Thursday, March 31, 2011

Collage, Cyborg, Corpse: Conference in Indiana

 Saturday, March 26, 2011 - Bloomington, IN

Carlea & Me, pre-conference
Saturday morning, we woke up early and headed to campus to prepare for our talk, "Collage, Cyborg, Corpse: Metaphors for Collaborative Experience," which we gave at 9am.  You can see the talk for yourself over at Call & Response, but I think it went really well.  Since I haven't explained yet what we were proposing, I'll give a little detail.  After looking over more recent scholarship on collaboration (Levi-Strauss's bricoleur and Haraway's cyborg), we realized that while these were completely interesting and valid metaphors, we had a third, equally valid one: the exquisite corpse.*  Looking at modern life's myriad collaborations, surrealism becomes a remarkably relevant lens.  People seemed to understand what we were saying (some nods, some note-taking), and the questions they asked at the end were all really intelligent, and made some valid points.  The only thing I would change about our presentation is that I would have preferred to have a more conversational presentation, since we mostly read the paper directly, which isn't my favorite presentation strategy.  Given how crazy busy we both were in the weeks leading up to it, though, and the fact that I've been out of school for three years and Carlea's been out for one year, I think we did a damn good job, and I'm really proud of us.  The paper may not have been total genius, and C&R may never get a million readers (or, let's be honest, a thousand), but we worked really hard on both, and we care a lot about both, and the fact that we're doing them is awesome.

Carlea & Jeremy are hilarious.
The presentations after ours were both really interesting, if only slightly related to our project.  Carlea and I joked that we were accidentally put on the panel, which was called "Almost Alive," because we had the word cyborg in our title.  I don't doubt that, but the other two papers, Kimberly A. Musial's "The Bionic Skyscraper: Kenneth Yeang's National Library of Singapore" and Joseph A. Tuminello III's "Connections Between Humans & their Avatars: Applying Clark & Chalmer's** 'Extended Mind' Thesis," were both really interesting, and I'm honored that we could all share a panel.  We attended a second panel, "Between You ad Me...", which was more of a discussion, right afterward, and I had a chance to meet up with my friend Traci (who, coincidentally, was presenting at the same time as we were, about collaborative poetry) for the first time since I worked with her on the SLC Poetry Festival in 2008.  She's amazing, and when I asked, "What have you been up to for three years?", she casually replied, "Well, once I finished my MFA, I drove across the country and lived in my car before marrying my best friend and having my first book published.  Since he's finishing his PhD at Western Michigan and I knew I'd be there for at least four more years, I figured I should get mine too, so now I'm teaching and doing that."  Wow, right?  I know.  Wow.
Ahh!  Boylan's Soda Fountain!

On the way to Soma.
Carlea and I skipped the free pizza lunch to continue our foray through Bloomington's amazing food scene.  After stopping by the Bloomington Public Library booksale (finds: Brenda Hillman, Robert Bly, Michael Fried, Saskia Hamilton, Joshua Weiner, and Zadie Smith) and meeting up with some of Carlea's folklore friends, we all headed over to Bloomingfoods, one of my most favorite grocery stores of all time.  It's small, local, with a few branches, each of which is special in its own way.  On Saturday afternoon, we headed to the smallest of the three branches, which has an amazing deli.  Carlea and I split an enormous turkey, avocado and cheddar sandwich AND a delicious quesadilla with goat cheese and pear relish on a perfectly fried corn tortilla.  I'd forgotten how deeply in love with corn tortillas I am.  The cherry on top?  A Boylan's soda fountain!  For $0.99 a glass!  Oh my god, I nearly died.  This was such a fun, fun meal.  I am smiling just thinking about it now.

Carlea, Ozan, and Dave at Turkauz.
After lingering upstairs in the dining area for a while, we decided we had time to head to Material Plane, another vintage shop, before Jeremy needed to be at his presentation.  The shop was nice, and a few of us tried different things on, but no one purchased anything.  A quick stop for a Lewinsky at Soma (okay, it was around this point that I decided I should eschew all pretension about living in New York and move to Bloomington) and we headed over to the Kelley Business School, where the Folklore conference was being held to see Jeremy's presentation on "Creating Community in New Delhi's Comics Culture."  One ice cream sundae at Hartzell's later, and we were back at Michelle's, relaxing and packing until dinner time, which turned out to be quite late.  A big group of us met up at Turkauz, a Turkish cafe where we were all able to sit on the floor.  Don't ask why I find this so appealing.  I just do.  I had a wonderful eggplant pide with fried egg, and with the delicious lentil soup and the salads that came before it, a small was the perfect size.  I'm not sure why, but about halfway through the pide, it started to feel like one of the best meals I'd had in a long time.  All of the food was incredible this trip, but there was something just perfect about the fried bread.  And at $10 for the whole meal, I don't think I need to explain how into Bloomington I was by the end of Saturday.  I was totally in.

