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Living here

Monday, January 25th, 2010

The Colorado air is dry.

This parched feeling is all-pervasive, making itself known in every part of my body.  My skin is the Sahara, my eyeballs, sandpaper.  I smile, and my bottom lip splits like the back of Chris Farley’s coat.  My hands are cracking, my cuticles flaking.  I cannot drink enough water.

Short from slathering myself with lard, there’s not much I can do about it.  Still, I will take dry over humid any day.

Denver is incredibly sunny – over 300 days a year of sunshine.  Right now, even though it’s 16 degrees outside, the light is intense.  Seattle being my one true love, this brightness is an adjustment for me.   My eyes are wimpy and require sunglasses basically all the time.  I’m wearing sunscreen like it’s my job; being a mile closer to the sun than I was before, I walk down the block and come back pink.  I need to get a hat – I’m sensitive, folks.  Even my lips are freckled.

I am suspicious that every person I see out and about is an Olympic athlete.  Denver is a ridiculously active city – even more than Seattle, it seems.  Everyone looks young and healthy and fit and strong.

And having run 7.6 miles at a Mile High altitude yesterday morning, I dare say that I fit right in.

Speaking of health, on Friday night, I got a bee in my bonnet.  And after a 2-hour wait at the very fabulous Root Down, I GOT MY BEET SALAD THANKYOUVERYMUCH.

beets

It was not nearly as good as Fuel‘s.  But the cheese plate and wine made up for it.

So… scratch that thing I said about “health.”

Themeless thoughts

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I love beets.  I really, truly love them.  If I see them on a menu, I will choose beets over almost anything else.

My least favorite color is blue.  I don’t hate it, I would just never pick it for anything.  If I were the captain of a kickball team, I would choose red first, and then green like my new curtains, and then maybe teal.  Yellow would be one of my last choices.  But not as last as blue.  Blue would be the last one standing.

My left ring toe – the one next to the pinky toe – is broken.  Or something.  I have a tendency to overreact to physical ailments, so it’s hard to tell – but something is definitely wrong with it.  All of a sudden, it’s gigantic – Elmer Fudd might as well have dropped an anvil on his foot.  The weird thing is that it doesn’t really hurt – but it’s swollen and purple.  I still ran for 40 minutes last night, though.  That probably didn’t help.

When I run, I listen to what I have been told is the “worst running music ever” – mid-90’s country.  I can’t help it.  The songs are so good.  In the 90’s, Nashville still operated by the principle of “the best song wins” – before it became so politicized and exclusive.  So last night, I was all, “Trisha Yearwood?  Patty Loveless?  Blackhawk?  YES PLEASE.”

These days, at least there’s Lori McKenna.

For as stilted and exhausting as it can be to move to a new city, I am reminded of something that I felt a lot of when I first moved to Nashville: potential.  The first days in a new place have a lonely sweetness to them – quiet possibility.  Each person that I meet might wind up being my friend.  Each road I drive down might lead to a surprise.

So.  Denver, ho.

I just wanted to tell you all of these things today.

Late Wednesday

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Well, well.  You people sure love your grilled cheese.

Thanks for all of the suggestions – I can’t wait to try them!

Now… any chance you have ideas for oatmeal?  My requirements: not from a packet, low in sugar, tastes good.  Anyone?

– – – – – – – –

A quick update on the reading front:

I finally, FINALLY finished “Eclipse.”  It was 620 unremarkable pages, with about 9 good ones toward the end.

Then, I read Don Miller’s “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” in two days.  It was fantastic, and inspiring, and made me want to cry and choose differently and live a good story; incidentally, Abby on “The Biggest Loser” has the same affect on me (who is with me on this??).

Now, I am reading “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” which I received as a gift for my birthday back in August.  This past summer, I saw previews for the movie and my heart stopped in my chest – boom: arrested.  But I did not see the movie because I wanted to read the book first.  I always like to read the book first – it stretches my mind more, and gives me the freedom to create the images of scenes in my own imagination.  So, currently, I am having my heart stopped by sentences instead of visuals – although I fully intend on seeing the movie later.

