Monday, July 30, 2007

Harry Potter and the Impenetrable Allegory

***Spoiler alert: No plot spoilers, I think, but if you do not want to know how I feel about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, stop reading now.***

I overheard John on the phone last night, telling a friend I was "a little disappointed" with the last Harry Potter book. I've been trying to write a post that will express the complexity of what I really feel, without giving away plot details, for friends who haven't finished (or started). In three points:

1. The female characters are a real letdown. I'm not giving anything away to say that a few of the wobblier wizards (Ron, Neville) really come into their own, while the most promising young witches (Hermione, Ginny) aren't exactly transformed in the crucible of battle. And for a fantasy set in a world of infinite possibility, the future of magical women as laid out in Rowling's epilogue is pretty conventional.

2. The magic is too complicated! In the early books, it was organic, and fun, and, heck, magical. The reader learned the intricacies and limitations and dangers of the spells, curses and magical objects of the wizarding world along with the characters. It made sense. It makes a different sort of sense, sadly, that when Rowling is left with no choice but to locate the detailed explanation of the magic at work in Deathly Hallows in the most stripped-down setting imaginable. Even more sadly, the nonsense of the magic masks the compelling and nuanced personal motives that have been driving the story all along.

3. The writing is not up to the standards of a young adult classic. It's thick and slow and there is too much of it. The dialogue is plodding and repetitive. Show, don't tell, remember?

We saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on Sunday afternoon. What a visual delight! (So very much broken glass!) When it's time to film Number 7, I hope the text will receive a similar efficient trimming.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

On a whym

On Thursday, M and I had a great salad for lunch at Whym on 9th Avenue. It was the TBA salad, the daily special, and Thursday it was curry chicken.

So good.

Last night I recreated it for myself for dinner, and if you want to recreate it for yourself, gather these ingredients in quantities appropriate to your taste and the number of people you are feeding.

golden raisins
canned chick peas
shredded cooked chicken
curry paste
sliced pickled jalapenos
mandarin orange slices
rough chopped Napa cabbage
creamy salad dressing

In a skillet over medium heat, combine the raisins and a little water; this will soften things up. Add the curry paste and some chick peas; this will soften things up some more and let the curry flavor really get into everything. Add the chicken, especially if it is coming cold and stiff from the fridge. Turn the heat off once the water has cooked off.

You can let the mixture cool or not, but when you are ready to eat, add the cabbage, jalapenos, mandarin oranges, and dressing to the skillet. Toss and divide into bowls.

I made it just for myself, because John ordered from Lucky Burger last night, thus the ketchup packet in the background.


Silly me: I forgot that I was in the process of putting the gazpacho in the refrigerator when I dropped it. Then I closed the door to clean up the mess. And apparently did not look down again, though I opened the refrigerator several times that night.

In the morning, a dried tomato puree mess was waiting for me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 25 post, as neccessitated by events which transpired this evening

If this post had a real title, it would be "Things to be thankful for."

That the test went well, even if I didn't get to register today.

That I ran into my friend Nicole, who is also considering a future in art conservation.

That Hunter has not (as far as I know) inexplicably changed my first name to "" on its records (poor Nicole!).

That I can count on the dosa man in Washington Square Park to brighten my day with his amazing toothy smile and soul-warming food. That coconut chutney!

That although Victoria's Secret decided to discontinue the one bra that fits me correctly and comes in cute colors (Body by Victoria Unlined Full Coverage), I can still find a handful of decent bras at Macy's, even if I have to try on sixty or seventy to separate the wheat from the chaff.

That, test behind me, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is waiting on the coffee table for me as soon as I finish this post.

And last, but by no means least...

That the gallon of gazpacho was in a plastic container and not a glass one, and that I've gotten over feeling guilty about using paper towels, and that most of it did not splatter under the refrigerator.

Now you get to be thankful that I didn't snap a picture of that gallon of gazpacho all over the floor of my tiny kitchen. It totally looked like the barf we see all over NYC sidewalks on Saturday mornings.

July 25 post, as composed in my head this afternoon

This post was going to be titled "Victory," but since today is getting two posts, well...

This post is to commemorate my victory over plastic bags. I'm not talking about grocery bags, though I refuse those as often as I can. I'm talking about the zip-top kind, and by "victory over" I mean "joyful use of."

When I was growing up, zip-top bags (and paper towels) were treated like endangered species. Or semi-precious stones. Or some other more appropriate simile to imply that they were something not to be wasted, and as a child I was not qualified to determine whether or not a situation warranted a zip-top bag or a paper towel. It's not as though I had a habit of wasting expensive (or inexpensive) household goods, but somehow I got the message that I shouldn't use them, that I wasn't worthy.

