Thursday, December 31, 2009

Salt in Your Pocket

Año Nuevo is huge here. Right now the number of people in the city is in the process of doubling, creating traffic scenes that look daunting even to a native Bostonian. They say that the fireworks display at midnight (or apparently somewhere around then, Chileans aren't so bothered by punctuality) is one of the biggest and most impressive in the world. Although I can stay out pretty late by New York standards (I'm no stranger to six am), the party here apparently goes until eight or nine. When Maca and Caro told me this I nearly moved to show them the gray hair I found this summer. I feel old and tired just thinking about it.

In addition to fireworks and dancing and drinking on the crowded streets, the celebration of New Years here involves lots of traditions. As Nike pointed out it seems to be the opposite of what we're used to, Christmas is no big deal and New Year's has lots of significance. All of the traditions have to do with luck in the New Year. They range from familiar to deeply strange.

Yellow Underpants No one has mentioned why exactly, but it appears to be very important to wear yellow underpants on New Years. The street vendors have had stacks of them laid out on blankets all week. Judging by the styles I saw for sale, it seems that the tradition applies mostly to women. Although perhaps gents also don lacy thongs to celebrate.

Eat Lentils You're supposed to eat lentils without salt before midnight. Apparently this will bring wealth in the New Year. Conveniently lentils are one the foods I can afford, so it couldn't hurt to try... Do you think cooking them with sausage would be cheating?

Walk Around the Block With a Suitcase This is supposed to make all your travel dreams come true. It seems like it could be sort of goofy looking.

Eat Twelve Grapes Apparently this tradition originated in Spain. No one seems to be sure why, but it might have started with a royal proclamation intended to help the grape industry. Sounds a bit hard to believe, but ultimately pretty simple.

Put Salt in Your Pocket In your left, front pocket to be exact. I didn't quite understand why. But no other pocket will do.

Hug Someone of the Opposite Sex at Midnight This seems similar to kissing someone you want to be with for the rest of the year at midnight. It doesn't seem to have the same romantic connotations. For example, I am hoping to hug a six month old baby at midnight. I really like babies.

So I'll be sure to let you know how it goes. I'm going to nap now. It looks like I have a long night ahead of me. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Emergency Update!

Another mailman just came to my building (without the package)! It wasn't Soto, the guy I met this morning! Have I been lead astray? Was this all an elaborate hoax to steal the hooded sweatshirt and tampons my mother sent me?? Does anyone know anything about the Chilean mail system?

Complaints: International Mail Infrastructure

Yesterday Nike and I went to inquire after packages we had been expecting for some time. My mother told me the USPS records show a delivery attempt was made on the 23rd. The gentleman working told us there was absolutely nothing he could do and that only a postman could answer delivery questions. It seems like the postman is individually responsible for all mail items. It makes me wonder what qualifies someone for such tremendous responsibilities. People send really important things in the mail. Like contracts and birth certificates and tax returns and bridesmaid dresses (I'm working on it Leila!). My postman is available for inquires between 8 and 10 am.

So this morning I woke up bright and early to see him. I went with the tracking number for the package and the information listed on the USPS website. According to them, two attempts were made, at 2:50pm and 11:16pm. The idea that someone in any country would deliver mail so late at night is suspect. But everyone at the post office assured me it was absolutely impossible in Chile. There must be some mistake. Furthermore, there is no record of a package with that tracking number ever arriving in the Chilean mail system. A gentleman carefully explained that as soon as customs clears a package it is scanned into the system. So if they had it, the computer would show it. He very kindly told me that anything so important to me was important to them too. And then he gave me his phone number, you know, in case I had any questions. Or whatever.

So I went home feeling reassured that at least thieves and villains weren't absconding with my mail. And then I dialed the customer service number for the USPS. After ten minutes of muzak (which is not improved by the poor sound quality of Skype, btw) I finally got through to a person. She proceeded to read me the information from the website. When I asked if they might have used another service, she said it is the US Postal Service policy to use local post offices. Her computer said the delivery attempts were made and so the package must be here. Nothing more to be done.

I'm sure that computerizing systems has made mail delivery exceptionally more reliable, fast and inexpensive. But I do feel that this experience highlights a shortcoming of automated services. The computer is always right. Even if there are two computer systems and they don't say the same thing. Obviously one computer is wrong. But policy does not allow for such a possibility. And all I can do is sit in South America and wait. But when it comes, I'm totally going to bake my mailman a cake. And I'll tell him not to share it with the lady at USPS.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Things I Don't Understand About Christmas in Chile

1) The weather- Ok. I understand this intellectually. That the earth is on an axis that moves and sometimes the bottom of the planet is closer to the sun and the top is farther away. But today is December 24. I woke up this morning and put on jeans, a t-shirt and sunscreen. And the strangest thing is that they don't even try to adapt it. There are machines that blow fake snow in the department stores. If you get this message in time, please send snow and mistletoe.

2) Pascua- According to sources as varied as my high school Spanish text book and Wikipedia, Pascua means Easter. But apparently it also means Christmas. Santa Claus is Viejo Pascuero. I've asked lots of people how and why they came to call Christmas Easter, and I've never received a satisfying response. It just is. Nothing about the etymology of the word or the history of the celebration seems to justify using Pascua to refer to the birth of Christ. If someone could shed some light on this mystery I'd be much obliged.

3)Bagpipes- Maybe it's a strange coincidence but some guy around the corner has been playing "Amazing Grace" on a bagpipe the whole damn day. I don't know what holiday that is appropriate for (Veteran's Day?) but it's certainly not Christmas. Quit it, dude. You're only making things more confusing.

