Saturday, January 29, 2005

Weekend Update, with your host...

Sorry for the lame SNL reference. I am video-starved since I sent back all three DVDs on Monday and have yet to receive confirmation from Netflix that they've returned. If I don't hear anything by this coming Monday, it's Report A Problem time. How sad.

The Life Aquatic has arrived in the Milpitas second-run theater, and as promised, Kevin will go see it with me. He WILL. Except that he knows Tuesdays are $1.50 days, so that is when he wants to go. Not on the weekend, when we have all day and it's $3.50. Because that is such a financial burden for the pleasure of seeing a film in the theater. Pbbbt. My main problem with Tuesdays is my evenings are already booked solid with all my favorite TV shows (although I must admit Gilmore Girls' merits are waning), but I can tape them/download them if necessary, I guess. It's just stupid.

Oh, and I'm full-time at work now. Yay! I was also wrong, apparently, about when my benefits kick in: it's 90 days after I started working for the company, period. Meaning in March, I can go get my allergies fixed, get all those valuable girly exams, and possibly even make sure my eyes aren't getting significantly worse. So these are all good things. And work is busy, which is also good.

Today I went to McCarthy Ranch, which is a group of giant chain stores near the 880/237 interchange in Milpitas. There's a Borders, Best Buy, Michael's, and motherfucking Wal-Mart. There is also a Loehmann's, where I picked up a simple (not lacy! Hate the lacy!) black Wacoal bra for $25. I am afraid I will still need to go to Macy's or something in hopes of finding one with wider straps because this might not be the best solution, but it's preferable to the shitty Balis that are disintegrating in my underwear drawer. And there's a Ross, where I have bought many things, including a pair of dark gray pants today for under $3 which are quite nice-looking and comfortable. They were on clearance for $9, but rung up for $3. Score!

Speaking of deals, it only cost me $118 to register the Civic here. Astonishing. What's worse, though, is they did not even want to see my proof of insurance or smog pass. My license arrived in the mail, however, and I am bright red and glasses-free in it. Just awful.

Absolutely nothing else is happening. I made some the fragrant coconut milk chickpea stew from this book my mom sent me, A Beautiful Bowl of Soup, and I was so disappointed. It was horribly bland, despite having everything going for it. I'm going to try to fix it today, but god, it was so sad. There were two freaking serrano chilies, chopped up with the seeds and pith and everything, and it was still bland as hell. Sorry, mom. The other thing I made from that book was better (Moroccan carrot-chickpea something, yellow from the turmeric).

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Netflixes of this past week.

Better get up to date. Better keep up with the onslaught of films. Hah.

Last week, we had a bunch of documentaries.

Keep the River On Your Right was pretty interesting, but didn't grab me. Strange, considering it is supposed to be about cannibalism. It wasn't, though, really; it was about an artsy New York anthropologist and artist who spent time among remote tribes, some of whom had cannibalistic rituals.

Dark Days, about the people who lived in shantytowns in the New York train tunnels, was fascinating and eerie, but not as bleak as it could have been, which was good. Although their homes were taken away, many of them were able to resettle themselves in apartments, thanks to the Section 8 program. Pretty affecting stuff, though.

Rivers and Tides I'm finally watching now. I enjoy the photography, but I feel I missed out by not seeing it on a movie screen, where the images could wash over me and envelop my vision space, instead of floating uncomfortably on the periphery on a 13" screen. It's very, very slow, but neat.

I also got the second disc of the first season of Chappelle's Show—having rented the first months ago from Reckless—and of course, it was funny as hell. But anyone who has cable and watched Comedy Central religiously (i.e., everyone I know but me) already knew that.

And because Kevin has been obsessively playing Tron 2.0 for the PC and exclaiming how much it is just like the movie, I rented Tron. Which Kevin liked even more than he remembered and I thought was weird and didn't always follow.

And yes, my car passed the smog check. I am awaiting proof of insurance. I paid more than I wanted to for both, but fuck it.

Emily has a tendency to blow up.

And when Emily gets mad, sometimes she refers to herself in the third person. But mostly she just swears a lot and stomps around.

I would like to detail the retarded little things which are building up to make me an angerball this weekend:

I have a list of errands to run today: smog check ($50, goddamn!), bank (money for smog check and vegetables), farmer's market, gas, post office to pick up the California income tax booklet. After doing these things, I plan on cooking and doing the California taxes by hand, because the online stuff is stupid because I didn't live here all year.