*I link to wikipedia here because wikipedia is part of our argument, and also because it's usually really good at making difficult concepts easier to understand.  If you'd like to see some of the sources we used, though, shoot me a comment and I'll send you copies.
** Um, these two are my authors!  Did I tell you I have the greatest job ever?

Collage, Cyborg, Corpse: Conference in Indiana

Friday, March 28, 2011 - Bloomington, IN

IU Graveyard
Carlea and I woke up early on Friday morning and headed to Scholar's Inn Bakehouse for breakfast.  They have free wifi, and we lingered over our meals (me: biscuits and gravy, of course!) to put the finishing touches up on our paper, and post some more C&R calls.  Around 10am, we headed over to the Memorial Union to see "Speaking for the Group," my first panel of the conference.  I've been posting about each of the panels at C&R, so I won't double up here, but let me say that this panel was really wonderful, and instantly brought me back into the creative world, inspiring me to think more carefully about the narrators I choose.  In my poems, it often feels that the narrator has chosen itself, and this was a nice reminder that I'm in control of the piece.
Chevrette Pizza!

Groovy PlayPlace
After the first panel, Carlea and I headed to Cactus Flower, a fun vintage shop where I bought two shirts, since I'd only packed enough clothing for two days, not four. We then went to lunch at FARMbloomington, which was amazing.  I was really impressed over the weekend by how sustainable Bloomington seemed to be.  There were lots of independent shops and local restaurants, coffeeshops, and groceries seemed to be really progressive.  FARM was no exception to this, and used high quality ingredients to create the two amazing dishes we shared - famous fries (with parmesan and chili flakes) and the Chevrette pizza (with goat cheese, arugula, walnuts and red grapes) - to create a lovely meal.  I'm also really hoping to recreate their pumpkin patch pizza, with pumpkin, bison pepperoni, and Gouda, one day at home.

Carlea in the gorgeous house, post-potluck.
We attended the "Collaborations Across Media" undergraduate panel, and then headed back to Michelle's house to bake cookies and practice reading our paper for the first time.  Yes, I worked on a paper for two months and never read it out loud until the day before we presented.  Stop judging.  We headed over to the Folklore & Ethnomusicology potluck.  Carlea graduated with her MA in Folklore from IU last year, and still has several friends there, including one fellow SLC graduate, so it was great to meet all of them.  In addition to being local and sustainable, Bloomington is also home to some of the coolest new people I've met in a while, and spending time with them, in a gorgeous house, eating great potluck food was a great way to end a lovely evening.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Collage, Cyborg, Corpse: Conference in Indiana

Thanks to anyone visiting from Lauren's blog today! Just so you're caught up, I spoke at a conference at Indiana University this weekend, so I'm recounting the trip, day-by-day this week.  If you're interested in reading more about the conference, we've written all about it over at Call & Response.


Thursday, March 24, 2011 - New York to Minnesota to Indiana

Bloomington, IL to Bloomington, IN
I left New York on Thursday morning ready to take Indiana by storm.  My flight was fine, though a woman with two young daughters who cried most of the way sat next to me.  This was probably all for the best, because I have an innate sympathy with babies who cry; I, too, sometimes want to cry because I can't properly communicate my needs and desires to others.  I arrived in Minneapolis and was excited to find the airport was really quite nice, with several Minnesota! gift shops, a Maui Taco, and Pachelbel's Canon in D playing on the loudspeakers.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at the gate for my connection, I was faced with the horrifying realization that I'd booked a flight to the wrong city.  Yes, you heard me.  THE WRONG CITY.    In case your geography is as horrifying as my own, I've included a helpful map to show how far apart these two places are, approximately 200 miles.  After a frantic phone call to Carlea, my conference partner, alerting her to the fact that I am an idiot and might need to change my pick-up plans, I ran over to the customer service desk.  I told the woman on the phone (yes, Virginia, the customer service desk is a table with six phones on it) my sad story, and she helped me rebook the correct flights.  I was even lucky enough to get put on an earlier flight to Indianapolis (the correct airport, in case you were wondering), and arrived at the Indiana Memorial Union only an hour later than I'd originally expected. The moral of this story?  Have someone triple check your reservation before you make it, or just don't be me, traveling alone.
Indiana University