Anyway, I hope you all have very merry christmases or at least happy days today and tomorrow. And that you're warm and with people you love. I'm going to go make ceviche and a peach tart. One nice thing is that I don't have to eat ham.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Disturbing Trends: Juvenile Public Urination

Cultural differences are always hard to understand. That's what makes them interesting. That's also sort of what makes this blog interesting. But I feel like there is a universal expectation of parents that they are instilling positive habits in their children. Toothbrushing. Vegetable consumption. Respect for the law and basic public hygiene. But sometimes that just doesn't seem to be the case. No fewer than four times now I have seen mothers helping their young children pee against walls. None of the children were more than six years old. Everyone can understand that bladder control is newer and more difficult at that age. But urinating against the wall of a business hardly seems like a responsible solution. I witnessed these events not in tucked-away alleys or side-streets, but in plazas, pedestrian malls and major thoroughfares. Just today I saw the most recent example at 2:30 in the afternoon in the middle of the financial district of the city. No one expects these children to have perfect control of their bladders, but really? Public urination is illegal is not just because of puritanical expectations of modesty. It just isn't hygienic to have human waste on the sidewalks. I am hoping I have just noticed a large number of aberrations. That this isn't a commonly accepted phenomenon. Though if it is perhaps it explains the drunk man who continued to cat-call at me while urinating on the building next door to mine last week.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chilean Election Primer

So this Sunday is election day in Chile. Officials at all levels of government from municipal to federal will be selected. Of course, the presidential contest is the most closely watched of these races. This round of voting has four major front runners. If no one wins a majority there will be a run-off between the two candidates with the highest percentages. Most people seem to expect a run-off. This election is particularly interesting because for the first time since the military dictatorship ended in 1990, a candidate from the right is likely to win. The incumbent, Michelle Bachelet, is pretty popular right now but has decided not to seek another term. Neither of the candidates from her party have been able to parlay her popularity into real momentum. In ascending order of polling numbers the four major candidates are:

Arrate: Jorge Arrate is the candidate for the communist party. He held a position (economic adviser of some sort) in the government of Salvador Allende. He seems to have the most interesting, liberal policies. Pretty much everyone I know who plans to vote plans to vote for him. They also all seem confident that he will only take about 12%. Since most of what I know about candidates I infer from the campaign signs that litter EVERY intersection in the city, Arrate has an appealing, Mark Twain-like style. I dig him.

Enríquez-Ominami: As far as I can tell, Marco Enríquez-Ominami's most distinctive qualification is that he is sort of a babe. He's thirty-six years old and has very little experience to recommend him, except that his dad was a popular figure in leftist politics. I get the feeling that a candidate like Ominami would get a lot of flack in the US for being a spoiler. He's not going to win, and it seems like he's only splitting the centrist vote. Because technically there is a coalition system in Chile rather than a strict bipartisan system this isn't exactly true. Ominami has the endorsement of four parties. Practically speaking, this run seems more like an attempt to set a foundation for future national campaigns. But for now, we can all enjoy his super-shiny hair and dazzlingly white smile.

Frei: Eduardo Frei seems like sort of a wet blanket. I mean, dude is never smiling in his campaign photos. What's more, he has already been president and ran into some problems with corruption. It's a bit puzzling that he would win the candidacy at all. But he too is the progeny of a figure in the Chilean left. His father was president before Allende in the late 60's. He's become something of a martyr since it was recently proved that Pinochet had him slowly poisoned to death. The major problem with Frei the second is that everyone thinks his government will simply perpetuate the status quo. People are pretty concerned about the state of health care and education here (public schools were closed for more than a month due to a strike this year). Many people care more about change than they do about the potential policies that will be implemented. You could see it as a twisted turn in the world-wide, Obama-ist change movement.

Piñera: Is currently leading all polls. Sadly because he's a total neoliberal. Additionally he is the richest man in the country. Which is always sort of suspect (remember how Steve Forbes always seemed vaguely unreliable?). The final creep-factor for Piñera is that he is highly involved with Opus Dei. Opus Dei seems to have quite a lot of power in Chile and often comes up when discussing right-wing politics. Generally I nod knowingly during such conversations, when in reality everything I know about Opus Dei I learned from The da Vinci Code. So if (and, it sadly seems, when) he wins he'll probably move to privatize health care further and implement even more voucher programs for schools (or the Chilean equivalent of vouchers which seem to subsidize private schools with public money). And we all know how great those ideas work.... Sigh.

Election Policy: Certainly every democratic system has its short-comings. There are two particularly strange policies concerning elections in Chile.

-First of all, if you are registered to vote, it is illegal not to. Unless you can prove to the police that you were sick or more than 300kms from your poling place you must pay a fine. People have told me this discourages them from registering. While I understand that the idea is to underscore the importance of the democratic process, this just seems a little backwards. If I'm not mistaken, this law has been overturned and this is the last affected election.

-Secondly, it is illegal to drink the night before the election. Apparently all the bars are closed. This sort of cramps my style since I unwittingly planned a margarita-soaked, Mexican dinner party for tomorrow night. I hope I don't get arrested.

I'm sure I'm grossly over-simplifying and over-editorializing here. Even after two months it's hard to fully understand the structure and history of politics in Chile. Anyhow, it will be interesting to watch how things go. I don't think Piñera has enough votes to avoid a run-off, but people seem more and more certain of his eventual success. I'll be sure to keep you all posted.