However, these things are all set aside until one other thing can happen: I need to get my parking brake down.

Kevin, when he drives me car like last night, which is sort of an irritating story of its own, sometimes sets the parking brake as high as it will go. I have never set it that high because I didn't realize it actually went that high. The maximum for me is something like two notches below that. And um, when he sets it that high, I can't unset it. It's physically impossible. The first time it happened, I was on my way to work and I had to drag him out of bed to unset it. You can imagine how bitchy I was about this.

So anyway, it's almost 11 a.m., the market closes at 1, and who the hell knows when the smog check place closes (I'm guessing 4). Kevin is, of course, still in bed, despite my shrieking at him. (Who doesn't love waking up to that shit?) So I have to wait and possibly cut out some of the planned errands.

The smog check must be done. I'm going into the DMV Tuesday morning and I have to have proof of insurance and a smog-happy certificate to show them before they'll let me give them an assload of cash in exchange for not getting pulled over for expired tags or something. Smog checks, from what I understand, should run around $30; everything I'm finding, even with coupons, even at test and repair stations (note for people who don't live here: those are supposed to be cheaper than the test onlies. This system is so ridiculous I can't stand it), is at least $40 and most places aren't open Sundays. One place I called answered the phone with fax sounds. So it's down to Mr. $50 Smog Check Place.

And then there's insurance. I hate my quotes. All of them. And the next person to ask me if I've checked Progressive gets a scowl. Because yes, I have, and their rates are the worst and their comparisons are useless. But I will buck up and slap down some money for something, I swear.

Yesterday it took three computers to convince TurboTax that a browser in existence was "compatible" with their software. But that was all done very quickly after that, so I'll live.

Oh, he's up. I'm out.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Self-medicating with fresh local produce.

You know, having basically no friends in this area, a boyfriend who works late, and a job where not much happens makes for a lonely, sad little Emily. This fact has been made readily apparent to me in the last week when, in conjunction with what I can only assume is the nasty thoes of PMS, I cried on two occasions and was sullen and pissy with Kevin and incommunicado with almost everyone else. I'm a lot of fun.

Anyway, I kept trying to think of ways to put this that weren't "woe is me" crap when I realized this is a bunch of "woe is me" crap, which doesn't make it any less legitimate that I'm not feeling very happy, but it's not much fun to read.

I did do one enjoyable thing this week, though. On Tuesday, my sister and I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium of loveliness. No stories, just reporting that something pleasant and different occurred. Pretty drive via Gilroy, cool fish, quality time with the one peer who's known me the longest (I guess that's fair to say).

But, yeah, I'm feeling a little peppier now—after last night, which was a disaster of driving to Downtown San Jose to find an Ethiopian restaurant that doesn't exist and going to bed without dinner, because, again, I'm a lot of fun—having been productive most of the day. I cleaned the kitchen, did dishes, filed my federal income tax return, and did some mad cooking.

Here is what I made. It turned out pretty well. Also, cutting things like onions and spaghetti squash with my big chef's knife? Awesome.

Green Vegetable Soup

1 or more leeks, chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 or more head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 1/2 c. frozen peas
bay leaf
4 c. vegetable broth ("Better than Bouillon" brand comes recommended)
small handful chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Put the leeks, potatoes, and onion in a pot with the broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Add broccoli and peas, boil, simmer another 10 minutes and keep stirring. At this point, if you enjoy pureeing things in a blender or food processor, you can, but I prefer to skip the mess of all that and let the potatoes disintegrate into the broth and have a nice, chunky soup. Add the seasonings shortly before serving.

This recipe comes from The Greatest Ever Vegetarian Cookbook, although I've certainly fudged the details. Oh, and if you didn't notice, there is no oil involved, so this is probably reasonably diet-friendly if your diet is not wretchedly anti-potato. Also, be careful with the salt and the broth, because sometimes the broth can be too salty or totally unsalted.

Spaghetti Squash with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

1 spaghetti squash
1/4 marinated sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
bunch of fresh basil
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
1/8 c. toasted pinenuts
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place them skin-side up in a baking pan with approximately 1/2 c. of water and roast at 350'F for about 40 minutes or until cooked. You should be able to stab a fork in there and, when it's done, turn it over and pick at the flesh with a fork. It should be tender and the strands of squash will come out. This is totally a lot of fun. If you have a big squash, you might want to use only half for this particular dish and play around with the other half.