So, this morning, I caught myself feeling guilty when I reached for a bag for these lovely squishy plums. And it wasn't just any zip-top bag, it was one of those really expensive slide-top bags that I bought exclusively for use with carry-on toiletries. And I had to tell myself that it was okay, that I deserved to spend a dime on myself so that I could have a healthy snack after my test without getting plum guts all over my wallet. I fought through the guilt, and stuffed a paper towel in there for good measure. I feel silly writing this, but it's the little victories that change my life.

And the plums were delicious. I ate them in the shade of the Hunter West building, talking to my friend Nicole, after my test, which went just fine. I can't register until the scores are officially posted next week, but I'm psyched!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Post-lunch check-in post

Lunch today was gross. I won't bore you with the details, but I am trying to clear out the pantry and some combinations just don't work.

Today looks nice and sunny. I'll find out how it is out there in a minute when I run down to the library to pick up a book on gem-cutting I requested a couple months ago. I'm not planning to start cutting gems. I have been thinking about building large models out of cardboard, though, and doing some paintings using the diagrams. We'll see. Also picking up a DVD of The Corner, an HBO mini-series by the team behind The Wire. (We love The Wire and are in withdrawal as we await the release of Season 4 on DVD.)

I'll also pick up a string of garlic to roast, since all the other ingredients for gazpacho have been waiting in the fridge for a while.

None of this erranding got done yesterday because 1) it was my last big push of studying "new" material before the test tomorrow and 2) it rained all day. Not typical New York summer weather, but not incompatible with my plans for the day. It also made my memories of the weekend that much sweeter.

Saturday rocked. The whole day was planned out for the summer associates at John's firm, and it was one of a couple events each summer when significant others can tag along. I headed out early to do a bunch of errands before meeting everyone at the building on Fifth Avenue for a bus ride to Coney Island. On the way, we watched the appropriate segment of the Ken Burns Documentary about the history of New York City. We debused at the entrance to Astroland, and while everyone else got in line for the Cyclone, John and I headed over to Siren, the Village Voice's yearly indie music festival. The bus ride took a while and we thought we were going to miss the one band we most wanted to see, but there was just enough time to apply some sunscreen

before The Twilight Sad took the stage.

We got to hear their whole set, then ran down the boardwalk to Nathan's and scarfed a quick hot dog. We ran back up Surf Avenue, met up with the rest of the lawyers (all limbs accounted for post-roller coaster, but one cellphone lost) and headed to the New York Aquarium. We had a cocktail reception and a behind-the-scenes tour which ended with our own private sea lion feeding and training session. Meet the star of the show, Otis:

I have no idea how that picture happened, because he spent the rest of the time looking sweet and poised:

Everyone who wanted one got a kiss on the cheek from Otis. It wasn't at all what I expected. Not scratchy like a guy's beard, but soft like a smooch from a wet dog. And no smell, despite Otis having been downing raw fish for the previous fifteen minutes. Otis landed his kiss for John on his Ray-Bans. I wish I had a shot of that!

We relaxed for a bit longer at the aquarium, then headed down the boardwalk to KeySpan Park for a baseball game, the highlight of which was the distriubtion of Cyclone Cash: tokens worth twenty dollars of food, beverage or souveniers, change for which was given in US cash. I waited too long to get cotton candy (apparently not sold after the fifth inning) so I ended up with this little batting helmet full of a Dippin' Dots knock-off in "banana split":

No bueno, and three days later I'm still craving the pink stuff.

The game ended (mercifully) at about 9pm, with the Brooklyn Cyclones creaming the Tri-City Valley Cats. The Cats did finally score two runs in the top of the ninth, but it was no help against the eleven the 'Clones had brought in, seven in the sixth inning alone.

The firm had the car service dispatcher at the game to get us all home, and it was a smooth ride back to Manhattan, with a bit of snoozing in the car.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Lunch yesterday with M at Sarabeth's on the Upper East Side.

This photo is just for effect. I totally cleaned my plate.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Et où est l'art?

I've got a prize for anyone out there who can teach me a mnemonic for the six laws of logarithmic functions!

Just kidding: your stellar memory for Algebra II is undoubtedly its own reward.

In spite of covering logs (and natural logs and compounding interest), today felt like a bit of a waste, but that's nothing new, sadly. Let me reveal the most pertinent details of the plan, and maybe the prospect of a real adult life will seem more imminent.