Monday, November 30, 2009


So even though it's pretty much always sunny with highs in the seventies, Thanksgiving was last week. The Southern Hemisphere continues to confuse me. To celebrate I cooked the traditional meal for pretty much everyone I know here. I was expecting seven and ended up with ten (eleven for dessert). I also feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment at having done it all by myself. The hardest part was tracking down all the necessary components. For example, although there are Chilean cranberry farms, there are virtually no cranberry products for sale. Also, fresh herbs (besides parsley) apparently won't be available until around Christmas time. Needless to say finding a whole turkey was not possible. But! I documented the whole process and, at the risk of boring all of you, this is how I did it:

I was going to need chicken broth for the stuffing and the gravy. The grocery store had condensed cans of Campbell's soup and cubes of mono-sodium-ized bullion. So I had to make my own stock. The kitchen is not equipped with many storage containers so I ended up pouring the stock into an empty bottle that once held a grapefruit flavored seltzer drink. I think the twinge of citrus the broth leeched from the plastic really added to the complexity of flavor.

So after searching high and low, I was only able to find dried cranberries and a bottle of the most expensive cranberry juice cocktail of all time. I decided to cook these down with frozen raspberries, some red wine and apple chunks. In the end I added quite a bit of orange zest to accomplish tartness. It wasn't cranberry sauce. But it was pretty tasty.

I have been so spoiled having a Cuisinart for the last two years. Cutting together pie dough by hand is tedious and tiring. I was glad that shortening is readily available here though. And it's made with animal fat rather than just vegetable oil so it's extra delicious.

I did a sort of loose conversion of my mother's ratios for crust into metric. And then I realized that I don't even have metric measuring cups and eye-balled the whole thing. I might have skimped on the flour a little, but ultimately it's hard to complain about a crust being too buttery.

I guess I've made more gorgeous pies. I'll have to practice more.

So it's a chicken, not a turkey. And I trussed it with dental floss (for a hint of mint). But there wasn't a single bit left. So I must have done something right.

We didn't have knives for people to cut the meat. Wine was mostly drunk from mugs. We even had to improvise a seat with the propane tank from the stove and a board... But it fits nicely with the spirit of the holiday to have people from six different countries come together over a meal.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Film Festival Fail

So I led you all on. I told you there would be theater and film reviews all week and all I gave you was silence. I'm so sorry. But, in my defense, I have had some pretty bad luck with the Film Festival. Infrastructure seems to be an issue for festival facilities as well. Every single thing I have tried to see has been thwarted in some way. There have been bad tapes, bad projections, cancellation due to electricity issues (that would be the container festival) and tonight just a lame, unspecific explanation that they didn't have the film. The gentleman who explained the film's absence (at length without saying anything exactly) kindly showed his own film instead. I do not exaggerate when I say that it was the worst film of all time. Aesthetically on par with films from the Fast Forward Teen Program I was in during tenth grade. The sound of each fork scraping a plate rang out like a bell, but the dialogue might as well have been delivered through a pillow. And the plot. Well it was about a family and business and probably lots of things. But mostly the director seemed interested in the incest aspects of the story. The plot line seemed to surface without any particular explanation and was so graphically depicted that I think it would be more accurate to just call it sister fucking. Pardon. We stayed for about thirty minutes and then just had to leave. In an effort to make sure that the director knew how awful his work was, my friend tried to make as much noise leaving as possible.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Theater and Film Week!

So I totally missed writing yesterday. Sigh. I guess I won't win the chocolate covered MacBook, or whatever they were giving as a prize (a chocolate covered MacBook, for those in the generous mood this gift-giving season, would be sublime).

But as an update of sorts, yesterday was the first day of the Festival Theatro de Containers. My roommates and I went to see a Catalonian aerial dance troupe perform in the middle of the largest square in the city on four giant shipping containers stacked one on top of the other. It was pretty rad. Unfortunately the non-aerial aspect of the performance was a half-hearted clowning gestault. As a caveat, I am completely unable to see theatrical performances without being incredibly critical (this also applies to movies, fashion and architecture, improbably).

In addition to the Container Festival, there is also an international film festival in Viña del Mar this weekend (Viña is Valparaíso's sister city). So I am going try to see at least (!) one performance or film every day. I have several willing accomplices in this effort, so I think it shouldn't be hard. And! You lucky readers will get to hear all of my very strong opinions! Think of it as an early Christmas gift.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I am not really sure if this counts as not forgetting to blog. Since it is technically Saturday now. It's sort of a weird arbitrary thing. Dates start at midnight. Years too. A minute and you're a year older. I feel sort of attached to dates. I sometimes test my memory and try to remember really specific details of what I was doing on a certain date in years past. What I was wearing or what I ate. Usually I can only remember specific days. If I'm playing the memory game with March 3, for instance, I will probably do better because that's my very first best friend's birthday. And the date still tends to protrude a bit even though I haven't seen her in years. And of course some days stick out so much that they sort of loom in the distance beforehand. And sometimes one significant date is replaced by another thing that happens on that day.

I've been thinking a lot about this time a year ago lately. And how much it changed the direction in which I was headed. I feel certain that I made the right decisions, took the signs to mean the right things. But I often wonder what if things had happened differently. Right now I would probably be in Law School, thinking about things in past Novembers like going to the Cloisters with Ryan and Alex or that time I accidentally burnt a mouse in the toaster oven. And I'd probably read some friend's blog about moving to a completely different place and feel jealous and maybe a little trapped. It's strange to have moments where you can see your decisions stacked up behind you. Piled around the giant, immobile facts of events beyond your control.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Complaints: Plumbing Infrastructure

All things considered I am feeling pretty good about where I am so far with this crazy project. I am learning tons of Spanish. I have an apartment. I'm making friends. There are some things that just drive me insane about life here. Plumbing is very high on that list.

1) It is unheard of, as far as I can tell, to have hot water in bathroom sinks. Public restrooms and private homes alike. Not to be a typical American germophobe, but they do serve a purpose. My wasteful expectations of boundless hot water aside, it seems a fairly simple pleasure: splashing warm water on one's face, rinsing off the grime of the city. In terms of hand washing, I rely much more on soap, which is drying out my skin. Because I'm a pampered princess, basically.

