Monthly Archives: December 2010

The Particular Sadness of Blue Jeans

Otherwise known as that feeling of tragic inevitability when your favorite pair of jeans gives up the ghost.

For some reason, mine never tear at the knees, where I might acceptably patch them up and continue wearing them (well, acceptably in the ’90s, anyway. It’s a little more debatable now, I guess, and also now that I am 25 and not 15…but I could wear them on the weekends?).

There’s a sweet moment in time when a pair of jeans becomes perfectly worn and comfortable, like a second skin (or third skin, if you’re wearing leggings underneath because it’s 19 degrees out). But then…tragedy strikes. And you have to figure out if it’s worth it to try to sew them up, or if you should upgrade your second-favorite pair of jeans to “favorite” status now, or – worst case scenario – you have to begin the hunt all over again. And NO ONE I know likes shopping for jeans.

Well, old jeans, thank you for making it nearly to the end of 2010. You won’t be forgotten. (Truth: I still remember previous favorite pairs of jeans. Paris Blues in high school, a pair that began with an “L” – l.e.i? levi? – that I got at a thrift store in college and only very recently and reluctantly threw out, after having patched the various holes with scrap fabric.)

I’m going to do ALL of us a favor and not go on a rant about people who buy jeans that already have holes in them, “distressed” jeans or whatever they are marketed as…it certainly is distressing, is all I will say about that. Actually, no. I will say that in order for jeans to achieve that truly “worn” look, you have to WEAR THEM. It’s like those pre-“weathered” baseball hats they sell now, or “vintage” t-shirts that are already practically see-through, when everyone knows if you want a shirt to look that way for real you have to have had it for ten or fifteen years already and worn it to picnics and the gym and to sleep and around the house and to paint the house and to wash the car and to go sledding in, basically ALL THE TIME, and only THEN does it become perfectly worn, because you’ve worn it. And then two weeks later it gets a hole at the neck or under the arm and you have to start all over again with a different t-shirt…

Argh. All of a sudden Snuggies make more sense. Let’s all just wear blankets and bathrobes and call it a day.

What I’m reading: The Patterns of Paper Monsters, Emma Rathbone
What I’m listening to: Horses, Patti Smith

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Dinner Table Magic Trick

I will definitely come up with something better than this (depending on your definition of “better,” of course) before the end of the day, but just to get the ball rolling…

What you see here is a balancing act accomplished with a drinking glass, a toothpick, a spoon, and a fork.

I’m sure some kind of non-magical explanation exists, something involving balance and leverage and gravity and whatnot, but you can go ahead and search the internet for a scientific explanation if you want one. See, I’m encouraging self-reliance (like Emerson!) and resourcefulness. Or else, if you can explain this phenomenon, just leave it in the comments.

What I’m reading: The Patterns of Paper Monsters, Emma Rathbone
What I’m listening to: the theme music from Wallace & Gromit has been stuck in my head for the past few days, alternating with the Danish “Happy Birthday” song.

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Lincoln Center at night

Before taking off for California, I stopped in New York, because (a) that’s where the flight was taking off from, and (b) a couple of dear friends/old roommates and I have a tradition of going to see the Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center. It’s almost exactly the same every year, and we sit ridiculously high up in the nosebleed seats, and yet…we keep going. (And vowing that one of these years we’ll be sitting in the good seats. Or at least second or third ring.) What can I say? We find the Candy Canes irresistible.

No pictures of the ballet itself, of course (strictly verboten!), but there aren’t rules (that I know of) against taking pictures of the tree, or the chandelier(s), or the fountain.

And there are definitely no rules against taking pictures of the moon.

A few days later, on Christmas, I went to see the movie Black Swan, which is also about ballet, and a great deal of it takes place at Lincoln Center. The Nutcracker is as shiny-happy, feel-good (minus the bit about the many-headed Mouse King), and Christmasy as Black Swan is dark and unpredictable; it makes a lot of sense that director of Black Swan also directed Requiem for a Dream. Unlike many movies billed as “psychological thrillers,” however, this one was not all full of plot holes, though it did leave some elements (what is real, what is in the character’s head) up to audience interpretation. Beautiful, and incredibly well-acted – but not a sugarplum to be found.

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While the East Coast was being blizzarded…

The sun came out in Southern California just in time for our visit. (Contrary to popular belief, it is not sunny all 365 days of the year there. For a few weeks in the wintertime it rains on and off. This is called “bad weather” and few people venture outside.)

So while a massive snowstorm was getting ready to hurl itself all over every state between (and including) Maine and Georgia, we were taking a pleasant walk on the beach.

Admittedly, the water was far too cold for swimming, and one’s feet got so chilled that one had to stand in a bathtub of warm water before one could feel one’s toes again. However…

It was worth it.

There was even a rainbow (you can see it faintly below).

December 23, ladies and gents.

End of the sunset series.

More California photos to come!

What I’ve been reading: The Conspirators’ Cookbook, Century Downing; Bel Canto, Ann Patchett; The Giver, Lois Lowry
What I’ve been listening to: Tim, The Replacements; The Hour of the Bewilderbeast, Badly Drawn Boy

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Snow!

Finally – snow!

And more snow.

Just in time for holiday travel. Yay!

What I’m reading: Skippy Dies, Paul Murray; The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde
What I’m listening to: Exile on Main Street, the Rolling Stones

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Couscous Salad

Why is it so much better than pasta salad? The world may never know. It’s really quick and easy to make, though, because couscous doesn’t take as long as pasta to cook. I use the Near East brand couscous in a box (usually the roasted garlic & olive oil one).

Bring the water, olive oil, and contents of “spice sack” to a boil, then remove from heat, add couscous, and cover; the couscous is ready in five minutes! Then just fluff with a fork and toss into the rest of the salad (see below).

The cast of characters (i.e. ingredients) includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Tomatoes
Cucumber
Red Onion
Bell Pepper
Carrots
Radishes
Fresh parsley and/or mint, chopped finely
Crumbled feta cheese
Whole cashews

Chop the fruit (tomatoes are a fruit!) and vegetables into uniform, bite-size pieces; I start with the tomato, cucumber, and red onion, so I can toss them together in a bowl with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar and let them begin to marinate a bit. Then add in the other vegetables.

Once all the veggies are added, toss in the couscous – it’s okay if it’s still warm. Sprinkle some feta and cashews over each serving (I don’t mix them into the rest of the salad because I like for the cashews to be crunchy).

This refrigerates well for several days and is as tasty cold as it is warm. Enjoy!

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Hello to you too

This is what happens…

…when he helps in the kitchen.

What I’m reading: Skippy Dies, Paul Murray
What I’m listening to: Achtung Baby, U2

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