makes me go to sleep like a charm is fear. Now in this case rather than falling asleep I just kept putting off doing the picture... and re-doing the resume... for about a year and a half. Oh yeah, you go Speedy! I can put things off like nobody else.

On my first trip to Mexico (in March 2006!) I wrote up a "To-Do" list in my journal for my return to New York. Guess what's right up there at the top of the list? Yes. You get a gold star!

The other day I spent a good 6 hours taking photos of myself because an opportunity to audition for a new play came up and to do that I would need a new headshot (since my old one is truly old... like from 1992 old...). No time to pick a photographer and make an appointment etc. So I took a shitload of pictures and hoped one would come out reasonably good enough to use. Want to see some?

Oh twist my arm!

These were the top choices (in my opinion any way).

So I sent them to Phil and asked his opinion. He sees a lot of these and I trust his choice. I also badgered him with my resume which he was kind enough to go over not once but 3 times finding errors every time. I'm not a good proofreader when I'm ascairt.

He chose this one. And while it was not my favorite. because I like the ones that are blurry and make me look prettier, I know that his was the best choice for its intended use.

Then he did something that really proves, yet again, that I am surrounded by only the very best people.

He fixed the photo for me.

Essentially made it look like I had put on some foundation (God forbid I should actually PUT the makeup on) and made my skin look awesome and tidied up my hair a little and put my name on it.... and really, did he have to do that? Of course not! But he volunteered his mad photoshop skilz and gave me back a photo that looks pretty damned professional. Now how did I rate such a friend? No clue. But I'm VERY happy I do. And now I have a headshot I'm not ashamed of any more (oy my old ones suck!)

This is it:
Still the same, just more polished. Shiny! Many, many Thanks Phil for being such a good friend.

And now I just have to get through the audition.

Hey. Friends can only do so much - the rest is up to me (and a large dose of Xanax!) But whatever comes of the audition (whether I do well or not, whether I get it or not) the important thing is the trying. And because I have such wonderful friends: I'm trying.

And THAT'S what's good about being alive.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

C'mon Lucky Bamboo! Mama needs new shoes...

Last year I bought some stalks of Lucky Bamboo at a street fair on Second Avenue. I was so thrilled with the idea of an unkillable plant that needed neither soil nor much light that I thought I might be able to keep this stuff alive in my not so plant-friendly apartment. Of the 5 stalks I bought, two died many months ago, one is making a game effort to join them, and two are doing fairly well.

this is some seriously dead 'lucky' bamboo right here

I have been trying to find more because even though I lost some, they do actually seem to be fairly hardy (they held out longer than plants usually do 'round here) and it's really nice to have some living greenery around. So when I realized there was a huge Second Avenue Street Fair going on today I was on a mission to find a good deal on the Lucky Bamboo.

In the morning I met my friend Lori at the gym to share the pain and oddly exhilarating compulsion to do cardio whilst laughing and chatting at inappropriately loud volumes. (Hey, it keeps annoying people away from the elliptical machines - really, try it!) And after some lunch and a shower I hit the street fair, determined to find the bamboo (and some socks - this running is ruining my socks big time). Last year the vendor I bought from was stationed conveniently on my corner - and that's where they were today as well. But the prices were not as good as last year so, ever the intrepid bargain hunter, I walked 10 blocks of street fair searching for bamboo. There wasn't any. Though I did find some socks... just as the rain began.

I was 10 blocks from home and it was raining. Did I mention I was wearing flip-flops? Oh yeah. And not the kind that work well at the beach or pool side. I was wearing fancy-schmancy SLIPPERY flip-flops. Not that I knew they were fancy-schmancy, nor slippery; but I found out. Just add water and these bad boys come to life.

I also discovered that I have a much longer stride than I would have imagined. I found this out because as I walked I found myself wearing only one flip-flop (or is one only a flip? Or a flop?). The damned things were as slick as Astroglide and my left foot just came swinging out and there I am one shoe on, one shoe off and I looked behind me to see the errant slippery flip sitting on the curb a good twenty feet behind me. Okay that's an exaggeration, but really I had to take two steps back to retrieve it - yet I had only taken one step forward when I lost the shoe. So either I have developed wildly long legs (I wish) OR the flip-flops were making a run for it. "Save yourself", yelled the right flip. "No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you," retorted the left flop as it scooted down Second Avenue doing it's best Daniel Day-Lewis impersonation.

Okay, maybe I just have a really long forward stride.

But it kept happening! I don't feel I'm bragging when I say that I have mastered various forms of footwear over the years and I would think I could keep a stinking low-rent sandal wannabe on my foot when I walk. Apparently I missed the class on keeping your thongs attached. That's what I get for being a compulsive truant. Stay in school kids, that's all I've got to say.

By the time I returned to the bamboo vendor there were only 3 stalks (of the less expensive size) available. They were priced at 3 for $5... I stood in the rain debating. The vendor rushed over, pulled the three last stragglers out of the plastic bucket they were soaking in and said: "Just take them, $4 - no arguing." Um... okay. His wife was sitting at the back of their stall laughing, "He knows how to force a sale, huh?" I said. She just laughed. I did too. Hey, I got the bamboo I wanted and on 'sale' so why not laugh?

After getting an opinion from the cunning salesman on why my previous stalks of death-defying bamboo had opted to walk into the light I waved good-bye and headed home. But what's this? The OTHER end of the street fair that I had not trekked in my trodden sliders. And there it was, an equal distance from home as the first vendor: you got it - ANOTHER bamboo vendor. *sigh*

I wandered far and wide, in the rain, fighting the fleeing shoes just to find that everything I wanted was right outside my own door. Does anybody feel like singing "Over the Rainbow" about now? Go ahead, I'll wait.

Pretty. You should record that.