The pesto is fairly self-explanatory: chop up basil a bit, smash garlic, and put them in a little chopper/blender/mortar bowl with the pinenuts; mince into a pesto-y delight. Put it in a tub you'd like to keep it in, stir in salt and pepper, cover with a little olive oil.

When you have these components ready, toss the squash strands in a bowl with some pesto and the sun-dried tomatoes. It is mild and pretty tasty. Should go well with any number of dishes.


So this week I'm doing the car registration crap, which is going to cost a lot of money and make me sad. Sadder, anyway. But for now, I have food. Yay for food.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Ray and faux-faux ham sandwiches.

Since it's Tuesday, the cheap theater has $1.50 movies all day, and Ray is one of them. And since we're not even close to being bogged down at work, I had the day off, and TV now officially sucks during the day, so... what he hell, right?

It was pretty good, I thought. The ending was overwrought, but the music was naturally fabulous and Jamie Foxx was believable (to my untrained eyes). I liked it. And it was cheap! Cheaper than a rental, and in the theater!

Kevin and I also tried the Vietnamese sandwich place on Abel at Calaveras, which turned out not so good because his "vegetarian ham" was not so vegetarian, in fact. I thought maybe it was just remarkably meat-like faux ham, but no, on closer inspection, it was totally real meat. I gobbled my faux (I hope!) shredded pork up too quickly to offer a share, so I can tell you it was tasty.

An irritated and hungry Kevin later told me he wanted to "boycott" the shop and drop the sandwich remains on their doorstep with a note about vegetarian vs. real ham. I told him that was probably overkill for a $1.75 sandwich.

We also took a misty sunset walk in the Palo Alto Hills area (er, I think; it's a big hill in Palo Alto, anyway), the Monte Bello Open Space. It was lovely, but we didn't have long to walk before it started getting dark. We'll go again sometime, though. The drive up is long and winding roads with plentiful opportunities to drive yourself into a ditch, like one woman we saw.

Anything else? No? Good.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

OK, I liked it.

It wasn't the most super amazingest best deepest movie EVAR, in fact, it wasn't really a movie that required a lot of thought on my part. Thanks to the overhypedness, I could figure out where the non-linear plot was coming from immediately. But I did like it.

I'm still not caught up on movies, though. Need to see The Life Aquatic. Screw the critics. Hope it ends up in the cheap theater.

Once again, my silence speaks volumes.

So now that I've got the house basically settled, the job basically settled, and must have the car things resettled for California purposes by the end of the month, I'm realizing how little outside of those things I have to do, and it makes me have nothing to write about.

There aren't even new episodes of TV shows I can rant about. Nothing.

The only thing happening at work is something that I find quite engrossing, but everyone I've yammered at about it looks extremely bored, so yeah. We are rewriting the QA manual, which was in desperate need of an overhaul. It is a project that allows me to do stuff I'm good at and also emphasize stuff I've learned about the job. Anyway, I'm not bored, so screw you all.

I'm just bored with everything else in life.

Netflix is working beautifully, of course. We finally watched Osama last night, which was very sad but good and not quite as horribly awful to watch as you would imagine. (I mean. It's awful to watch, but it isn't as blatantly violent and terrible as some other movies are.) It made me feel sad on a level that an American movie, even one on the same topic, couldn't approach. No sappiness, no ultraviolence, no scenery chewing, no swelling strings over a montage of overlaid images.

Also watched Garden State the night before, which was pretty good, but not amazing (sorry). I did enjoy it, though. Some good stuff.

Today I have Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which I'm convinced I must make my own mind of BUT the hype and criticism surrounding it will no doubt drown out my ability to make an unbiased impression. So, nuts to all of you who have blathered about the film and nuts to me for being too poor/cheap to go see it before all the talk.

My 8" chef's knife is a thing of beauty, also, if I didn't already mention it. I don't know how I've used those dull monstrosities for so long. I can even sort of chop onions without crying too much (I used to just quarter them and put them in the chopper). Even so, I haven't cooked nearly enough lately. I must get back into the habit.

We did check out two restaurants we'd never been to this weekend. The first was a vegetarian Southern Indian restaurant in Santa Clara, where we gorged ourselves on two platters. Most of it was pretty tasty, although there were a few minor issues. One of them was that, to me, at least, there was simply more food than I could stand to sample without being way too full. But now we know, and if there is a next time, we can order more wisely.

