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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Skeleton Woman - The Life/Death/Life Nature

I didn't give Clarissa Pinkola Estes' book Women Who Run with the Wolves too much credit at first, but after revisiting it I discovered a lot of insight consisting of deep, eloquent analyses of cross-cultural myths, which is particularly beneficial for anyone trying to reconnect with their "wildish nature". One of the myths I found inspiring can be read at Spiritual Emergency. I also just read and enjoyed the Magyar version of "The Ugly Duckling" and was pleased that her take on the tale went beyond beauty and the usual markers of acceptance. Instead, she involves cultural factors (pressures to conform to family values and expectations), maternal relationships and a wide range of circumstances that can freeze feelings and creativity.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Oil Vey!

If these photos don't break your heart and make you re-examine the way the environment is being neglected, even for three seconds, then there maaaaay be more toxins in your heart than in the Gulf! I'd like to direct your attention to a previous post of mine from May 4th.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

1997 Talent Show

For a lady who claims to dislike house dance music, it's interesting to note that this is what Best and I danced to at our 7th or 8th grade talent show. Looking back, we were actually quite subversive for Catholic school students, and couldn't have chosen the furthest thing from a mainstream song to perform. I remember several details about this peculiar performance.

They didn't fade the music out the way I had planned toward the end of our show, rather it came to an abrupt stop. Needless to say, we weren't pleased. Our outfits consisted of the same thing we wore to the Magic Mountain class trip- Forever 21 tank tops with stripes across the bust, baggy jeans and shell toe Adidas. We included some of the announcer intro into the dance because we felt it created a nice build up effect. I could be completely lying though because I also remember vividly wanting to begin right before "Stand up put your hands to the skyyyyy..." Maybe that never happened.

It was between that song or Notorious B.I.G.'s "Hypnotize" which we thought was too "expected". Although when we got up there no one, including us, really knew what was going on. Upon finding it on YouTube about 13, 14 years later, yesterday, I couldn't stop giggling with disbelief. One week of recess, lunch and secret after school practices so that I could shake my head at the past with uncontrollable laughter today.

Soundtrack for May 26

Exile - I Wanna Kiss You All Over (1978)
Poor sound quality, but otherwise perfect.



Exile - Never Gonna Stop (1978)
I'm quite the Exile fan this week.
The beginning reminds me of the Nas song "Street Dreams".

Ambivalent Letter to Summertime

Hello, Summertime,

I don't think I've ever been more ready and more sad for you. On a brighter note, I decided to be 5'9 for you this year thanks to my comfortable 3" espadrilles. Being 3" taller than normal during the day makes one exude both a strange confidence and a clumsy discomfort, but I guess it beats wearing flip flops all the time.

Go easy on me this year. Let's try and squeeze in a good getaway and please help me find great espadrilles in black.

With big shorts and chicken legs,

P.S. If anyone reading has an unwanted pair of the pair on the right in a size 7, by all means send them over. I figured waiting three days before they came out would not be too bad. I guess I underestimated the high demand for cheap designer shoes in this city... and the implications of 7 being the average female foot size.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Me too!

Plunging into Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking last night/this morning (strangely enough, six years later on the dot from when her year of magical thinking began- May 20 2004!) shifted, supported and strengthened my own recent perspectives on loss. Any person that has lost somebody they love deeply, in any capacity, will nod their head empathetically to her exploration of the grieving process. Although her experiences were far more tragic than anything I've undergone, naturally, I keep comparing my own symptoms of loss to hers. Anger turned sadness. Guilt. The "waves". Forgetting to breathe. Deep reminiscent states, with randomly selected recollections. Bouts of paralysis. Throat choking.

I've learned to welcome spontaneous, slowly swelling tears. I no longer make silly excuses to go to the bathroom to cry at work ("drank too much tea", "my allergies are killing me", etc.). Friends and family are quick to advise that "it gets better day by day", which is incomprehensible when you're overpowered by the same miserable feeling day after day. I choose to interpret this, instead (here's the pragmatic side of me kicking in), as: the next day brings you more distant from the pivotal decisive breaking point... And that the memory will get more blurry (or "mudgy" as Didion refers to it) and eventually you will forget. I remember, in some Anthro class, learning about Charles Lyell's contribution to Geology- "the gift of time". His is a name that instinctively pops up when I think of time or change.