– – – – – – – –

Southwest is having a mega-sale on fares right now.  Too bad that none of the dates are when I need tickets – because I could stand to get some good deals.  Something is not right when I live in Nashville working all week long just to spend every penny on tickets away.

Steered in a positive direction

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

For as much as I love cheese – which, trust me, my devotion is infinite and everlasting – I rarely eat grilled cheese.  Chalk it up to just another childhood overdose – I never eat peanut butter & jelly, either.  Grilled cheese lost its appeal before Clinton took office.

Which is why it was shocking that yesterday, I had the chance to eat a grilled cheese for lunch – and I jumped at it.  Like, I literally sprung out of my chair and made a beeline for the kitchen.  See, my co-worker Delaney is a dazzling maker-of-all-foods, and she brought a griddle!  To work!  To make grilled cheeses!  And if this woman makes something, it is a guaran-freaking-tee that I will love it.

I’m serious.  Remember how Ritz Cracker Cheese Sandwiches are my secret shame?  Delaney has actually taken these bite-sized wonders and made them into a gourmet snack.  She shakes some sort of herby goodness all over them, and I swear, they could be served to the Queen of England.

After experiencing this woman’s brilliance yesterday, I can positively say that I am back in the saddle when it comes to grilled cheese.  She has renewed my hope, my faith, my confidence in the sandwich.  Thank you, Delaney, for pointing me toward the truth.

Now, to make my own.  I’m looking for grilled cheese tips, if anyone has any…

Taking up arms

Sunday, July 5th, 2009

The cruise ship is a battle zone, and I am at war.

I refuse to gain a pound a day.

But this is proving to take some serious combat.

I wake up each morning and put on my armor: a reasonable breakfast of one egg over easy, a small bowl of cereal, and an Americano.  But after that, it is clear to me that the ms Zaandam wants me guillotined.

Their battle cry:
Free food! All day!
Stuff yourself at the buffet!

Over and over.  And over.  And starts again at 11pm.

I am notoriously thrifty, hate to waste anything, and to hear that something is free makes me want to take full advantage.  You mean to tell me that I can order three appetizers, an entrée, AND dessert?  Get down on it, mama.

Thankfully, there is a gym at the front of the ship, and I’ve been running off 19,000 calories every day.  I have also taken on the identity of Elevator Hater, and walk the 8 flights of stairs at least 12 times each day.  In heels.

This is my martyrdom.  Because if you haven’t gorged yourself on mussels, bread, scallops, cheese trays, salmon, filet mignon, cookies, papaya, guacamole, pasta, and hot fudge brownie sundaes, washed it all down with wine and mojitos and margaritas, and then navigated 8 flights of stairs on a swaying ship in a cocktail dress and heels, then I’m sorry, my friend.

You do not know sacrifice.

Feeling like a simile

Friday, May 8th, 2009

Last night’s catfish and collard greens isn’t sitting so well.  Since when have I been an eater of collard greens?  Sheesh.  I don’t know.  It strikes me as odd that I would willingly order something that people would only eat if rummaging for food in the forest.  It’s practically chard.

And yet, last night, it sounded so good.

I woke up this morning at the crack of dawn – although I’m not sure that it counts as the “crack” if the sun hasn’t come up yet.  After driving Mel to the airport in an outrageous thunderstorm, I hydroplaned home, used Julie’s expired inhaler, and crawled back into bed.

Bad idea.

Now, several hours later, I can barely type.  Albuterol does it to me; I am shaking like… a leaf?

Oooooh, it makes me so sad that I didn’t come up with a better simile.

Which reminds me of a fantastic list of similes, metaphors, and analogies I once saw – found in high school essays, submitted by English teachers across the country, and compiled into one glorious list.  They’re the best of the worst, and the worst of the best.  Here they are:

– – – – – – – –

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

She had a deep, throaty genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup.

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

John and Mary  had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

– – – – – – – –

And just because it is fabulously senseless, here’s one of my favorite similes, brought to you by Patrick Swayze:

“She’s like the wind, through my tree.”

Pumpkin Fail

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

My friend Carly has a fabulous food blog aptly titled Fabulously Classic. She is my dream wife, coming up with all sorts of delicious concoctions to feed her husband Ben. Recently, she posted a recipe for pumpkin bars, and since it’s fall and I have A NEW MIXER, I thought I would bake a batch for my friendliest neighbors: the ex-cons across the street.