I'm taking the math test next Wednesday. Really. I can't stand to have it hanging over my head any more. Assuming I score reasonably well, I will register for a section of Pre-Calculus and a section of Chemistry I, and labs for each. I've looked at the open sections for these and something seems hinky with the numbers, so I think trips to the departmental offices will be in order, which will be a pleasure, I'm sure.

I need to choose an Art History course for this semester, too, and almost everything is full. Greek Vase Painting? Usually I would snooze at the thought but there are some good reasons to take it. 1) I loved mythology as a kid, and gods and goddesses figure prominently in vase paintings. 2) The Met has such a phenomenal collection, I'm sure the class will be chock-full of required trips. Way cool. 3) Maybe someone can tell me why some of the writing appears to be backwards on these? Though it occurs to me that it could just be that my lecturers had their slides in backwards. It happens.

Speaking of art history, I made a little of my own today. Art, not history. Here's the start of a painting. I'm always torn when I make something like this, because I like working this way, but compared to my other, more precise work, it looks like I'm just messing around. In this case, well, I was.

And oui, mes amies, that is paint drying in the bristles of the brush in the background. Rest assured it is totally dry and glue-like. It has always been a wretched brush and now I have a reason to throw it away.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Où sont les crafts?

Et voila!

I made three of these in different colors for John and his friends Jim and Nikki. It's an inside joke, and this is the punchline.

Conic sections, anyone?

I thought I was all set to take my math placement test today, but this morning I ran into some sample questions that were heavy on the conic sections, logs and factorials. Bother. So it's back to the books for a few days for me, and since the test is only offered on Wednesdays, that's on hold for a week.

The photo is the diluted dregs of my iced coffee, in a plastic glass I inherited from my Grammer. I feel like she'd get a kick out of these glasses now residing in New York, since they lived for decades in Kansas City, MO, in the house my Grampa built at 3338 Bell. I'll have to ask my Mom about their history some day. I think they may have been in the kitchen since the beginning, because they matched the turquiose formica countertops, flecked with copper to match the hardware on the drawers and cabinets.

Monday, July 16, 2007

PdPd running into an ex

*This is meant to be the first of an ongoing series in which I explore those subjects which render me plein de panique de...

It would be a sin of omission to leave out what happened last Thursday night.

John was busy with a firm event at P.S. 1, lucky dog, but it meant he couldn't accompany me to see Maximo Park at Webster Hall. So I took M, who needed a night out anyway. The Marchviolet had already clued me in to expect a stellar Stone Roses cover from Monsters Are Waiting, and fortunately we got there just in time. We got drinks, boogied to the rest of the set, then headed back to the bar. We are not lushes, we just wanted to snag another round before MP hit the stage, and M needed to close her tab.

Suddenly, in a scene that I SWEAR TO GOD LITERALLY NEVER HAPPENS IN THIS CITY, I heard my name and felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to face an ex. Not just any ex, this is really The Ex. And his wife, a lovely woman I barely ever knew.

And he's not just my ex, he's M's ex. He's Our Mutual Ex. Because he was our Current. At the same time. Simultaneously.


But I'm smiling as I write this because you should have seen the look on his face when I pulled M over to say hello.

After I regained the ability to speak, we had the usual catch-up chat. Later, M and I regretted not having been "mean" to him, but I'm not sure how that would have manifested, except to press him to clear up some of the timeline of that whole fiasco. Double grrr...

I'm not generally one to romanticize my youth anyway, but now that I'm looking back at thirty it is nice to have the occasional reminder of how very much better things are now than they were then. And not just for me, but for everyone involved. As Paul Smith of MP would say, the coast is always changing. Thank goodness.

Disappointment, and its opposite

John and I had a great meal on Saturday at Chola. We had considered going back to Amma (the bhindi is awesome) but when John told me that Chola billed itself as Martha Stewart's favorite Indian restaurant, it was decided.

It was our second night in a row of Indian. I had a couple appointments Friday, and when I finally got a chance to eat lunch, I was craving Indian. Still, Indian is dinner food to me, so I called John and we made plans to do Indian later.

Now, the Indian in our neighborhood is okay, but the atmosphere of the restaurants is lacking (not just Indian, but a lot of the restaurants on 9th Avenue) so we decided to order in and watch a movie. We opted for Baluchi's, a New York chain, and ordered from the outpost on 56th Street, where we have eaten before. Our expectations weren't particularly high, but we thought we knew what to expect.

I am no connoisseur of Indian cuisine, but I know this much: chicken korma does not have canned fruit salad in it. No mushy bits of pear or faded maraschino cherries. Are you kidding me? John did okay with his lamb vindaloo; he expects heat, and that's what he always gets. We didn't have high expectations for the movie either (Reno 911), but we fared better on that account.