That evening was a quiet one.  I marveled at the enormity of IU for a bit (the school is 40 times larger than my college, and is exactly the traditional university that I thought I wanted to go to for undergrad [and where I know I would have survived for approximately 2 weeks]), gazing at their huge football field and big stone buildings.  Carlea, Michelle (the wonderful friend who opened her home to us for the weekend) and I had a delicious and filling dinner at Mother Bear's Pizza, where we ordered the Treasure of Monte Cristo, a white pizza with spinach, bacon, tomatoes, and fontina cheese.  After a day spent stressed and eating peanuts, it really hit the spot, and was the first of many really delicious meals I would have during the trip.  Carlea and I spent the rest of the evening at Michelle's catching up.  Though we run a moderately-successful 'zine together and wrote an entire conference paper together, we hadn't actually seen each other in well over a year, and so it was wonderful to spend the whole weekend talking.  Then, around 1am, we decided to get some sleep so we could get an early start on Friday's panels.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vacation Message

I leave for Indiana in just a few minutes, to speak at the Collections and Collaborations Conference.  I'm hoping to blog from there, and we'll be liveblogging over at Call & Response, but just in case it doesn't happen, I wanted to let you know that I'll be speaking on the Exquisite Corpse as a metaphor for modern life at 9am on Saturday morning at Ballantine Hall 006.  If you happen to be in Bloomington, you should definitely come!


http://www.flickr.com/photos/65977087@N00/3453247252


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gratituesday: Work

I love my job.*  I love my job so much and for so many reasons.  My colleagues are amazing:  I belong to a book club, social committee, and an informal poetry class with the great people there, not to mention how awesome the people I chat with throughout the day, and go to lunch and happy hours with are.  My supervisors are also amazing:  They're smart, diligent, and fair.  The books we publish are real works by real writers: they contribute to scholarship, win awards, and hold my own interest.  During the day, I feel independent, responsible, and like I'm contributing to something bigger than myself.  The work is challenging, interesting, and meaningful, and when it isn't, being a part of a company I believe in more than makes up for it.  As was once pointed out to me, Oxford University Press was around long before I was born (we opened for business, more or less, in 1480), and it will be around long after I am gone.  I love this, also.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/84484733@N00/2252524985
But the real, most deeply ingrained reason I love my work, is, I think, this: When I was studying at Oxford, we visited the press, and I held the typesetter's block for Alice in Wonderland's "The Mouse's Tale" in my hands. I held it in my hands.  It was beautiful, swirling, magical, and OUP was the only place it could be done.  Being at Oxford felt so deeply like that beautiful, swirling, magical place inside the text, and for that moment, I was holding it in my hands.  That moment has passed in so many ways, but working here allows me to keep it alive in a small way.  Everyday, I get to walk through our gold revolving doors, tap my feet along our marble floor, past twin fish fountains and the conference room where I first heard the details of attending Oxford, and help someone else hold that feeling in their hands.  At the risk of truly sounding like a commercial, OUP is a department of the University of Oxford, and we are a not-for-profit educational publisher.  This is more important to me than I can say.


*Yes, I took a seven-month break from it after working there for a year-and-a-half, and yes, of course, there are days when I am stressed, frustrated, and cranky about it.  But overall, I'm happy to be there, and so grateful I can say that. I don't know whether I'm really allowed to write about it on here, but since I only have wonderful things to say about it, I'm hopeful this won't get me fired.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: A Social Weekend

Leaving the Office on Friday
With warmer weather coming, I've been a little more social than I have been in a while, which has been lovely.  On Friday evening, I met Roger at his new workplace* and we took the train up to Hastings-on-Hudson to meet up with our friends Alana and Mered.  We went to Rainwater Grill for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, though Mered and I both ordered a la carte, and the food was very good.  We started off in the bar area for drinks, which was cute, and then headed to the dining room as our reservation came up.  I was really impressed by the two appetizers Alana and Roger ordered from the RW menu, roasted artichokes and mussels respectively.  For an entree, I had lobster macaroni & cheese, which was very good, though not quite as good as the same dish I had at the Artist's Palate for NYE three years ago. (Needless to say, that version is on my top-ten list of best foods ever.)  The tiramisu that Roger and I split was also really good, and I really give the place credit for doing such a nice job on RW.  Some places consider it a chance to slack off, but not Rainwater.  It was also just really wonderful to see Alana and Mered, whom I've known for nearly six years, and whom I never see often enough.  We played around with "Flat Sarah" for a little while, and got caught up on everything we've been up to, and some SLC gossip.  It was a wonderful start to a really great weekend.


