Sunday, November 28, 2010

Weekend Wanderings: Thanksgiving Weekend

I had a lovely long weekend. With five days off, it was the first time I've had more than three days in a row off since June, and I was thrilled with the extra time. Most of Wednesday was spent baking and putting together the side dishes I offered to make. Of the recipes I tried, I would only really recommend one - the corn pudding. It was light and filling and made a perfect side dish or lunch item. I cut myself on the chestnuts three times (roasting them is harder than it sounds!), and I still think it was worth it. That recipe makes a ton, so get ready for leftovers (which actually keep remarkably well). A pecan pie I made looked beautiful, but turned out to be a little undercooked. We didn't discover this until we cut into it on Thanksgiving, though. That evening, I bragged about it to Shelby and April at Desert Sun's bar. They make good margaritas. Really good margaritas.

Thanksgiving itself was very nice. Liz hosted it at her house, and my family brought my sister's boyfriend. Liz had prepared espresso martinis and an appetizer of cranberry goat cheese, which were delicious, along with a brined turkey and her famous sweet potato puree. We provided a few side dishes, and seven pies. Yes, you heard me. Seven pies for six people. Needless to say, we didn't finish them. It was a quiet, enjoyable evening.

Friday morning was spent putting up Christmas decorations (my little apartment is filled with fake pine and string lights, just the way I like it). I really enjoy putting all my ornaments on the tree just-so. I started collecting them during my travels, and each one brings up really nice memories of the place where it was found. I did absolutely no shopping (though I did update my amazon wishlist, in case anyone wants to buy me a present!), so Black Friday didn't really affect me at all, but I did get a bit further in my applications, which made me feel a little better about the state of my life. In the evening, Theresa, Cece, and Rachel joined us for some pie (are you shocked?). It was really nice to see and catch up with everyone, and I think they enjoyed the pie as much as we did.

Saturday I woke up early and proceeded to work on more applications before Leah made her way down from Boston. We chatted with her and had our usual adventures before heading out to get Mexican food for dinner. Desert Sun (yes, I went twice in four days) was decorated for Christmas and looked lovely, but the meal wasn't as good as I'd remembered from a few months ago, but it was still Mexican (which I'd been craving), and so that was enough. I hope you won't be too surprised to hear that when we returned, we enjoyed pie again, with J.J. and Kali joining us for dessert and a game of Apples-to-Apples.

This morning, after dropping Leah off at the train, my family and I headed north to Bilmar Nurseries, where we picked out and chopped down our Christmas tree. The trees weren't as big as they were last year, but we still found a really gorgeous one. It was a clear, cool day, and the nurseries were empty, so it was ideal for searching around. I'm always amazed by how beautiful things are right here, and seeking out a Christmas tree today was really the embodiment of it. Fall passed so quickly, and I know winter always lasts longer than we want it to, but as my days grow more hectic, I've so appreciated being able to stop and look around. Winter, if nothing else, slows us down and lets us stop and look around. I know this is going to be a wonderful one.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Life List Accomplished: No. 1, Have a Book Published

In 2007, my first book was published. Horses, as I fondly refer to it (and as it happens to be titled), was one of several books I edited during my tenure at Hylas Publishing. Others included the perennial favorite Sex Masters and The Wisdom of Penguins. Luckily, those two books already had a brand associated with them, so they don’t bear my name and don’t come up when you google me. (Although, perhaps almost worse than having Sex Masters come up under your name is having one of your parents’ friends insist on calling you “Ms. Foxx” every time he sees you. Thanks, terrible pen-name.)

Work on these books primarily involved finding facts (or sexual positions) and rewriting them, before strategically pairing them with quotes and photos you’d found at stockhouses (or which were taken specifically for the book by a couple who had broken up before their contract with us was done). Then, production worked its magic, and a few months after I’d left the job assuming my name wasn’t going on anything, I saw a copy of Horses on Amazon. It doesn't usually bother me that I had so little control over the book my name graces (although reading about Cooks Source and James Frey's writing factory made me super paranoid for a few days), and I alternate between finding it sort of funny and reminding myself that plenty of other writers wrote newspaper articles and Duran Duran biographies before they could write what they wanted. And I also take great pride in the fact that it received a positive review.

And that’s how I got published.

[Clearly, when writing this part of the list, I wasn’t specific enough. I hereby add 42 as an amendment: Have a Book of Poetry Published.]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I'm grateful for so much. Each year, I'm amazed by the incredible friends and family I have, both nearby and far away, and they're always at the top of my list. I'm also grateful for the bounty of food I'm blessed with, both at the holidays and daily, and for the safety and health another year has brought me and my loved ones.


This week, in particular, I'm grateful for Roger, who loves me unconditionally and keeps me calm even when he has just as much anxiety as I do; for quiet days when I can get lots accomplished; for the beauty in all five senses that the holiday season brings; and for my job, which is challenging and interesting without being all-consuming.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weekend Wanderings: Out & About

It's not exactly the weekend, but I want to mention that I went to a Burlesque Blowout put together by the Fiction Circus and Caper Literary Journal last Wednesday, and it was fantastic. As Kevin knows, one of the things I don't love about the Fiction Circus is its hatred toward poetry, which, after an admittedly hilarious explanation by John Thorton, I understand, but still think is wrong. This reading cleared that up a little with some poetry from the Caper Literary Journal and the Poetry Brothel, along with some great burlesque. And, before that, I bought boots (the first attractive and comfortable pair I own!) and ate dumplings with Jess. Basically, it was the greatest Wednesday in the history of Wednesdays.