2) The hot water that is available in my apartment (in the kitchen and the shower) is extremely limited. If I were the kind of person who used Gilbert and Sullivan patter songs as measuring units for her life, I would say that the Lord Chancellor would not reach the description of his dream in the duration of a hot shower here. 90 seconds. Max. It's deeply demoralizing.

3) This is going to come as a shock to all of you, but you are cannot flush toilet paper here. At all. There are small wastebaskets next to each toilet for used tissues. For the first week it was distressing and vaguely mortifying. I am mostly used to it now, but each time the basket is full and I have to bring it down to the street I experience a wave of physical revulsion. It adds dimension of desperation to the sanitation worker's strike which has been ongoing for the last two weeks.

4) My toilet might be older than my father. The age of the plumbing is apparently responsible for the above mentioned general infrastructure problem, but my particular device is truly a relic. Water never completely stops running into the tank. In order to avoid exorbitant water bills and quite a bit of noise I have to turn the water on and off waiting for the tank to fill each time I want to flush. It's really only a problem when I need to be somewhere and can't take the two minutes. I often find myself using the bathroom immediately upon arriving at places.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lost and Found

I have been reading this book since I left the States. It's a series of essays with a heavy emphasis on memoir and art and cultural history, all about the concept of being lost. I have found it almost viscerally poignant to my current experience at times. I haven't picked it up in over a week now. Partially because I find it difficult to read in English when I am concentrating on learning Spanish so much. Partially because I hate the sadness of finishing books I really like.

Today I used an ATM on my way to the grocery store and thought that the cash that I withdrew fell out of my pocket somewhere on my way home. I looked in every pocket, the bathroom, my shopping bags. I was so annoyed/frustrated/upset about what amounted to carelessness on my part. But then my roommate found the cash on the kitchen floor. The relief of finding something I though was lost was such a wonderful sensation. Even something unemotional like money (an amount that will have very little long term consequence, anyway). It was like a really nice surprise. There may even be something about the feeling that's similar to falling in love. Or at least a fraction of it. Finding something that really belongs to you that you had been living without.

I constructed an inventory of things I have lost over the years that I really miss. About seventy-five percent of them are winter outerwear (that blue hat from tenth grade, a pair of my grandmother's gloves, the perfect street-pashmina, etc) and the rest are single earrings. None of them is worth nearly as much as the cash I misplaced today. Probably not even all of them collectively. But if, through some strange tidal flow of the universe, any of those things were to come back to me the elation I'd feel would be exponentially greater. I even have a box full of mate-less, former favorite earrings awaiting that unlikely turn of events.

Maybe the lesson here is that I care far too much about material things. That objects shouldn't hold such emotional worth for me. Everything should be dispensable. But it could also mean that, despite all evidence to the contrary, I might want to fall in love again.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Night at the Cinema

This evening Nike and I went to a film club screening. The movie, The Grin Without a Cat, was in French and the subtitles were in Spanish so I spent much of the time confused. Especially since we both thought we were going to see this visually rich, surrealist Czech film (which I had already seen, but thought would be fun to see again). Anyway, besides an extended exercise in comprehension, it was a sort of fascinating look at a subculture here. Well, subculture might be to strong a word for six middle-aged, leftist film buffs. Since I understood approximately every seventh word, I was relying heavily on audience reaction, gesture and tone to follow the post film chat. But I was definitely picking up some, "Oh no he didn't say that about Chris Marker!" kind of facial expressions. The film itself (which I have since learned is something of a classic, in the scope of documentaries dealing with the failures of the left in the late sixties) relied more on voice over than a non-fluent viewer would hope. But I really enjoyed the spectacle of the event itself: in a basement screening room of a university building, the strange blend of men with graying hair and film students, the guy sitting next to me with a Che Guevara pin and a paperback copy of a Balzac book... It was familiar but completely different.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Currying Flavor

So the Chilean diet has some quirks. Or maybe it has absolutely no quirks at all. The food here is definitely not bad. But it's certainly different and not in a particularly exciting way. I like the two national street foods: giant, calzone-like empanadas and completos, which are hot dogs covered in avocado, tomato and mayonnaise. But generally the intensity of flavor around here is pretty low. Culinarily, the most exciting thing is being able to buy a kilogram of strawberries and two perfect avocados for about two dollars. Many can attest to my abiding love for strawberry-avocado salads, but like anything, one gets sick of them after a while. Especially when one is consuming strawberries by the kilo to avoid spoilage.

So today I decided to branch out a bit and make a curry. I wouldn't say that curry is a staple of my repertoire, but I feel comfortable making it. The nice thing about curry is you can make it with anything as long as you can find curry powder (or paste, but they don't even have milk in the refrigerated section of the grocery store here). When I began my adventure I wasn't sure I'd be able to find the powder. But sure enough, it was on the shelf in the international section of the grocery store, tucked behind some soy sauce. I also bought the brownest looking rice (it was not actually brown rice), some chicken legs (easy) and a can of what I thought was coconut milk. It was actually coconut cream, unfortunately. Which turned out to be really delicious and I ate some spread on a piece of bread as dessert.