On Saturday, Roger and I headed into the city to do research for one of his classes.  We stopped at the Peekskill Coffee House for some coffees and a morning glory muffin, which is the greatest thing on earth.  It's sort of a carrot-y, cake-y, health-y ball of goodness, and it goes really well with steamed milk.  We made the train with no time to spare, and slowly made our way from Grand Central to the Museum of Arts and Design, enjoying the nice weather and the chance to not be running down the street trying to be somewhere.  Roger was extremely sensitive to my aversion to museums, and despite this being the first museum he's made me visit since France, he let me shop along the way, and even stopped so we could get hot dogs for lunch before going inside.  (Did I mention I turn into a 5-year-old when I have to go a museum?)  The exhibition, The Global Africa Project, was interesting, and definitely worth a look (though the museum is pricey - $15 a head).  Roger has his own opinions on it,
Hot Dog!
which I'm hoping he'll put up on his blog soon, and while I agree with him that the exhibit was difficult to follow (both intellectually and physically - it takes up 2.5 floors), I did think it was an interesting concept, and I liked quite a few of the pieces, especially Fred Wilson's Iago's Mirror, Sheila Bridges's Harlem Toile de Jouy (and, um, OMG go look at her other wallpapers!), Bibi Seck's Taboo, and Ousmane M'Baye's Kitchen Furniture.  The evening was spent at a celebratory vernal equinox potluck in Brooklyn, thrown by my friend and colleague Katie.  The potluck involved copious amounts of homemade macaroni & cheese and homebrewed Belgian honey ale, both of which were equally fantastic.


After all that moving and shaking, it was nice to spend Sunday decompressing the way I do best - shopping.  I bought some new clothes for the conference this week and tiles for my kitchen wall (yes, a year and a half in, and with a high-likelihood I'll move out in the next six months, we're finally finishing the kitchen).  I worked out on the WiiFit for a little while and worked on the paper with Carlea some more, before looking up some things to do in Indiana and getting a little shut-eye.

*I'm very excited to tell everyone that Roger was asked to work on an upcoming exhibit at the Met, and so he quit his job and will be doing that while working on his MA for the rest of the semester.  I'm so proud and very excited for him!

Friday, March 18, 2011

{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.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Soda Bread

John & Judith O'Kane
Since my most popular blog post is actually a top five list of things to do in Ireland, I figure you might be fans of St. Patrick's Day.  I like all sorts of little holidays, and my maternal grandfather (see the picture below, on the right) came over from County Clare in the 1920s, so I have a little bit of Irish pride, though he died about 15 years before I was born.  My mother's best friend's parents, who were like grandparents to us, were also Irish, so I feel that connection, also.  Plus, any time I've been to Ireland, people have been incredibly friendly to me.  It's a culture I can really appreciate.

Judith and Eunan O'Kane
I don't celebrate the holiday much (although now that I like stouts, maybe I'll have a Guinness tomorrow!), but I had some spare time this evening, so I baked some Irish Soda Bread.  I was surprised to find that there weren't too many people on my reader with recipes for it, so I went with a highly-rated one on Epicurious, that's more of an American version, and it's delicious.  I made two smaller loaves (one for work and one for home) on a regular cookie sheet, and substituted regular milk with a teaspoon of vinegar and a half teaspoon extra baking soda for the buttermilk, because I didn't have any around the house.  I'd also consider cutting the raisins by half next time, since it really was chock-full of them.  If you don't like sweet breads (not to be confused with sweetbreads), you could probably also cut some of the sugar.  Still, it was beyond enjoyable, especially warm, and I hope my coworkers like it tomorrow!

Irish Soda Bread (from Epicurious)
  • 5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 cups raisins
  • 3 tablespoons caraway seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter heavy ovenproof 10- to 12-inch-diameter skillet with 2- to 2 1/2-inch-high sides. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter; using fingertips, rub in until coarse crumbs form. Stir in raisins and caraway seeds. Whisk buttermilk and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dough; using wooden spoon, stir just until well incorporated (dough will be very sticky). 