The other was a Thai restaurant on the end of a strip mall here in Milpitas, which was not very good. Kevin is also convinced that the waiter didn't like us or was afraid of us or something. It is in the same strip as an Indian restaurant we have been to that's pretty good, and a Vietnamese sandwich shop with a few tofu-based options we want to try. Vietnamese baguettes are so freakin' cheap, I don't know how we couldn't.

So, there you go. I just blabbed about the two things I always blab about: crap I'm watching and food I'm eating. And now it's time for me to get some breakfast (yes, at 11:30 a.m.) and watch some stuff.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Why it's a good thing I'm going full time this month.

Besides the slight pay raise, guaranteed 40 hours a week, and health care after 90 days, the idiots at KRON stopped the 2 p.m. airings of Cagney & Lacey that were the highlight of my lame TV-watching afternoons.

Does anyone have recommendations for inexpensive but decent quality daypacks and hiking boots? I'm in the market. My budget is under $100 for both items, which I've found at, but I want to shop around and solicit opinions.

Also, if you cared about the lyrics contest... I added the answers to the original post. Scroll away.

Sunday, January 02, 2005


I'm not promising anything, but with the dawning of a new year comes a supposed clean slate. A bed to make. A new opportunity.

Whatever your metaphor, it is the time that people seem to make resolutions, or state goals for the new year. I don't think I had any, per se, last year, beyond "travel." Which I did a little of. I mean, I got my passport stamped a few times, went to a few places that are currently in ruin after the tsunami, crossed off a few more states from the 50, hiked to the top of a mountain, and drove over a few state lines with all my earthly possessions. I traveled from student to working suburban yuppie, and now I'm stagnant. A little older, but maybe not much wiser.

I resolve to get out of debt and be a financially responsible adult. I resolve to continue doing all I can in the choices I make to be environmentally responsible. That includes not rolling my eyes every time Kevin installs a compact fluorescent bulb in my desk lamp. I resolve to do well in my job. I resolve to make friends in this area, but not forget those in Seattle, because fuck, do I miss them.

I resolve to get out of the house more often, for things that don't include grocery shopping, work, and extraneous Target visits. I resolve to visit the places in the Bay Area that make it cool, and try to forget that most of the time I'm surrounded by suburban San Jose drudgery. I resolve to try to like the drudgery more, anyway. I resolve to force Kevin to force me to go for hikes. Maybe even try camping again. But we'll stick to hiking for now, because I've never not enjoyed a hike.

I resolve to cook more often and really work at being excited by the variety of healthy, delicious foods that have the potential of coming out of my kitchen. I resolve to try to grow at least one pot of tomatoes on my back porch, because I fuckin' love tomatoes. Herbs would be nice, too.

I resolve to fix this allergy shit and visit my mom.

And I resolve to get my hair cut so it stops irritating me.


So that contest looks dead. Hello? Anyone?

I don't know. I'm bored as hell and don't have to go to work until Tuesday. Tomorrow, I need to return this mattress pad to Target that I bought, washed, and discovered that the stated care instructions ("Machine wash and dry") were inadequate. The damn thing collected all the lint from its washer load, then the dryer melted the skirt part that holds it to the mattress. What a piece of shit. Got what I paid for, I guess.

Netflix has been good to me so far. I've made an insane queue, including a few with unknown release dates, and will be sending back at least two tomorrow. My mom has requested I review everything I get, preferably in a separate blog, but I think I'll just make notes in here. I don't think I could muster full-on reviews of everything.

But so far I've seen Maria Full of Grace, which was every bit as quality as I was told to expect, and The Office reunion/finale/Christmas special, which was a most satisfying end to that fantastic series.

We did jack shit for New Years Eve, as usual. I was talking to Aja about this: I can recall all NYE events since 1999, at least, and nothing freaking happens. Well, for '99, my then-boyfriend, his brother, and I went to First Night Tacoma, which was pretty fun, but usually, nothing. The past three years, I've greeted the new year with a snore--though last year it was a snore outside Tokyo.

I also haven't cooked much of anything since I've been home, though a vegan pesto made with fresh basil and a bit of nutritional yeast turned out well, and so did the chickpea and spinach soup I made tonight, which was a sort of hummusy soup with potatoes that I quite liked.

And it's raining in California. Like the state is having an identity crisis.