Veggies were of course no problem. Cauliflower, strangely awesome potatoes, carrots, peppers... my roommate even had a ginger root stashed in the freezer she let me use (thanks, Nike!). So the curry was coming along nicely. My other roommate demonstrated the completely foreign can opener (thanks, Rodrigo!- It actually seems to just be a blade you use to cut open cans). I sort of just added gobs of coconut cream and lots of water where I would normally use coconut milk. And honestly it wasn't bad. The curry powder had a nice kick. It was definitely better than the curry powder I bought from the bodega on fourth avenue in Park Slope. All in all, I think I'll be able to figure out how to approximate all the varieties of foods I have been missing. Maybe next I'll try chili. Because puns make things more delicious.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


So in case you haven't picked up on this, I am making a go at National Blog Posting Month. I am sort of challenging myself to write more substantive things here and use my tumblr for my one-offs... But after a full day of bike riding yesterday and a full day of walking in the sun today, I'm afraid I don't have a ton of energy. And tomorrow my super-expensive Spanish classes begin at nine am so I need to get to bed pretty much now. According to the rules of the school there will not be more than five people in my class tomorrow. Which is a pretty small first impression to make. But the standard first day of school anxiety is still creeping in. Will I make friends? Will everyone else be muchmuch better at Spanish than me? What if I make some crazy pronunciation faux pas (like the time I tried to ask the dishwasher at Aroma for the "vasos" but said something more like "besos")? The "what to wear?" questions are not so pressing since wearing anything other than jeans and a t-shirt here garners far more unwanted attention than its worth. But, you know, which t-shirt??

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Life on Mars

Today my friend Jaime took me to Reñaca* to teach me how to rock climb. We walked down a rocky gulch into a sort of chasm by the sea. Even about twenty feet away from the opening, I could see dots of sea spray on my sunglasses. I'm not a geologist, but the rocks were completely fascinating. Boulders in a standard grayish color (limestone? granite?) were interspersed with deep black ones. Like a lava had flown between the rocks and cooled as it reached the sea. Even though we didn't get there until after five the sun was incredibly bright. The glaring difference between shadow and sun gives the afternoons here an almost extra-terrestrial intensity. Like how you hear about temperature differences on the surface of the moon. The sun, the wind, the ocean, the ache in my arms and legs from the exertion... it was just a completely singular experience.

*According to Google Maps, the route we took today was 18.3 km each way. We went on bike, so I am pretty much ready to collapse right now.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Call Me

I have a Chilean cell phone. I bought it solely based on price and ended up with a package intended for children. It came with a tiny t-shirt, stickers, a bracelet, a notebook and a lanyard. It also came with 50 text messages and about $20 in credit. So that should last me a while. Especially considering that I simply don't have anyone to call. Coupled with the fact that I signed up for a Spanish class today, I am feeling pretty productive.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Theft and loss

When I was about five my mother's purse was stolen. It was carelessness, as I remember it. She left it on the front seat of the car which was parked next to the soccer field where I was playing. I might have forgotten to lock the door. They found the purse a day or so later, dumped in a mailbox without any money in it. I remember a conversation between my parents about canceling a Mastercard.

Later that year the family station wagon was stolen. It was parked outside our elementary school. Something about the way the story was told made me imagine that it was used as a getaway car in a bank heist. In retrospect it probably was not a bank heist (in Roxbury, in the late '80s). But it was gone and along with it a particularly special blanket with trucks on it. The blanket was of course irreplaceable. The hassle of replacing a car that my parents experienced (insurance, police) did not affect me in any way. Only the new smelling, silver Ford Taurus that replaced it held any interest at all. In the end, the car theft was no great blight on my childhood.

During my first year in New York, my credit card and bank card were stolen from my wallet. I realized the theft the next morning when I received a call from my credit card company about a strange number of purchases made in Jersey City the day before. Nothing was really lost though. It was the sort of fictitious money that exists in banks and gets spent with checks and swipes. I filed reports with the police, the bank, the credit card company. I made statements. I talked to officers. I identified the likely time of the theft. The money was back in its virtual place before it was missed. Someone got $125 in socks from my credit card company, but all it cost me was a temporary annoyance.

When I moved to Valparaíso I had read a lot about petty crime here. One day last week two men stopped me on the street unprovoked and told me to be careful. I think I must have been looking particularly gringa-ish that day, wearing a skirt and boots. People around here talk about theft all the time. The people living at the hostel all had stories or stories of friends- cameras ripped from hands, cell phones taken at knife point. It's an expectation. A sort of mistrust everyone has of everyone else. It's hard to explain really. It's not a hostile feeling. Just sort of sad.

I guess I was bound to see it eventually. Today my roommate was robbed while we were walking down the street together. A kid, who looked about eleven, grabbed her bag and ran down the hill. She yelled and threw a coffee cup at him and ran after. And then eventually, I yelled and ran after. But my shoe came off and I had to make my way more slowly. The police came. And witnesses said various things. A report was filed. Ultimately not so much was lost. Money. Things of personal significance. And I think she feels those losses now in ways that won't be as important in time. I am surprised really at how much it affected me. That invasion of personal space. The almost violent moment when he grabbed the bag. The paralyzed feeling right after. There are worse things. Many many worse things. Knives or guns could have been involved. It could have been a group of people rather than one kid. In time it will just be a small trauma. A little reminder that even in the glaring sun, it's not always safe.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Teach Yourself Spanish

So despite the fact that I took Spanish classes for four years during high school, my language skills now (in a Spanish speaking country, nine years later) are pretty inadequate. For the last two weeks I have been getting by on my patented method of simple words and phrases accompanied by gestures and lots of smiling. To give you an idea of how much language this really involves, I am also able to communicate this way in French and German speaking countries. And I did not study those languages, even at a high school level. With patient collaborators, I have had several real conversations (with verbs and predicates and occasional subjunctives) in Spanish. Meals, drinks, a card game... But generally improving my level of language proficiency is the goal of my life right now.

