Sunday, November 28, 2004

Holiday recap.

Things went well, I think. The food was delicious, the company was enjoyable, and the heat is working.

In addition to my aforementioned planned dishes, Margot made a cranberry sauce with pomegranate seeds, fresh orange juice and sections, fresh ginger, and cinnamon. It was very interesting and tasty with the halibut. My mom ended up preparing the potatoes since we had about three dishes getting whipped up in a frenzy to serve warm, and they were damn tasty. The the little white buttercream potatoes worked well with the vegan sour cream and chives, mmm.

My attempt at modifying the recipe for aromatic vegetables so they would be roasted seemed to work well: I toasted any whole spice seeds (cumin, coriander, and peppercorn, in my case), then crushed in a mortar bowl, then cooked with the minced onion, olive oil, cinnamon stick, and pre-ground spices in a big pot before adding the chopped vegetables, stirring to cover, and removing from the heat. Then I put them all in a foil-lined 9x13" cake pan, covered with another layer of foil, and roasted at 450'F for probably 40 minutes or so, until things seemed cooked. The fresh herbs were added just before serving. I didn't use potato or chickpeas, but it seemed like a pretty good side dish this way.

My mom met both Kevin's parents and they seemed to get along. We offered the beach house to Kevin's family for a couple days after Christmas, since it sounds like his sister wants them all to come to Portland.

Yesterday, mom and I went to the Winchester Mystery House, at her request, and did the full estate tour. It was pretty cool, though mom said she felt like David Sedaris when he was visiting the Anne Frank house: that all this cool stuff was going to waste, and how could she get ahold of it to use. Kevin took my brother mini-golfing, hee. We all then visited a used bookstore, Streetlight Records, and got Ethiopian for dinner before taking them to the airport. I was impressed that my brother even consented to trying Ethiopian food, although he couldn't finish because the kofti was too spicy for him.

Today, I am meeting my sister in Mountain View so she can go to Target and Ikea on the way up to the city, where I will then help drive some of her things that are hard to hand-carry seven blocks to her new place.

I need coffee.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Something to be truly thankful for.

I got a job! And it's a real job, not a retail-crappy-I-need-the-income job! That uses skills/interests cultivated in BOTH my college majors! Holy freakin' cow!

I am supposed to start Tuesday. The company and the people seem cool, and I think I will like the job. It will be part-time for awhile (probably through January, I am told) for training and evaluation, then go full-time. Benefits 90 days after full-time employment and a raise from the part-time wage.

I'm assuming some semblance of discretion is appropriate for employment, even though my full name is plastered all over this site, but I'll keep that kind of info on the down-low. Everyone knew about my lab job at school, sure, but whaaatever. I will say that it is a job in quality assurance at a market research firm, and my commute looks to be about 25-30 minutes each way. Public transit is probably not a reasonable option, but the freeway exit is the same as my favorite grocery haunts.

Okay, back to cleaning and DAMN am I hungry. Hooray for Chinese leftovers. Mmm, Szechuan-style faux chicken...

Friday, November 19, 2004

The FedEx guy thinks I'm married.

Or he's just presumptuous when it comes to messy handwriting.

Yesterday, Kevin received a package for which I had to sign. An hour after that, Kevin called me to ask why I'd signed for the package as "E. George."

I protested, of course, because I didn't sign it with anything other than my name, the driver--or whoever enters those things into the computer--must have assumed that my squiggly surname matched his typed one. "C" is about the only truly legible part of the word, and it's close enough to "G," I guess.

His manager overheard his end of the phone conversation, and started asking him about it, so he reiterated, and the manager found it hilarious. Some other coworkers overheard that, and so he had to tell it again, and they, too, found it hilarious, suggesting that I was planning to propose on Thanksgiving and that was why I did all this family finagling. Which is absurd! Not to mention I have no intention of changing my last name if I ever get married, anyway.

I know it was a joke to them, it just bothers me for some reason. You all know I'm not good at taking that kind of ribbing, for some reason, even though I know it's in jest. Maybe it's the thought that people would latch onto such petty misrepresentations I can't control that bother me to the point that I start in on futile damage control.