Transfer dough to prepared skillet; smooth top, mounding slightly in center. Using small sharp knife dipped into flour, cut 1-inch-deep X in top center of dough. Bake until bread is cooked through and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool bread in skillet 10 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly in foil; store at room temperature.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gratituesday: My Body

A really amazing post on You're Welcome recently has gotten me thinking.  The post, "Why I'm Fat Positive," came at just the right moment for me.  I gained a little bit of weight recently, and I've been obsessing over it.  Not in the way that I think a lot of women obsess over these things, but I think about it more than I usually think about my body.  I know how it got there (eating more, and less healthily, than I usually do, and not working out), but it still felt like a bit of a shock, and so I worried about it.  My family and I just started Weight Watchers, I'm hoping to move back toward vegetarianism, and I've been, dare I say it, running a little bit.  It all feels new, so we'll see where it leads.  I'm glad to be getting healthier, and even though it's only been ten days (and three lost pounds), I'm already feeling better.  I was feeling slower, achier, and like my clothes didn't fit right, all of which left me feeling unhealthy, something I don't like.  I'm so happy to be moving past that.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/37205687@N07/4489969571

But, I also want to make it clear that I'm worried about how upset the extra weight made me.  If you put me at my lowest weight, I'd gained nine pounds.  But my lowest weight isn't really my average weight.  My average weight is a little higher than that, just about where I am now, between 140-145 pounds.  So, in reality, I'd gained about four pounds.  Can someone please tell my emotions how little four pounds is?  Or even nine pounds?  Because good grief, it's not a lot of weight.  If someone else, if anyone else told me they were upset they'd gained four pounds, I'd roll my eyes.  I'd be queen of the eyerolls, because, seriously, four pounds?  That's nothing, and there are plenty of other, far more important things to worry about.  And, really, I think I'm fat positive.  I'm all about eating what you want, when you want, and finding the right fit for you.  I hate counting calories because I think it essentializes nutrition.  I hate dieting because I enjoy food so much and don't believe in restricting things you love.  I believe in exercising, making healthy choices, and above all, being comfortable in your own skin, no matter how big or small it is.

So, um, yeah, consider my surprise when I started to freak out over these four pounds, because I've been saying this, I've been living this, for six years.  I've eaten whatever I wanted (including, but not limited to, enormous portions of fresh pizza, Ethiopian food, cream soups, desserts, and a number of other things I love that don't exactly count as "light" foods), and I've exercised as much as I've enjoyed, either through hard time at the gym or walking copious amounts to get from place to place.  And I thought, This is it, I'm healthy and I'm happy and I'm eating whatever the hell I want: I am living fat-positive.  I didn't realize, though, that part of the reason I was so positive about it was that I was losing weight the whole time - a full fifty pounds from the time I was around 16 to the time I was 20, when I more or less evened out to where I am now.  I was heavy in middle and high school, but somehow managed to avoid being bullied, so any distress over it was entirely internal, but it was a lot of distress, and I'd been glad to be done with it.  Having it come back, so quickly, after so many years of thinking it didn't matter, scares me.

So, I just wanted to say here, for the record, that I love my body.  Even when it's heavy, even when it's slow, even when my knees hurt and my stomach feels tight and my hair is filled with split ends, I'm thankful for everything I can do and all the health I have.  It's not perfect, and it never will be, and frankly, I don't even know what a perfect body is supposed to be.  So, I promise not to turn this into a weight-loss blog, but since everyone was so supportive last Friday, I wanted to share a little of my background and current plans with you.  I'm doing my best to be fat-positive, even as that foundation feels like it was shaken the past few weeks, and I'm doing my best to be healthy.  And that's all I can ask.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: Pampered Chef Party

My Pampered Chef weekend began as many good weekends do - with delicious beer at a colleague/friend's going away party.  The beer was a Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, and it was so good.  I've gotten into stouts a lot more since this fall, and I was really impressed by this one.  I headed home early, since I had to leave for Albany the next morning, but it was still a lovely evening.

So much deliciousness.
On Saturday, I drove up to Shelby's, and was, as usual, late.  I'd hoped to be there by 11am, but since I had to drop Roger off at work, and we had to get fancy coffee before going (I'm not really complaining; Peekskill Coffeehouse makes me so happy every morning we go there), I didn't get upstate until noon.  At that point, Shelby's mother was well on her way up, so we waited for her to get there before we made it to our first big destination: Dinosaur Barbecue.  I loved it when I tried in Harlem, and the Troy location did not disappoint.  We grabbed a pitcher of Magic Hat Vinyl, an amber lager that I really liked, and sat right on the Hudson River.  The food was really great, but I was especially keen on the appetizers and side dishes.  Sometimes, big chunks of meat are too much for me, but their wings, fried green tomatoes, and potato salad were just amazing.  If' you get a chance to go to any of their locations, I'd say you should definitely try it!