I am strongly considering taking some intensive classes starting next week to get my grammar into shape, but I have also created a rigorous course of personal study:

-Write out the entire conjugations of two irregular verbs each day. It's easy to chose these verbs because whenever I am speaking in Spanish I have to stop to conjugate them.

-Write down every word looked up each day (at least ten). I never actually write down all of them. It's rarely convenient to pull out a notebook and take a minute to write something down in the middle of a conversation.

-Speak in Spanish whenever possible. Obviously. But sometimes it feels so much easier, knowing that the person I'm speaking with also speaks English, to resort back. No. That is totally against the rules. (This is a rule I break every day)

-Read something, at least one entire thing, in Spanish everyday. Sometimes it's an article or internet news story. Sometimes it's a poem. This just focuses me on comprehension.

-Reread all notes everyday. Usually in bed before I go to sleep I look through the conjugation tables and the vocab lists and try to find them in my brain again. So far they're usually there somewhere.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Valparaíso en la Tarde

I went for a walk in the late afternoon today. The sun was brighter than it ever gets in New York or Boston. But when walking on the shady streets my hands were stiff from the cold. At the top of the hill the added persistence of the wind made it impossible to stand still on most of the narrow, shadowy streets. But every so often I found a perfect spot, exposed to the sun but sheltered from the wind, where I could feel that it was almost summer.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Truth About Food/Love

So honestly, I think I haven't been eating enough. It's not conscious or purposeful it's just that eating is sort of depressing alone. And cooking is even more so. My mother might fly down to Chile on the wings of concern when she reads this, but I am just sort of always hungry and never want to eat.

I think most of you can attest to the fact that I have a pretty good appetite. I love food and always have. But even though I have been cooking for myself for years now, I really hate cooking for one. And the pleasure of a meal- a glass of wine, the fruits of an hour's labor, the beginning/end/pause of a day that meals represent- are just lacking on ones own. It's slightly better to eat alone in a restaurant. There's a formality that's comforting. There are people at least. Waiters, a cook definitely. But honestly I am not on the kind of budget that can afford restaurant meals often. So it looks like I'll have to find a boyfriend.

I guess it's sort of awful. I feel like generally I am in a very single state of mind. Woe-betide the man who I'll ensnare in my macaroni and cheese net, for surely I am far too selfish at this point in my life to regard another's feelings gently. But at least he'll be well fed. We both will.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

New Digs

Yesterday I moved into my first real apartment in Valparaíso. And eventhough I was anticipating feeling lonely after leaving the hostel, I really have no idea what to do with so much time to myself. The apartment does not have working internet yet, so I am writing from a cafe. My room is about five feet by fourteen feet with its own tiny bathroom at one end. One of my roommates described it as "austere" (she's German...) which sort of gives you an idea. Fitting with the general level of color saturation, the walls of my bedroom are a robin's egg blue, the kitchen is yellow (the best color for kitchen, probably) and the dining room/common area is a sort of orangey-terra cotta color. Currently it is Sunday and a religious holiday so most stores aren't open. Which is sort of annoying since I am missing some key elements in my living space (a mirror of any kind, for example). The cold, grey-ish weather we've been having this weekend has been a little tough on my moods.

So this week I am going to begin the search for a job in earnest. Which will probably look something like me walking into places and stammering fragments of sentences in Spanish, smiling, leaving my resume and never hearing from anyone. I think I'll have to get a cell phone here in order to effectively find work. Especially if my lack of Internet continues. It's been sort of nice to be without one these two weeks. I also really only know about six people in this entire country, so I really don't need to call people very often. But maybe it would make me feel more connected...

This blog post has been a sort of fascinating exploration of the Chilean keyboard for me. I don't think of myself as being the greatest typist, but move things around and I am completely hopeless. Additionally there is no "undo typing" option on the edit menu, so when I accidentally erased the whole post with an unknown key command, I had to start from scratch. I wonder if there is some sort of universal keyboard that people in multi-lingual countries use (can you imagine what a South African or Indian keyboard would look like? They have so many official languages!)...

So I hope everyone had a very happy Halloween. Yesterday when I was grocery shopping I saw a couple of older ladies wearing brightly colored witch hats, but that was about the extent of the celebration here. There was also a drunk fruit vendor heckling all such women and calling them natural witches. Which was funny and sort of surreal.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fashion Questions: Blue Glasses

So, inevitably, each country has its own fashion sense. In Chile I have noticed that women rarely wear skirts and that men tend to have longer hair. While I like to wear skirts and often find ponytails on men vaguely disgusting, I accept that I will have to adjust to these new terms. What I find most puzzling, however is the apparent trend of bright blue plastic eyeglass frames. On men. Both my potential new roommate and the owner of the hostel wear them. And I have seen several other pairs in passing on the street. This isn't your typical geek-chic, giant, coke-bottle type frame either. The small rectangular design implies that the guiding fashion principal is not irony, but a belief that it looks cool. I wonder if some super-hot, intellectual character in a Chilean film sported azure frames? For me it is a style most reminiscent of my sixth grade teacher Ms. Cohen who had reading glasses to match each of her brightly printed tunic tops. Glasses which she readily admitted to purchasing at Building 19. And though ultimately I'm sure I'll adapt to this fashion like any other at the moment I can't help but feel a bit disappointed that vision trends here is are not more on the cutting edge.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rose Reviews: Diet Leche Culturada, Sabor Ciruela

So fans of this blog's archives (or long time readers) might remember my reviews of Dutch food stuffs from my time in the Netherlands. Good news! My trip to the grocery store today yielded my first Chilean food product for review. It is worth noting that Chile gets sort of a bad wrap for its cuisine. As far as I can tell that is because it lacks the intensity of flavor of it's neighbors (mostly in terms of spiciness of seasoning). But when compared to Dutch cuisine, the culinary living is easy down in this hemisphere. I mean there is just so much affordable, fresh seafood and produce. Desserts and drinks tend to be a bit sweeter than I like them, but really there's very little to complain about.