Lyell theorized slow-moving forces that have always been present shaped, and continue to shape, the world. Although he wasn't entirely wrong, he didn't give too much credit to the unforeseeable, dramatic shifts that also serve as a springboard for change. For now, I will focus on the unobservable facts that somewhere there are tectonic plates converging, water levels rising, the earth is rotating and I am "healing". Facts help when there is so much uncertainty. I guess Didion, at some point, felt the same way:

"In time of trouble, I had been trained since childhood, read, learn, work it up, go to the literature. Information was control" (p. 44).


I wrote the above yesterday, May 21, hoping to rework the post when I had a more focused moment. Since then, I've finished the book, and smiled to see that on page 190 Didion writes:

After a few years of failing to find meaning in more commonly recommended venues I learned that I could find it in geology, so I did. This in turn enabled me to find meaning in the Episcopal litany, most acutely in the words as it was in the beginning, is now and every shall be, world without end, which I interpreted as a literal description of the constant changing of the earth, the unending erosion of the shores and mountains, the inexorable shifting of the geological structures that could throw up mountains and islands and could just as reliably take them away.

Me, too, Joan Didion!! Post complete.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Plants, Grapes and Tears

Every time I open up Year of Magical Thinking I start to sob. More on that later. If there's one thing I'm learning offsets sorrow pretty well, and inevitably, it's growth. Bluebs' muddled grapes, gin, Lillet and lemon juice drink doesn't hurt either. I got some overpriced tillandsia sprouts and African Lion's Tail seeds from Sprout and a spearmint plant from Red Rose and Lavender. They're in their pots and ready to grow.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ditching Things, One By One

I've made it a point to treat myself to Bouchon Bakery on Fridays exclusively. I don't think sugary baked goods are meant to be eaten for breakfast every single morning anyway. (Often, but not every single morning. Keep in mind, this is coming from a lady whose morning breakfast with her grandparents consisted of pan dulce and milked down coffee or milkshake, AKA choco-mil'). My preferred pastries are their chocolate and raspberry almond croissants. I skipped the coffee today, as I've been reserving that privilege for post-lunch hours, and made myself a peppermint tea when I got to the office.

I've also been skipping the great schlep of my laptop to and from work. It's heavier than most of the new Macs, I think (I'm still on the PowerBook G4! And it's served me well thus far, and so I'm giving the computer a kiss now and knocking on my desk three times three times. That wasn't a typo, I believe it doesn't work unless you knock thrice a consecutive three times). A coworker asked if I bring it to work with me every morning, and the week before, while Hook was in town, she pointed out that I've always been a schlepper of sorts. She recalled that in high school I would use giant, heavy bags packed with an incredible amount of inventive school supplies and irrelevant knick-knacks that I'd casually pull out Mary Poppins style. She's completely right though, and by the looks of things (glancing at my oversized bag), not much has changed...

Except that I have resolved to not bring the computer home each night. I have tons of pen and paper there, I happen to think my handwriting is nicer than Times New Roman, and my e-mails go straight to my phone. Why make things harder for yourself?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This is what a book looks like...

... after its been in my possession for over a month. And here is a quote that caught my attention this morning on my ride to work. Context: it's from after he describes the difference between the smooth rum of Martinique versus the harsher one from Puerto Rico, and their respective methods of distillation; from my favorite chapter titled "A Little Glass of Rum"*:

We may suppose, then, that the subtlety of the Martinique rums is dependent on impurities the continuance of which is encouraged by the archaic method of production. To me, this contrast illustrates the paradox of civilization: its charms are due essentially to the various residues it carries along with it, although this does not absolve us of the obligation to purify the stream. By being doubly in the right, we are admitting our mistake... Social life consists in destroying that which gives it its savour (Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques, p.384).

*Traditionally, French criminals about to be guillotined were offered a last cigarette and a little glass of rum. The author is referring to the significance of rum as discussed in the chapter and to the possible fate of both the anthropologist and mankind as a whole.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Year of Magical Reading Continues

With only 100 pages remaining in the last of my current to-reads (meaning 2 subway rides and a pre-schluff time slot ought to take care of the job), I'm gearing up to begin one or two of these guys over the weekend. I had put the Primo Levi book on the back burner since at least half of my work week has been devoted to researching Eastern Europe circa-1944. And so... I balanced it all out with a more opposite leisurely reading selection. I have a couple of other books on my wishlist (The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie: Three Novels by Agota Kristof is definitely on high priority). Another thing on my wishlist is to read from this bathtub:

I am "secret"ing (as in willing into fruition) that bathroom will become mine in the very near future, along with its matching studio, of course.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Orange Chicken?