Now back to me.

Since I'd gotten a deal on the other bamboo I thought I might go for a few more stalks and increase the odds of having more survive until the next street fair rolls into this neck of the woods. This vendor was not as friendly, but had far more options. I got 4 more stalks for $5 and figured I'd better quit there.
So here are all the newbies hanging together while I decide what Feng Shui corners most need their bamboo-y luckiness. They are pretty. Hopefully they'll live. And hopefully I'll find a less slippery pair of flip-flops very, very soon. Hey, lucky bamboo, right?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

la la la I should be doing other things...

I do get so creative when I'm procrastinatin'!

Here is my very first home-made Miso Soup. I have been indulging in the yumminess of soy products for well over two and a-half decades now. (Yes, I started in utero. Please.) I was a vegetarian for many years, ya gots ta love the soy. Of course, I have made miso soup at home many times - instant... freeze-dried. Not the best. THIS is my first little baby bowl of miso soup from scratch! I'm so very proud. I'm also happy a picture came out when the miso was separating, because I love how that looks, all flowery and delicate. Sort of like the soup itself. Okay, not the flowery part. But delicate for sure. I cannot imagine why I've never done this before. It was crazy easy! Silly Joy.

Sillier still is the fact that I'm at the gym for two hours today making madness with the cardio machines, then going for another walk (for a scant mile - just to buy an apple, see I always need a destination even when I'm hyper), then cooking, then watching the so-so Omen remake (I like the original, but in my book Liev Schrieber... too delish to pass up and way hotter than Gregory Peck any day) when what I need to be doing is working on that play I'm supposedly writing! AHHHH procrastination is mah bestest friend. (sorry Gary).

Hmmmmm. I wonder if I should rearrange the kitchen cabinets now?

Come into the confessional... chick flicks redux

I am obviously going through a wacky time. I'm going to admit to something that embarrasses me. Quite a lot. Especially given my VERY recent rail against chick flicks. Oh God.... This is really, REALLY a guilty pleasure. Here goes.

I love Music & Lyrics.

Okay. I said it. It's out there. I'm doomed. But I'm standing by this one. Doomed or not.

To my defense I have to say I only rented this because Drew Barrymore is in it and I have no guilt about thinking that she is the most adorable thing going. I just adore her (look, who doesn't have a Poison Ivy in their past?). There's a woman who's been through some shit - and look how sweet and SMART she's turned out! Talk about inspirational. Plus she's really under appreciated as an actress (she's also a very smart producer) - but maybe when she hits 40 the Oscars will come a-callin'. That's why I rented Music & Lyrics - for Drew. Because she always makes me smile.

What I didn't expect was to fall head over heels for the whole movie.


Yes. No one is more frightened and amused by this than me. But I know why I find it so appealing. Collaboration. Yup. That's it.

I have this thing about couples who work together creatively. I just think there's nothing more romantic and fulfilling. (My own attempt at this sort of thing was a terrible disaster, but that was because I chose to fall for a sociopath. Smart, that's me.) I'm sure it has much to do with my parents doing NOTHING together... except drinking and fighting. And I was raised on Lucy & Desi... Stiller & Meara... Louis & Keely... John & Yoko... even Nichols & May...

Anyway, I have had this movie playing in the background for days. Joy, this is not Die Hard, this is not Serenity, this is not Horror Hotel... this is NOT the type of movie you watch endlessly. (Despite my enduring love of Moonstruck.) And yet, I can't seem to get enough of it.

So mere days after my "I hate chick flicks" spiel the fates conspire to make me eat crow. Which is not on my vegan plan. But there it is. Yum.

Ah well. Admitting the problem is half the battle, isn't it?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hello June

Today is the first day of this ScriptFrenzy thing I've signed up for. Oh sure I didn't finish the NaNoWrimo in November (though I did do it in 2004) but I'm not letting that deter me! I've been knocking this idea for a stage play around in my hollow little head for years. I did research years ago and then never quite got around to actually writing the thing. Maybe the incentive of 'do it in a month' will get it done. Maybe not. Either way, I figure, give it a shot.

The goal of this thing is to write 667 words a day - which should leave you at 20,000 words by midnight on June 30th. So far I have 738. So I have a teeeeny little cushion! And I absolutely need it. Part of my procrastination on this project today was to spend more than an hour doing cardio at the gym (way too hot to walk outside today). There's no reason procrastination has to be a bad thing. Of course when you have 42 irons in the fire everything you do winds up being a procrastination of something else. There's really no way around it. There are things you want to get done, or have to get done so doing those things means something else is not getting done. It's all so confusing! *sigh* Just put me in a fluffy white bunny suit and give me a pocket watch. Though it's a mite hot for a metaphor like that today. 10PM and it's 84 degrees. I know, suddenly I'm a white rabbit giving weather updates. I think that's my cue to try to sleep.



Last night (when it was a mere 90 degrees) true to my contrary ways, I decided to make a casserole. Yeah. In the oven. Baking. 350 for 45 minutes. Sweeeeet.I made the fabulous Paradise Casserole which is one of the trademark dishes of The Candle Cafe. Got the cookbook from the library (you can see the recipe here). I do so love the library. And I was shocked that they'd put the recipe for this amazing dish in the book. But there it was: and I had to make it. It's basically a layer of millet, a layer of black beans all topped with a sweet potato top. Yum? Oh yes. It came out okay for a first try - not quite as fantastic as it is when someone else cooks it for you, and they serve it over steamed greens with a mushroom gravy. I did not make the mushroom gravy. But here it is with some sauteed spinach. [special thanks to my friend Nancy for the fabulous 'jalapeño' plates!] But still not bad for a first go. There are left-overs for days (it's a big casserole) so I'm happy.
A little dazed, hot, wired and sleepy, but happy.