Me & Shelby at Dinosaur Barbecue
We headed back to Shelby's house and got things ready for the party, which was lots of fun.  I've been to sales parties before, and I mostly don't love them.  (If you ask me nicely, maybe I'll tell you about my brief stint as a Passion Parties representative.)  This one was a lot more fun than they usually are, though, so I'd consider having one of my own one day.  I might be biased, because I love kitchen tools, but it just felt much more enjoyable than jewelery or candle parties.  Damon, our representative (not going to lie, as much as I love all-female gatherings, I am also really into the idea of a co-ed kitchenwares party), made a quick appetizer, pull-away pizza, which was really good and simple, and taught us how to make a chocolate volcano cake in a rice-cooker.  Reader, I bought that rice-cooker.  And, two other things I've been wanting for some time, a cheese board and a (manual) food processor.  It was more than I wanted to spend, but they're also things I think I'll use often, and I've been more careful about spending, so I think it's alright.  Shelby's friends were all really open and welcoming, which was wonderful.  I think I've said this before, but since living here can be a little isolating, these get-togethers make me so very happy, and I'm always excited to meet new and interesting people.  These ladies were all really different from each other, but each of them was awesome in her own way!

Sunday, after losing an hour of sleep (blast you, daylight savings time!), Shelby and Mike took me to the Half Moon Diner, which had amazing eggs Benedict, one of my favorite breakfasts, and I headed down the Taconic and back home.  Roger and I spent the rest of the evening working, and Carlea and I made some progress on our paper.  It's not there yet, but I'm really excited by the process.  As I'm starting to really get a hold on my priorities, interesting people, good food, and time to enjoy my life are becoming very important to me.  This weekend combined all of those!

Friday, March 11, 2011

[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, March 8, 2011

Gratituesday: Feminism & International Women's Day

I think it almost goes without saying that I'm a feminist.

http://onecatperperson.blogspot.com/http://www.anyotherwedding.com/

I nearly didn't mention it here, even though it's International Women's Day, because I'm surrounded by so many incredible people who work toward gender equality everyday, through their thoughts, words, and actions.  I know women who are supporting their male partners emotionally and financially, men who help make things better for women every day, and maybe my favorite, women who help raise other women up.  All around me, I see proof of equality, and people who are working to make the world a more compassionate, easier-to-live-in place.  And I want to say how grateful I am for every one of you.  A person like me could not have survived in a different time, and I'm keenly aware of how many people have made it possible for me to not only survive, but actually move forward and exist in exactly the way I want to while doing so.  I'm so thankful for the opportunity to do so.  I'm a feminist because of every one of you.

And so, maybe I would have mentioned that here, because it's a nice thing to do, and it works well with my Gratituesday trope.  But there's another reason, many other reasons, why I think I need to draw attention to it.  The first is that I live in a bubble.  Even my most conservative friends are sex-positive, and I know a lot of people who have no qualms about letting everyone know they're a feminist.  But, in thinking about it, I do have a lot of acquaintances who've said they don't self-identify as a feminist  or who claim to be "girls who hate girls."  And there's a whole world of people out there who don't understand what it means to say that, that it really and truly is saying they don't believe in equality.  I'm a feminist because they're wrong, and because they can come be feminists with me any time they want.

Outside of my acquaintances, who are all really good people and only a little misguided here, there's an entire world of people who want to take away my rights as a human being because I don't have a penis.  Thousands of people want to take away my right to health care, to make decisions about my own body, to work outside the home, to not be battered inside it.  They want to continue the tradition of cutting women off from access, power, and opportunity.  If this isn't alarming y  I'm a feminist because it just isn't alright that I, and my mother and sister, and my friends, and millions of women across the globe have to live in a world where this is considered acceptable and normal, and carve out lives despite it.

And most of all, I'm a feminist because even with all the obstacles against us, women have done so many amazing things and continue to do amazing things everyday.  So, no matter who already knew it, I just want to say, I'm a feminist with a million other identities, and I'm proud of that.