So lounging around Saturday morning, considering dinner options on OpenTable, I was glad that John did not object to our trying to get the Indian food "right." We did, in spades. Chola has its own great bhindi, and John had a lamb phaal that knocked his sweat-soaked socks off. My chicken korma was just right: nutty with roasted cashews and sweet with golden sultanas. Across the small room from us, a dozen twenty-something Indian-Americans celebrated one friend's birthday and admired another's nifty new iPhone, bubbly and joyous in way that isn't often publicly displayed in New York. Expectations exceeded.

We talked about expectations while we ate. And productivity, success, distractions. It's not as though I ever forget why I married John, but I am always happy to be reminded that such a resource is close at hand. For the most part, he doesn't waste energy on things that 1) aren't his business or 2) are out of his control. I used to think he was oblivious, as we walked down the street and he failed to notice the offenses to etiquette all around us. It turns out he's just focused on the the things that matter.

Yesterday was weird on the expectation front as well. I lit out early to attend a workshop at the Center for Book Arts. My four classmates and I waited an hour before word came through that the instructor had been told the class was cancelled. (The students had most definitely not been told.) In the interim, I got to talking with another young woman. She graduated from the same undergraduate program that I did, and is preparing for the same extremely competitive graduate work. Small world. One might say, mind-numbingly so. Claustrophobic, even.

What is the opposite of disappointment? I thought about it as I warmed up some leftover chicken korma (the good one) last night. Whatever its opposite is, that is what I have felt missing from my life lately, for the past few years, and that is what I want to pursue. My first thought was satisfaction. But satisfaction, like disappointment, is an "after," and the opposite of an "after" should be a "before".

My thesaurus lists hope as an antonym for disappointment. I bristled when I read it. My problem with hope has always been the way that it flies in the face of experience. If it is the antidote to disappointment, I don't expect it works alone. To be effective, it requires that focus John is so good at, and patience, which he is not bad at either.

I'm thinking about my graduate school plans. I made up a semester-by-semester chart. It looks so daunting. One to two years of preparation before applying: chemistry, more art history, French, German, the GRE, internships, self-study. The slim chances of earning one of eight positions. Four expensive years of study before facing the narrow odds of finding a job in a rarefied field.

I'm pulling the chart out of my desk drawer, and a magenta Sharpie. Across the top I'm writing: HOPE - PATIENCE - FOCUS.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Look what John brought home...

Local counsel for one of his cases sent two big crates to the team in his office, which John estimated contained at least seventy peaches. He brought home six. One went back to the office with him this morning, and I just polished one off while trying to figure out how to link to a flickr photo. These are quite literally the fruits of my labor.

In spite of its oppressive humidity, yesterday was a good one. I finished up one Algebra book (the stinky cigarette smoke one -- thank goodness I don't have to go near that again) and, after a bite at Le Pain Quotidien, spent the afternoon running errands with M. We even made it to the Kwik-E Mart and I will henceforth be drinking my iced coffee from a Squishee cup bearing the likeness of Lisa Simpson.

Today is off to a slow start. Laundry is sorted but not started. Graphs of relations and functions loom manacingly on the horizon. The treadmill must be appeased. Better get to it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ga ga ga ga ga

No, I didn't have a stroke over John's new guacamole obsession or synthetic division. That's the title of the new Spoon record.

John came home last night with four new cds: the aforementioned Spoon, a long-awaited Interpol, Mark Ronson and Ryan Adams.

After scarfing down some left-over pad thai (the TJ's mix is not half bad, but you have to bulk it up with carrot, red bell pepper, napa cabbage and cilantro) we listened to music and played Scrabble, pretending we are sophisticated grown-up New Yorkers and not transplanted cable-guzzling adolescents.

Well, to be honest, the tv was on, but it was just the All-Star game, and the sound was off. Besides, you have to have something to do whilst waiting your turn. I was embroidering a bicycle on a politically incorrect t-shirt to send to one of John's oldest friends, Nikki. John does not embroider.

This is the part of the post where you start looking for a review of the records.


No, that's a bit harsh. They are all lovely. Nothing stands out yet, but this does not surprise me. I'll take them in the order in which we listened to them.