But today I made the effort to write my last name clearly. We'll see if it works.


It's been brought to my attention that I've grown lax in my swearing. This post-election haze has made me soft. I started out yelling, but just got hoarse.

I promise, though, that the swears and welling up in my throat all the time. It's just grown increasingly pointless to voice them.

And seriously, all I have to talk about is how stupid TV is and what food I'm obsessing over, which doesn't always require a lot of swearing.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Fahrenheit 210: The Temperature at which Bread Bakes.

Oh, you people. I've been all Suzy Homemaker for a few days with my urgent plea sitting there, and nothing.

No, really, it's fine. I'm not hurt.

I did, however, attempt to bake some crusty bread, which ended up a little heavy in the crust department and a little short in the baked-all-the-way-through department. No matter, it was a valiant first attempt. It LOOKED like good bread. Currently, I have a sourdough starter working its fermenting, gooey magic on the kitchen counter, so that today or tomorrow I might even start real bread with it. I even got a pizza stone so maybe this time the bread will bake properly. (Metal cookie sheet = no good in the bread world, evidently.)

It probably wouldn't hurt to have an insertable instant-read thermometer, either, or a kitchen that's warm enough for the bread to rise in something approximating the time indicated in the recipe. Maybe the latter is something else's fault, though, I have no idea.

The Thanksgiving menu is complete. I made a shopping list, which I will get into over the weekend. I'll make two pies, one apple and one pumpkin, although they will be hippie pies and of questionable deliciousness. Mom asked me to just get a regular pumpkin pie from the store for my brother, whom she said will eat the whole thing. Good god.

Rounding out the meal, we'll have halibut and an Unturkey, at Kevin's request, in lieu of the traditional turkey, homemade cranberry-orange sauce, aromatic vegetables, barley and wild rice pilaf with pomegranate seeds, herbed smashed potatoes (this month's Cook's Illustrated), a mixed greens salad with sprouts, shredded beets and carrots, a homemade Green Goddess dressing (from Steven Raichlen's High Flavor, Low Fat Vegetarian Cooking), and marinated mushrooms (also Cook's), and bread, either homemade, storebought, or both, depending on what happens. We're going for healthy, delicious, and ridiculously vegan-friendly. (But never fear, Paul, you will find stuff to eat, plus I got you some fancy burger patties, a can of chili, and I always have boxes of mac and cheese!)

Clearly, I put far too much time, energy, and thought into this already, but I want it to be good.

Still hoping Margot will have Monday evening free to attend the Gossip/Jon Spencer Blues Explosion show with me. That would be rad. Speaking of rad, the Wilco show last weekend was great. Our seats were crappy, but the band sure wasn't.

Um, and I had another decent job interview, but you all know where good job interviews have left me thus far.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Please write for me!

Okay, so I've been talking on and off about starting a zine for a few years now, and my friend Aron is once again kicking my ass to get to work. He wants to design, I want to edit. And we need you.

The project will be online at first, with the possibility of print in the future when all involved are less broke. Besides, we'd like to see what we can do without having the added pressure of paying for and distributing physical copies.

Here are a couple themes and deadlines. Meditate on these and e-mail me, leave a comment, whatever. I'd love to hear from you.

The New Depression: Dec. 13
It's a cold, cold world out there, but sometimes our sudden rebirth as responsible adults inspires us to higher things. Sometimes...not so much. So, since it's a topic that's weighed so heavily on my mind lately, I want to read about how people made the leap from cozy, comfy college student to productive member of society. Or how they're not making the leap, or the process of learning the jump in the first place.

Story ideas here include: the painful process of the job hunt; eating on the cheap (beyond ramen); something that happened to you which forced you to "grow up" very quickly; the music, the people, the whatever that got you through; the reality of post-college.

First Loves: Jan. 19
Was it love at first sight? The first time you locked eyes with that stuffed gorilla, you were in your pajamas, he was sitting under the Christmas tree, and the din of "Jingle Bells" drowned out the joyful shrieks of your siblings. How old were you when you felt that kind of love again? Or maybe there's been no one since Charlie Sheen (tm Josie). We can feel passionate about a lot of things besides boys or girls. What's your best story on the subject?