Hook inspired me with her marmalade last night. I put a lonely orange that hadn't been eaten to use, along with leftover shallot from lunchtime and frozen chicken. The rest of this recipe was thanks to spice cabinet availables. I may have oversalted this dish a little, but I used the chicken to make a sandwich for lunch today and it was tasty. I used all of that one orange sliced in wedges which I stuffed under the skin (keeping some of the peel when I made the sandwich made a difference), the shallots (which wilted nicely when I roasted it after), curry powder, pepper, salt, chili flakes, a tiny bit of teriyaki and cooked it in sesame oil. I was so exhausted from the day (I started making this around 10 pm!) that I didn't even enjoy it hot, it went straight to leftovers status.

The colors weren't picked up too nicely on my camera phone, but the dish's palette consisted of browns, golds with purple (shallot) confettis.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More On Arizona

A brief reading list for you:

"Hysterical Nativism", The Economist. 22 Apr 2010.
•Berman, Russell. "Calls to boycott Arizona over immigration law divide Democrats", The Hill. 1 May 2010.
•Linton, Kim. "AG Eric Holder Admits He Hasn't Read Arizona's Immigration Law", Associated Content. 14 May 2010.
•Montgomery, Alicia. Diverse Experiences Enrich The Classroom, NPR via Tell Me More with Michel Martin. 14 May 2010.
•S., M. "Banning ethnic studies ", The Economist. 14 May 2010.

Charlotte Rampling Double Feature

... Per Hook's request, Swimming Pool and Vers le sud. Call it what you will- summer prep, escapism, research or something to make laundry night more palatable- it's happening, and it's happening with coconut oil popcorn and lime chips with mango-habanero salsa.

Grom for the Grumpy

I am cheered up by a workmate on this sticky, grey day with a special delivery of Grom gelato. Pictured below is a scoop of Bacio and another of Mandorla, AKA almond and hazlenut-chocolate. I am revisiting my weekend mentally and slowly getting over a mild case of grumpiness...

And I Got the Tan To Prove It

Finally, I got some color on me! After an overdone getaway (living at a hotel with my best friends who flew in from LA), I punctuated the week with a solitary springtime nap and picnic. On the day prior to this peaceful outing, I took a trip to the Russian and Turkish Bathhouse with Bluebs (my favorites were the Turkish and the Aromatherapy steam rooms). Although I wanted to keep eating their delectable seaweed salad, I limited myself to one serving, exfoliated it up and dried myself on their sun deck. The day couldn't have been more perfect for this. After capricious coldness, we were rewarded with consistent warmth both Saturday and Sunday.

The drink of choice seemed to be champagne at Fort Tryon Park. You could hear corks pop all around. Steady sunlight is a nice thing to celebrate, however, I opted for a homemade coffee which I added cinnamon and ground almonds to while it was brewing. It was also the ideal instance to debut the orange marmalade Hook made for me using the oranges from her mother's tree! It was insanely delicious with my wheat croissant that was flaked to perfection, and once in a while I'd mix in some of my creamy cheese...

I forgot what it's called, but it has the texture of a Cambembert and stinks a whole lot more. Bare feet, people watching, a 2 hour nap under the sun and finished reading An Equal Music with teary eyes... This is my new Sunday spot!

Thursday, May 13, 2010


When I was younger, my sister and I spent every summer with my tia and tio in Coahuila, Mexico. The vacations consisted of wandering around family ranches, swimming in murky lakes, fearing coyotes overnight, magical camp outs on my aunt's sprawling, firefly-lit backyard lawn, beating the older women at community games of Loteria and subsequently depriving them of their much anticipated kitchen appliance grand prizes... I was a lucky child in more ways than that.