“In Her Own Words: In Celebration of International Women’s Day 2011″ was created to share and celebrate the experiences of women from many walks of life. All day Tuesday, March 8th Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person will feature posts written by a collective of intelligent, passionate and opinionated women bloggers from the United States and the United Kingdom. The conversation begins here, but it does not have to end here. We encourage you to comment and create dialogue as well as visit their respective blogs. Be sure to stop by Any Other Wedding and One Cat Per Person throughout the day to read all of the posts in the series. For more information about International Women’s Day, visit http://www.internationalwomensday.com/.
Banner: Joshua Gomby

Monday, March 7, 2011

Weekend Wanderings: The Deluge

Friday night, I crowd-sourced a dessert option for dinner on Saturday (oh my goodness, I love Twitter), and Alyssa was kind enough to suggest dulce de leche brownies.  After eating an amazing chicken parmigiana that my sister made (she doesn't cook often, but she's so good at it when she does), I started work on the brownies.  I've wanted to make dulce de leche since I'd heard how you make it (boiling condensed milk in the can), but was always afraid of something going horribly wrong and losing an eye when the can explodes.  This recipe lets you safely bake it in the oven, and oh my word, it's delicious.  Too tired to continue (I'm working on the "staying up late to get work done" bit), I went to sleep pretty early and set my alarm even earlier to get everything done the next morning.
Roger dropping me off before book club. Seagulls on ice-flows!

The rest of the recipe was very easy, and resulted in extremely rich, sweet chocolate brownies.  I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9x13 pan, and they were the perfect height.  I'd highly recommend it for a fun, rich dessert.  Or, just eat the dulce de leche straight from the pan.  That's also delicious.  Dessert done, I headed into the city for my very first APW Book Club.  We had a small group (or, rather, a small group of us got together in the back, and unbeknownst to us, a larger group had gathered in the front - oops), and the discussion lasted for several hours, which was wonderful.  I'm so into gatherings of women talking about womanhood.  Obviously.  I'm already excited for the next meet-up!  I would never have thought I'd be the sort of person to take a risk and meet new people like that, so I'm really proud of myself for doing it.  I headed back upstate, and went to New Jersey for some chicken Provencal.  My coworker and fellow SLC-grad Christina had Roger and me over for dinner with another former-OUP friend (coincidentally, the one who first told me how to make dulce de leche), which was really lovely.  I was amazed at how quickly the time flew while we were all together.

Minding my business, working on my huge new laptop...
Sunday was mostly low-key, with some studying and writing and phone-calling, followed by dinner with Roger's family at a really, really good Chinese food place, Golden House.  I've eaten there countless times before, so I'm not sure exactly what changed, but oh my goodness, it was amazing.  Easily the best General Tso's Tofu I've ever had, with perfectly cooked broccoli. 
Makeshift Flood Avoider
Then, as Carlea and I were working on our paper,  I heard a sudden rush of water, and my kitchen was flooded.  Needless to say, nothing further was done on the paper, and we spent the better part of last night freezing and soaked trying to divert water.  We eventually rigged up some sheet metal, a plastic bin, and a water-pump, but the ordeal went on until 1:30am.  It's all fine now, but I think we're all a little tired and sore from the experience.  And now, I think I deserve some nice new towels.

Friday, March 4, 2011

{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.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

World of Wonder: Outside Magazine's Top Trips of 2011

So, it's sort of a cop-out to post someone else's article for this week's World of Wonder, especially when I haven't done one in earnest in over a month, but I just read Outside Magazine's "2011 Trips of the Year" and oh my god, they're amazing.  I think my favorite is the three-week, three-country, three-climb trip to Africa.  Climbing three 16k+ mountains in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda sounds like just about the coolest thing ever.  (Can we not talk about the politics of these types of trips? Yes? Thanks!)  Some other amazing ones?  Tahiti, Mongolia, and Greenland.  Or, you know, any of them.


Gosh, this makes my dream of going to Northern California look downright silly!  The only issue with these are the price-tags.  Starting at around $2,000 and going up to $13,000, without airfare, they're not cheap.  I'll either need to start saving stat, or get a rich patron to fund my trips "for writing purposes."  Anyway, there you have it.  Ten whole worlds of wonder ... chosen by someone else.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Life List Accomplished: No. 21, Be Given a Surprise Party

Me & My Champagne. We don't suspect a thing!
So, this weekend, Roger proved that he is the greatest guy ever, and helped make one of my life list goals happen – he threw me a surprise party! Guys, this is something I’ve wanted for ages, and for my quadranscentennial birthday, which was yesterday, he made it reality, after weeks of planning behind my back. If you know how nosy I am, you know what skill he has that I never found out, or even suspected anything.