Story ideas include: your first musical love; your favorite food; the myriad first attractions (crush, boyfriend, kiss, etc.); your passion in life, your first broken heart/failure.

The stories can be creative non-fiction, essays, short stories, illustrated stories or comics, or captioned photos. I'm not big on poetry, so please none of that. You can include illustrations, recipes, reviews, whatever if it makes sense.

Pleeeease write for me! I would really like something fun to put together! If you want further ideas, just ask! Thanks!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Further proof I was the worst journalism major ever:

I am pissed that today is a not-so-slow news day in the Bay Area and all this news crap is breaking and I don't get to watch Cagney and Lacey. Bitches!

They are spending precious minutes talking about a juror on the Scott Peterson case who did independent research, which, they've reminded us now a dozen times, is illegal. They have also shared all kinds of trivia about the woman without identifying her.

Then they are talking about a gas line explosion in Walnut Creek behind a high school. That one is pretty spectacular, but there isn't a whole lot of new information to share. Yes, the pictures do tell the story. The rest of the story seems to beg for a next-day print story for people who want that. Not taking up several minutes of daytime when I could be watching vintage feminist cop drama, dammit!

I am so not a news junkie.

By the way, I got plane tickets home for Christmas. I'll be in and out of Portland on Dec. 22 through the 29th, with a side trip up to Seattle/Olympia on one side of Christmas itself. I want to see people. Let's make plans.

Cut the pie in half.

How is almost half of us voting to change leadership--and, supposedly, numerous things that come along with that--an indication that the lesser half is "out of touch" with Americans?

A win is a win, sure, but it was still pretty close, any way you cut it. Almost half of everybody said, get this fucker out.

And yet...almost. So much in life ends up being a near-miss.

Honestly, I'd rather be "out of touch" than agreeing with everyone I think is wrong. That's not uniting. That's not democracy. That's brainwashing. It's peer pressure, and what did Nancy Reagan tell all us '80s kids about peer pressure?

Before the election, I tried to be reasonable, rational, and able to see both sides. It's hard, you know, when everything you hear from the opposition makes you furious. I tried to see it their way, and I failed, because I think it's the wrong direction for America. It's not the country I learned about in school. It's not the place I want it to be to the rest of the world.

This is bigger than the Democrats and the Republicans. Fuck the parties, seriously. I am not and will never be a true-blue Dem. They don't care about me. And you can say that difference of opinion is what makes America so great, that we can still work together, but the way things are going, I disagree. Not in the sense that I advocate totalitarianism, of course, but in the sense that the two "opinions" are entangled in a war of words, with each step drawing nearer to each other, so close they are virtually indistinguishable but for their fringe crowds.

For America to be great, I have to believe we have more diversity of thought than that.

A President Kerry would have assuaged my concerns enough to smile, while for many Americans, President Bush does the same thing. But in my heart of hearts, I can't believe either one would be better equipped to address the concerns of every American. One has to pick and choose, not for the common good, but for the political benefit. It's the game we all play when we vote.

Reality is never as pretty as dreams. It's sad to have it smeared in my face every election now. It's an imperfect system, run by imperfect people. I have to have the grace to accept that much.

And the energy to work to change what I can.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Boston U reader?

Who are you? Just curious. I love referral logs.

I've calmed down, I promise.

I'm still pissed, naturally, but I'm calmer about it. I mean, what the hell can I do? I've got other, more personal and pressing things to get depressed about.

It's nice and all to see the "don't give up hope!" types, with their lists of what you can do, but it seems like many of them are things one can't do without already having a lot of money. Which, you know, I don't.

On top of the readily apparent woes, I'm starting to realize the rapid approach of Christmas, which means plane tickets, presents, and the birthdays of two people close to me (as well as my own). Goddamn, I need a job...

Kevin has discovered Curb Your Enthusiasm. He failed the yield the title instructions and watched half the episodes in a day, with me trapped by his side. Not that I didn't enjoy the show, of course, but it's painful to watch. It's that gnawing sense of dramatic irony, the knowing he's going to piss everyone off through some miscommunication and end up worse for wear, and having no power to stop it. That can drive me batshit.