Friday also proved to be wonderful, starting with a post-work happy hour at the Rattle and Hum. I don't love midtown bars (who does?), but I do love my coworkers. And I love being able to say that. I left after one drink and headed uptown to Roger's bosses' apartment for a film screening and dinner party. The films were interesting, and it was nice to talk to some new people. His coworker Jess also met the subject of one of her papers, which was probably the highlight of her Friday evening, so that was fun to witness.

Saturday I helped the family put up some Christmas lights, wrote an article, and procrastinated on applications before meeting up with Beth for a fantastic evening of Settlers of Catan at her house. I hadn't seen her in ages, so that, combined with the powers of the amazing game, made for a wonderful evening.

Sunday was a bit more of the same, except it ended with me actually sort of starting an application, which was surprising and wonderful. More of that will happen during the long week. I promise. Also, if we're being honest, probably some shopping. I'm trying to buy more homemade this holiday, but I also enjoy browsing and being in the middle of the holiday rush for a bit. I spent Sunday evening at an Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, which was much more religious than any of the candlelight interfaith services I went to at Oxford. I was covering it for a story, and it sort of forced me to come to terms with my relationship to religion a little bit more than I have in the past. I won't go into the gory details, but I'm really on the outs with organized religion, and I realized yesterday that the last three times I was in a church were for two funerals and a wedding that ended in divorce less than a year later. So, naturally, I came into the service with my own baggage. While I'm glad I went, and thought it was a nice ceremony and that everything that was said was very nice, it really isn't my thing.

Here's to a good Thanksgiving week!

Friday, November 19, 2010

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude


A friend told me a few days ago that my inability to see my own privilege infuriated her. I've been thinking about privilege for a long time, mine, and others', white privilege, male privilege, the privilege that comes along with living in the United States, with being in my income bracket, with being able to live with my parents right now. This certainly wasn't the first time I've been asked to look at the fortune I've been blessed with, and I know it won't be the last time I'm told I am infuriating. So, it didn't really get me thinking much on my own privilege. That's a long process that won't end any time soon. It did, however, get me thinking more on how I present my awareness of this privilege.

I'm afraid there's no way for me to talk about it without sounding prideful and uneducated, but I know there is a way, and I just need to find it. In the meantime, the least offensive way to address it, I think, is to focus on the things I'm grateful for, that I can single out as important and valuable to me. If we're friends on facebook, you may have seen me post about "What I'm Loving." I'm hoping this will be an extension of that. There are so many things I overlook, and I hope to give some attention to those things here.

Today, I am thankful for friends who bring out the better in me, upcoming holiday celebrations, poetry and the ability to take a class in it, gifted yarn, muffs.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Weekend Wanderings: Sunken Mines

I thought I would spend this weekend holed up preparing applications and writing articles and crying. Luckily, it turned out to be much more wonderful than that. On Friday evening after work, I went to Lombardi's for pizza with a coworker and her friend. The pizza was pretty good, and despite the long wait, it was pretty cool to eat at the oldest pizza place in the country. I can't really imagine what people ate when they were pressed for time before 1904. Maybe people were less pressed for time then, and so always had time to put together food at home. Something to consider. After, we headed to Here Theater to see a showing of Soul Leaves Her Body, an integrated-media performance. The show features dance, live-video, film, and music, and while the first half, the part that featured primarily dance, was interesting, it lost my attention about halfway through and never got it back. It was nice to get out and see some live performance, since it's been a long time, but I don't think I'd recommend it to anyone.

Saturday, I was truly ready to hunker down and get some work done, but after finishing up a tiny bit in the morning, Cece invited me to come for a hike at the Sunken Mines, and I had to go. I've never been up there before, and I knew this might be one of the last nice weekends before "nice day hikes" turn into "freeze winter hikes on icy rocks." I'm so glad I did. We had a quick hike up to the top, where we enjoyed the lovely view. Even with most of the leaves already down, there's something nice about seeing the last burnt orange ones standing up in a field of brown. We called our friend Emily and wished her a happy birthday, took some photos, and headed down the opposite side of the mountain. About four miles away from the car. Just as it was starting to get dark. After pacing around the road for a while and being joined by a dog, we decided rather than walk in what we weren't sure was the right direction, we would call for help, and were promptly rescued by Cece's dad's girlfriend. We learned our lesson, and vowed to bring a map next time we were hiking, even hiking in what is essentially our backyard, even if we were fine in the woods, because we definitely had trouble on the road. We rounded the night off with some Thai food at Bangkok Spice, which was good and which I didn't even know existed. I am glad to be able to add Thai to my list of available foods.

Today has been much quieter. I ran an interview this morning and wrote that article. I was able to get a little bit of knitting done, and start working on my Christmas cards, and I'm hoping to finish up those applications once I post this article. And, Roger proved himself to be a wonderful boyfriend by getting cold cuts for lunch while he was out buying flashcards for the GRE. He is using them now and memorizing words at an alarmingly fast rate. His memory is much better than mine. Now, if I can get my applications settled tonight, I'll consider this weekend a true success!