Interpol, Our Love to Admire
John got the special, limited edition, black-on-black embossed-paper version of the packaging and it's almost too pretty to listen to, just the way the perfect eggs florentine at Tartine defy you to actually eat them. (There's a luxe poster included, too.) (With the cd, not the eggs florentine.) I lied when I said nothing stands out, because I'm still swaying to the first song, Pioneer to the Falls. It's got a weird sexy exotic beat. Don't know how else to put it. The problem with a new Interpol record is that I greet it knowing it will never hit me with the same punch to the gut that Turn on the Bright Lights did, way back on an icy Austin night (yes, icy) when we risked life and limb to get to Emo's in spite of warnings to stay off the roads, because we had called and the message on their machine pretty much called us sissies if we were going to let a little sleet keep us from such a great band. It was worth every white knuckled minute on Red River. But back to the new record: it sounds like the first two records, which is good, because we have a fondness for those records here at the casa.

Spoon, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
This comes in a deluxe edition, too, so make sure you pick up one with the bonus disc. Then see if you can figure out where they have hidden that bonus disc. Does this cd unlock a door to another dimension? No, I won't spoil it for you. Suffice to say, it took longer than it should have for us to, um, locate the extra tracks. Like the Interpol record, it sounds a lot like other Spoon records, and we like the other records. A few of these tracks have been available on the interweb for a while, and we'd heard others when we saw the boys back in April. Like the Interpol, it's going to take a few listens before anything lodges itself in my head.

Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger
My favorite record of the evening: it totally got me shaking my rear end as I putzed in the kitchen. John was shaking his head in disappointment, but I like the clean and sober iteration of Mr. Adams. And that there is a song called Halloweenhead. And that there was a song that reminded me of America's Ventura Highway. Yay!

Mark Ronson, Version
I had heard the Stop Me cover in Forever 21 (blame it on the Black Apple) and it's so yummy that I got my hopes up for the album. And it's good. The Toxic cover alone is worth the price of admission; why didn't Britney think to drop the n-bomb in the original cut? I will say, though, that there was NO REASON to DO THAT to Maximo Park's Apply Some Pressure. Just saying.

Okay, so I guess a few things did stand out.

Who said I lied because I never, I never...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Not telling

Um, by the way, why are you factoring polynomials?

It's a secret.

A mad-scientist-planning-to-take-over-the-world secret?

No, a going-back-to-grad-school-need-three-semesters-of-chemistry-and-the-first-chemistry-course-has-a-pre-calculus-co-requisite-and-you-have-to-take-a-placement-test-to-get-in-the-pre-calculus-class secret.



Watcha up to, Bee?

Nothin' much. Takin' a wee break from factoring polynomials. Thought I'd finally start this blog.

On a Tuesday afternoon?

I've been mentally composing this post since Saturday.

What happened Saturday?

John and I saw the Richard Serra show at MoMA.

Nice. Anything else?

Bought a new hair turban, since my old one had gotten smelly.


Oh, and my world changed forever.

In what sense?

Let's just say, it's momentous.

Little bundle of joy momentous?

GUACAMOLE momentous.


John decided he eats guacamole. After nearly seven years together. After almost four years of marriage. After close to four years in New York, far removed from any really really good guacamole and its luscious companion, queso.

We stopped at Chipotle on our way to MoMA, and as we stood at the cashier, preparing to fork over more than $20 for a fast-food brunch, I spotaneously blurted out a request for the modestly-priced tub-o-guac. I'd had it once with M on the occasion of her introduction to Chipotle, but never since. The "entree" is always enough for me, no sides needed. But it was a gorgeous day, and gorgeous days still mean margaritas on the "new" deck at the just-north-of-campus Trudy's, and since that isn't happening anytime soon, I indulged my inner Austinite. Guacamole...

We found ourselves a stainless steel booth in the nearly-empty seating area and got down to business with the salty-limey chips John ordered: John dunking in salsa, yours truly scooping up creamy green goodness. Even though I love guacamole, I don't indulge often, because I don't like eating a whole serving by myself.

That's right: for the entirety of our life together, John has been anti-guacamole. He has even claimed to be "allergic" to avocados. He will go so far as to request it be left off a dish, so he does not have to look at it and so that it does not "contaminate" (his words, not mine) other elements of the meal.

So what am I to think when after a few chips, John busts out with:

"I think I may be ready to give guacamole another chance."

And just like that, he did. And then he proceeded to eat half my tub-o-guac.

And he ate some more on Sunday, when he stopped at Chipotle to pick up lunch on his way to the office. And he chased the silky green dragon again last night when he worked late and ordered in from another area burrito joint.

Do you think maybe he's seeing another woman? A woman who has introduced him to new and exotic pleasures? A woman named Rosa or Carmen, with long dark hair and her own personal molcajete?


Look it up!

Um, Bee... Will all of your posts be in pretend dialogue format? And about guacamole?

Oh, let's hope not.