We'd run outside in our bathing suits when it rained, many times with the sun out- my favorite, and would rush to bring the laundry hanging outside back indoors. My recollections are marred by an acrimonious interaction with my aunt, who I actively resented year after year, perhaps because as my caretaker, she was the perfect person to take my prepubescent aggression out on (and later pubertal aggression), which really stemmed from a form of homesickness. Towards the end of every season, I'd shamelessly get antsy for McDonald's, toys back home and like most other American 10 year olds, shopping malls. Years later, I find myself in the reverse scenario, wishing for the luxury of visiting my family in those parts!

On one particular trip over, my sister and I befriended a lovely pair of sisters from Mexico City who were staying with their aunt across the street from us. Gordis befriended the younger girl and I, the one my age. Addresses were exchanged and a long lasting transnational correspondence ensued. Naturally, it also dissipated, but years later, in the electronic age of having the option to order groceries online (not that I do, operative word: option) and denying the virtual friendship of a boy who was mean to me in 5th grade, my former pen pal and I reunited online. I was happy to learn she was as knowledgeable and enjoyable as I remembered her from my youth, and we have managed to remain part of each others' lives since.

In a full-circle-to-a-close sort of way, it makes sense that a person I associate with a more personal example of a growing global community would start this type of business. I am delighted for her new endeavor and proud to say I could contribute in its early stages. Great job, Mayalen!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Music Hook & I Can Agree On

Focus on 2:41-3:47.

Ay, Mama...


I'm not sure where my mother gets these, but I hope she keeps them coming for a very long time!

And what better caption than this quote I found on Miss Whistle's page:

The pleasures of outdoor food are those that nature has to offer, as ephemeral as they are intense. A bird will sing his song and fly away, leaves will flutter and jostle the sunlight for a brief second—sky, flowers, and scents have each their small parts to play in the perfect happiness of those enchanted moments. They serve, as Jean Jacques Rousseau said, to "liberate the soul" (Claudia Roden, Everything Tastes Better Outdoors, p.4).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Post Not Germane To Photos

So while the following has nothing to do with the pretty flowers I saw this weekend, it does deal with germination, more or less... Namely, fostering the idea that everything is temporary, and consequently to not take anything for granted. Joni Mitchell sang about it in reference to the environment in "Big Yellow Taxi" and Janet Miss Jackson later echoed her sentiment with regard to romance in "Gone 'til It's Gone". I post this now because I just heard the latter and noticed a similar parallel within the two books I'm currently reading. I highlighted this passage while reading Tristes Tropiques:

While I complain of being able to glimpse no more than the shadow of the past, I may be insensitive to reality as it is taking shape at this very moment, since I have not reached the stage of development at which I would be capable of perceiving it. A few hundred years hence, in this same place, another traveler, as despairing as myself, will mourn the disappearance of what I might have seen, but failed to see (Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques p. 43).

While in An Equal Music the narrator Michael Holme spends the first dozens of pages reflecting on the regret of leaving a woman that will later haunt him for ten years before resurfacing and resuming their romance. Pff, don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got til it's gone, Michael?

Relocating the All Star Game writes:

Adrian Gonzalez is one of baseball’s best players and a two-time All-Star. But the San Diego Padres first baseman says he won’t go to the 2011 All-Star game — scheduled for Phoenix — as long as Arizona’s unjust law SB 1070 is in effect.

Gonzalez isn’t alone. Many other major league players and coaches are saying they don’t want to play ball in a state where Latino players — who make up more than 25% of the League — and Latino fans are subject to racial profiling.

The All-Star Game represents one of the highest-profile events every season in baseball — second only to the World Series. As much as $60 million will be spent in the host region during All-Star Game weekend. We need to let Arizona know that we won’t let them profit from discrimination and extremism.

This kind of pressure has worked on Arizona in the past, and it can again. In 1987, after Arizona’s Governor rescinded the state’s recognition of the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday, the National Football League voted to move the 1993 Super Bowl from Arizona to California. Only after Arizona’s voters re-instated the holiday was Tempe awarded the Super Bowl.

To help direct the game to another state click here.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Step Your Plant Game UP

Ugh... Bluebs is beating me.

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I'm an LA transplant now living in Brooklyn. I develop film projects by day, write at night, and have a dangerous predilection for vintage Robinson Golluber scarves- this blog serves as a tiny window to everything else I do when I'm not satisfying those first three passions. I'm trying to blog more and tweet less @annabelleqv. What about you?


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