My sister & me.
On Friday evening, I went for a work happy hour in a building that was once New York City’s first brothel. I headed home early, and fell asleep nearly immediately, expecting Saturday evening to go similarly. When I woke up, I’d originally hoped to get my nails done, but ended up being compulsive about cleaning. Turns out, when you are not usually compulsive about cleaning and your vacuum is not a dyson, there are no limits to the dust streaks you can create. These dust streaks led to even further cleaning, which led to Roger and I watching HGTV for two hours before more cleaning. Then, right as I was getting dressed to go to fancy dinner with Roger and my parents, his coworker “called” and he had to go in to work. Another testament to how sneaky Roger is: it was his coworkers birthday, and I kept yelling “Tell her I say happy birthday! Tell her I say happy birthday!” while he was talking, and he was just as irritated as if she was actually on the phone. She wasn’t, because she waited too long to call, and Roger got nervous and made up the whole call. Then, she called 10 minutes later and left him a voicemail that said, “God, you can’t even pick up when you make me fake call you in to work?”

My parents.
So, too tired to really feel the full extent of my anger that Roger was skipping my birthday dinner to go to the museum, I got dressed and headed over to the Red Hat with my parents and sister. The restaurant is very nice, and I bet I’d really love their rooftop bar in the summer. The appetizers (pan-fried gnocchi with vegetables and butternut squash jus, and goat cheese cake with Yukon gold potatoes), the drinks (elderflower liquor with champagne and an orange peel), and the dessert (coconut milk bread pudding with mango sorbet) were better than my entrĂ©e (salmon with braised lentils and mashed potatoes), but everything was good. I’d definitely go back in the summer for drinks and nibbles.

We headed back home, and I was starting to feel both exhausted and angry at Roger for missing the great meal (it is one of the sad facts of our life that he misses lots of the good meals I’ve had). He’d texted my sister (my phone battery conveniently died that morning) to say that he was waiting at home, and so when I walked in to my darkened living room, I wasn’t terrified to find that I wasn’t alone. I was mostly just confused as to why there were so many faces staring at me from the dark. When they all jumped out and yelled “Surprise!” I sort of realized what was happening, although not really, which is the strange thing about surprises – they really are.

Once I saw everything around me, I was just overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing people in my life. Nearly all of the nearly 20 people in the room had come from over an hour away, and several had come from distances much further – friends from DC, Maine, Upstate New York, all well over 4 hours away, just to see me on my birthday. The only thing about the party that was less than perfect is that I couldn’t spend the entire time with each of them individually. Everything else was just ideal – fresh flowers, candles, catered food, a bartender (our awesome friend Katie), and time spent with the greatest people I know.

I love birthday cakes!
I don’t know if I can convey how happy it made me to see all these people from different parts of my life in one room. I’ve said so many times before that one of the great tragedies of adulthood is that all of your friends fan out around the world, and they’ll never all be in one spot again, they way they were in pre-school. Hometown friends move to their college towns, college friends move to their hometowns, and everyone separates. Sure, I still talk to my closest friends from Sarah Lawrence at least a few times a week, but I hadn’t seen Sarah since this summer. That’s a long time to go without seeing someone you lived with for five years. I honestly didn’t think I would see so many people I love in one room again for a long, long time, and although I know Roger was upset that I didn’t cry when I walked in, I did tear up a little when I hugged Sarah and Leah, and in front of 20 people, that’s basically being a bawling mess for an average person. The rest of the evening went really well, with much eating, drinking, and foozeball playing, and ended all too soon as most people went to their respective homes, most saying that I couldn’t be mad at Roger again for a long time. As though I am ever mad at Roger!

Magnolia cupcakes for the win!
The next morning, our overnight guests, minus my cousin Jennifer who had to leave early to teach a lesson, gathered at the Mohegan Diner for a goodbye brunch. I was glad to have the extra time with them, and brunch was perfect, because brunch is something I do a lot with all of the people who happened to stay over. Roger headed to the museum, and we headed back to my house to pack everyone up. While I was making doggie bags for Dave and Leah, Erica called and just threw the weekend over the moon. Monday, my actual birthday, was celebrated with Chinese food, cupcakes, and gift-opening. I can’t think of a more perfect weekend to ring in 25. Compared with how I was feeling this time last year, my life has come a million miles, and I really do know now how lucky I am. To everyone who has made this birthday, this year, incredible - every one of the dozens of people sending birthday wishes on facebook and twitter, all of the amazing friends who came to the party, and each of the wonderful people who put up with me on a daily basis - thank you.  It means so much more than you know.

Now, to start on my 25th birthday goals – learn to French braid my hair, wear high heels everyday for a week, start riding my bike more often, eat healthier.