But not like zombies, no.

I think some mention of zombies crept into my dreams last night, waking me up and giving me brief pause before I returned to slumber. Stupid zombies.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm going to puke.

I've already cried. I'm wearing all black because I'm in mourning for my hope.

Bush is again speaking on my TV and he will never get off. People are cheering like he's a fucking rock star. Nothing's going to change. They know they won by such a small margin, but it doesn't mean they'll defer to us in the slightest. They've got the White House, they've got the Congress, they'll have the Supreme Court, and they have us by the balls.

How can everything be so, so WRONG?

And people banned gay marriage in 11 states. Fuck you very much. Washington might have a creepy Republican governor by a margin of 1,000 votes. Fuck you guys, too. Fuck the kids who apparently didn't turn out, even though almost everyone I know did. And Kerry--how the fuck did you not win, man? You suck.

I am fucking infuriated right now, and you know why. Probably if you read this regularly, you're infuriated, too.

No, Mr. Bush, you are not regaining my trust, my support, or anything. You're shitting on my country and calling it freedom.

So fucked. Gah. Can't say anything rational.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Disturbing Search Terms of the Week:

"celebrity's vagina." I swear. And I have no idea how that brought someone to my domain.

Pumpkin Fever!

Maybe that's going a little overboard, but these titles, you know? Coming up with a good thing to have in bold, large type at the beginning of every entry is a lot of pressure.

Josie left this morning for L.A. We had fun, though we didn't make it up to San Francisco. She decided the $10+ required for transportation and fun wasn't worth the pain of not being able to walk very well in a city where one really needs to walk, so we hung out around here.

Well, first we checked out an Ethiopian place in San Jose. It was pretty good. Then we went to Safeway and got $5 in Halloween candy and saw some of those annoying noisemaker stuffed animal toy things they sell around this holiday. Some played "Monster Mash." Others, terrifyingly enough, played "Hooked on a Feeling." *shudder*

Then, I don't remember exactly why, we detoured into Campbell to go to Whole Foods. I got a cooking pumpkin and replenished my whole wheat pastry flour and evaporated cane juice (sugar) supplies, which were running low. They are both necessary for pancakes and cookies, and god knows what I'd do without those.

My mom and I are discussing cooking now. Again. As always. She sent me to a recipe for Indian-style aromatic vegetables (how authentic they can be coming from Parade magazine, I wonder, but they sound tasty) and I'm thinking it sounds like an awesome way to have our mixed vegetable dish at Thanksgiving.

My sister is going to veer away from the nasty canned cranberry sauce for the first time ever and make her own fresh cranberry sauce, perhaps spiked with pomegranates. Because Margot and I are obsessed with pomegranates. In fact, I have two pomegranates to bring her from the market down here, where they cost just $1 a pound.

I know. We overplan. But food is important and delicious. We get excited. It's a bonding thing.

Paul, don't worry, we'll still have mashed potatoes and some kind of meat just for you. And bread. And pumpkin pie.

Anyway, Josie and I did Halloween suburb-style: watching movies and waiting for trick-or-treaters. We doled out the two bags of candy by 7:30 and turned off the porch light. We watched all of the horrible (or just horrifying?) Mariah Carey vehicle, Glitter, made some Thai yellow curry with pumpkin and tofu, which turned out well, and popped in Firestarter. We only got partway through when 9 o'clock rolled around and we both wanted to watch Desperate Housewives, like the TV-addicted, unemployed dorks we are. (For the record, however, Josie is much less dorky than me, and probably infinitely more employable.)

Speaking of the pumpkin curry, though, were I to make it again, I'd make butternut squash curry instead. The texture would be preferable.

Anyway, the job search continues this week, and I owe a lot of people cheery e-mails. And, in case the entire universe didn't already remind you, if you're a registered U.S. voter and you didn't already do it, please vote tomorrow. (Subtext: Please vote for Kerry. And Washington voters: Please vote Murray for Senate and Gregoire for Governor. Not that I wear my political leanings on my sleeve or anything.)