Unfortunately that assessment does not extent to packaged and processed foods. When deciding to make the purchase in question I knew I was being adventurous. It seems that yogurt here tends to come in pourable jug form more often than spoonable container form. So rather than the Yogurt Batida Sabor Fresa I had tried earlier this week, I decided to branch out a bit and try this fat free, plum flavored, cultured milk. They were right next to one another. The bottles are the same shape. But on the inside... Basically it Leche Culturada has the consistency of milk. But with a vaguely coating, grainy sort of texture. And the flavor! Maybe there was an element of plum there somewhere... but as a person who has been known to consume upwards of twenty stone fruits in the height of the season, this tasted more like prunes mixed with maple syrup. Ugh.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Visting vs. Staying

The first group of friends I made at the hostel left this morning. Although staying in hostels is a great way to meet interesting people, watching them strap on backpacks and head for the bus station made me realize how unusual what I am doing is. Tomorrow I am going to see a room in a student apartment which I am hoping to move into by the end of the week. The excitement of being in a new, unfamiliar place has made me forget that my intention is to make a home of sorts here. Spending time with people traveling around the continent and around the world is fascinating but the focus is always on sights and activities. For me this trip is much more about my personal experience of places and events. I know that when I move out of the hostel there will be fewer people and I will feel lonelier. But that loneliness seems like it will be a necessary step in trip.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Street Art

So Valparaíso has insane street art. It's already one of the most colorful places I have ever seen, but the murals and stencils and graffiti are so vivid and abundant. It's awesome. Here are some photos of my first full day exploring:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

¡Estoy Aquí!

Valparaiso is really so beautiful. The hills put San Francisco to shame. Going down one with a fifty pound suitcase takes a particular skill I have not yet mastered... But the views! And the houses! And those crazy elevators! I've only explored a bit, but it's really beautiful and feels totally different from anywhere else I've ever been.

The voyage really wore me out. It's like jet lag, except my time change is only one hour. So it's just the relief of stress and the exhaustion from traveling and the un-rested feeling one gets from sleeping on airplanes. But all in all I was pretty lucky with my traveling. There were open seats next to me on both of my flights yesterday (especially nice because one was eight and a half hours long). And everyone has been really helpful so far, pointing or repeating things slowly when I look confused. I hope that after a solid night's sleep I'll be prepared to speak Spanish to strangers and write lots of emails introducing myself. For now I am wondering what is the earliest time it is socially acceptable to go to be in a hostel?

I leave you with some photos of my lovely hostel:

Monday, September 28, 2009


I wasn't feeling particularly well that day to begin with. Tuesdays tend to be extremely slow at work and I hadn't slept well the night before. When Rebecca walked in my immediate reaction was panic. I guess that's typically how I feel when separate worlds collide like that. I felt strangely exposed with this girl who I mostly knew from parties years ago standing in the restaurant. Which is especially strange in light of how brutally exposed she always seemed to me. So pale and small. So unabashedly in love with boys who clearly didn't care about her. So uncomfortably idolatrous of our lives. We talked and she still seemed bizarrely overexposed, immediately volunteering how unhappy she was with her job and where she lived. She went on to recall how cool she thought we were four years ago. We ("your crew," she said) had seemed like everything she wanted to be at the time. I feel something close to vertigo trying to imagine how we looked to her, even all this time later. Smoking cigarettes on the windowsills, playing cards, drinking constantly, always dressed deliberately strangely. Four years ago I felt like I knew this city, I had a place, a community maybe.

I felt ashamed. Like I had let her down or something. By becoming this mid-twenties waitress without direction. Who always meant to keep in better touch with that electrically close group of friends. Who hadn't done anything at all cool lately. Who was dressed in black and wearing cheap, conservative stud earrings.

It's weird to be moving away. I am sort of afraid that I have stayed here too long. That a particularly New York brand of cynicism has seeped into my perspective. Looking back on those first two years I can hardly retrace how I ended up here. In Queens, twenty-six, perhaps permanently single. And when I get on that plane, how will all of this New York-ness subside? In what pockets and corners will it store itself? And once I have done it, have realized my purpose, my desires, my self, will I call you all and tell you about it? And we'll laugh and understand each other based on all that time together, all those years ago?

Monday, August 17, 2009

So I was gonna update my blog layout the other day and renew my commitment to writing and probably run a mile or whatever. But instead I made a tumbler. Did anyone notice? It's really lame. And I'm not just not linking. Cause I do know how.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Tonight I went with Jeff to a birthday party on 46th St. and 9th Ave. When we were walking up 8th Avenue from the subway I noticed the glow of the lights from Times Square against the buildings one avenue over. It gave me that sort of strange swell that you get sometimes in places that are so "quintessentially" New York but don't hold any particular meaning. No one experience in the five years I have lived here has been especially connected with the lights in Times Square from one avenue block away. How it's sort of strangely silent for all its activity. In the middle of everything. And part of me started thinking about the strangeness of the idea of the Perseids that might be falling just above the cloud cover that was reflecting all that light back, like a giant stadium canopy. Sometimes I think about the idea that I could have been an amateur astronomer if I hadn't moved to New York. It's one of the stranger things I hold against the city. But I always have a fantasy of packing a picnic and renting a car and driving until the roads are dark and there's a field where I can watch the stars falling from the heavens and think about how human it is to do that. How long people have been amazed at the beauty and spectacle and uncertainty, even now, of having the sky fall.