Except I didn’t follow the instructions. Carly said “jelly roll pan.” I took that to mean “any pan that I want.” Bad decision.

The pumpkin batter in my pan wound up being FAR too deep to bake all the way through, so in the end, I was presented with a “crispy around the edges” and yet “completely unbaked wad of dough in the middle” cake. I pulled it out and looked at it, flabbergasted, trying to scientifically deduce what I had done wrong. I’ve decided that a good law to live by should be, “Never do what your brain thinks will be okay.” That rule of thumb would have saved me from several speeding tickets, an ill-fated decision to pass up Dramamine, and $400 at a date auction in 2001.

However, never one to waste anything – especially sugar and lard – I waited for the cake to cool and then revisited it. I decided that there were salvageable pieces around the edges, so I took a knife to the whole, and wound up with 3 platefuls of mini-squares of perfectly good cake. Today, I will frost them individually, and bring them to my favorite former prisoners.

But I still have the mush from the middle – a doughy lump of ugly-yet-probably-delicious cake. And call me crazy, but I’m thinking… breakfast for 2 weeks.

Freedom and balance

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

I was in the dairy section of the grocery store last night when a crisis hit me like a rake to the face. Reaching for my usual quart of Dannon Light & Fit vanilla yogurt, I noticed three terrible words: “Great New Taste!”

What.

Why do they need to go changing my favorite yogurt? I don’t need it to have a “great new taste” – I loved the old taste. And! AND! What’s worse: it has increased from 80 calories per serving to 110 calories per serving. I DO NOT LIKE THIS. This is almost as bad as the day that they started packaging Tampax in bright orange wrappers – an absolute betrayal. How is one expected to be inconspicuous with something orange – the color of panic devices, like flares and Coast Guard buoys and the terrorist attack level “High”?

It’s not quite as bad as the day I found out that they no longer produce Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer in “Coffee”. But still. Completely unjust.

I come from a long line of calorie counters – it’s in my genes. At various points in my life, I have been absolutely ruled by the regimented balancing act of caloric consumption/expulsion. Last summer, I achieved what should have been a dieter’s nirvana, reaching the lowest weight of my life and fitting into the tiniest pants I’ve ever owned; however, I still felt a panic and a desperate need for control. I still saw my pipe-cleaner arms to be flabby, my thighs to be trunk-like, and my flat stomach to be completely unworthy of a bathing suit.

I couldn’t relish the accomplishment of it all. I was too busy worrying about gaining an ounce.

Since then, I have considerably loosened my tight rein on calorie counting. While my mind feels a little bit freer, my body is also a little bit heavier. What’s a girl to do?

I want to live in freedom from the oppression of low self-esteem, terrible body image, calorie counting, exercise obsession, and general control freakage. I’m not there yet. But I want to be. And for me, I think that “freedom” is going to have to mean weighing a few pounds more than I know that I could weigh. It’s going to mean not beating myself up over my caloric failures of the day when I crawl into bed at night. It’s going to mean recognizing and living out a healthy balance of enjoying food, and being active, and getting enough sleep, and having a glass of wine if I want one, but not having too many.

It’s going to mean eating the extra 30 calories of yogurt. And it’s going to mean not flipping out about it.

Current conversation in my mouth

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Chocolate: “I love you.”

Peanut Butter: “I love you back.”

Y’all come back now, you hear?

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Be sure to check back later today for a very special surprise. I’m serious.

But before your mind goes all haywire, know that the surprise is none of the following:
1) An engagement ring.
2) An ultrasound photo.
3) Anything related to “Lost.” I haven’t watched yet. DONOTTELLMEANYTHING!!!!!

In the meantime, to sustain your minds and hearts, here is something that I learned yesterday and tried last night with the fabulous Mary Hiemstra, visiting from Seattle:

Purée a can of black beans (rinse them first, then refill the can with the beans and water to the top), add a brownie mix and some coffee grounds, and bake. The world’s greatest tasting brownies ever. High fiber, high protein, low fat. No bean-taste at all. Try it – you will not be sorry.