Monday, July 27, 2009

All you ever brought me was heartache and traffic.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Moving Forward

Am I right in saying that a denim mini-skirt is no longer a wardrobe staple? Both because it's 2009 and because I am about to be 26 and don't really rock the short-short skirt look anymore. Really, what do you think? And do you want it? Or anything else of mine, really?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I am sorry for asking you what your address was. I am sure you thought I was going to send a postcard. I almost definitely won't. I wrote one postcard to my grandmother but I doubt that I'll even get it together to find a stamp to put on it. Berlin is really fantastic. I have found it profoundly relaxing. There's nothing I feel compelled to do. The weather could be better, but being inside isn't so bad anyway. There are lots of nice people here and fun things to do if you want to have fun. I am sorry I am not even really making an effort with this blog post. I'll tell you all about it when I'm back in New York.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Wilcommen, Bienvenue...

So I am in Berlin. I have been here for less than 24 hours and I'm not jet lagged! Yesterday was probably the longest day of my life. It began around 12:30am when they started serving breakfast on the flight into Zurich. I had about four hours to kill there so I walked around the historic downtown area, took some photos and ate some birchenmuseli (super delicious yogurt/fruit/granola combo) and got on another plane to Berlin. Honestly it is so different from what I was expecting so far. Kendra and I mostly walked around Kreuzberg which is the neighborhood next to hers in East Berlin. It's really lovely with lush greenery and lots of old buildings. We lit off sparklers for the fourth of July. And now I slept a pretty normal night and we're going to eat some breakfast and take care of a bike errand and go on a canal tour of the city. Honestly it all seems pretty Dutch to me. Which makes sense, but you know. I'll check in again soon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pushing Through

So I am working on an essay for a job application. I sort of thought essays were just for school applications, but apparently I was lucky enough to select a job that also requires essays. Some of you may recall from my attempts at law school applications that I am not very motivated about writing essays. In fact, it might be said that I am not very motivated about writing at all (if you were to judge by, for instance, how often I update this blog). It's sort of a mystery to me. Because I really do love to words and writing and reading. I don't know if it's just like exercise (something I'm also unmotivated to do) and all one needs to do is get into the practice of doing it. Maybe I just need to push through the awkward sentences that don't lie flat on the page like they do in my head just like I should push through those uphill steps on a run when my legs feel like they're forty pounds heavier than when I started and my lungs tighten up in my chest so my shoulders touch my ears. And if I can't push through this two page essay how am I ever going to write the things I secretly hope to say?

Friday, June 05, 2009

I don't remember this, but is it possible that I don't need as much sleep in the summer time? It was really late when I went to bed last night (like birds singing, gray skies). And yet, I awoke a ten and haven't felt like going back to sleep.

Monday, June 01, 2009

In the Morning....

... I get out of bed and putter through my email, news and Facebook until my eyes and body are awake enough for tasks like washing every single glass in my apartment (thanks for coming to Richard's birthday everyone!). Sometimes there is just so much jarringly dramatic news on the Times homepage that I just don't know how to process it so early. Today, for example:

1) General Motors went bankrupt.

2) A plan carrying 228 people abruptly went missing.

3) An doctor who performs abortions was shot in Kansas (what is this, the early 90's?).

The world can just be so large and scary. And so much less-preferable than bed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I just deleted my MySpace and Friendster profiles. If that's how you've been keeping in touch with me, I am very sorry. Please don't take it personally. But we haven't been in touch for a while anyhow. That is all.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Recipes: Fage

So for a little while now I have been using 2% fat Fage (the Greek yogurt) as a substitute for creamy fatty things that would turn a normal meal into a serious undertaking of cholesterol (mayo, sour cream, ice cream, creme fraiche, etc.). It's great in dips and dressings especially, I find. I have recently developed two delicious new applications for Fage:

Berry "Sundae"

The other night I really wanted ice cream, but really didn't want to put on pants and shoes and a jacket to walk to 7-11 in the rain. I was working with things I had in the kitchen.

1 cup strawberries
3/4 cup Fage 2%
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
Squeeze bottle of agave nectar (to taste)

Dice the strawberries and put them in a bowl. Grate lemon zest directly onto the strawberries (make sure you spread it out, it's powerful stuff). Top with Fage. Toast the walnuts in a dry skillet for a couple minutes and dice (you can dice then toast and it might be easier). Squeeze agave nectar directly onto berries and yogurt (this is the "fudge" or "caramel" or "strawberry syrup" element, so don't be stingy). Top the whole thing with toasted nuts.

This was sort of a small meal-sized portion. You could play with ratios but I liked that there were chunks of berry and nut in every bite. Richard and I shared by passing the bowl back and forth, but if you find it's more civilized to split it into two portions that could be nice too. I would be very interested to try variations on the type of nut and berry used.


I have long felt that adding avocado is a sure way to turn any sandwich into a luxury (this might not be true of a fluffernutter which is already sort of a luxury). When applied to the already scrumptious BLT, this fatty fruit has a sort of transcendent affect. It can, however, compound the already complicated structural challenges of this sandwich. But no longer. In this application the yogurt allows the avocado to act as an adhesive. It also replaces the mayonnaise (though you could certainly add mayo if you like).

2 pieces of your favorite sandwich bread, toasted
3 or 4 pieces of bacon, fried to desired crispiness
1/2 tomato, sliced thin
several leaves of baby spinach
1/4+ of a ripe avocado, diced
1/4 cup of Fage 2%

Mash the avocado into the yogurt with a fork. Chunks are not a problem, but you don't want them to be too big. Add salt and mix in to taste. Spread on one side of each slice of bread. Assemble sandwich with remaining ingredients (I will not presume to prescribe whether your bacon touches your tomato, spinach or both). Enjoy!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


"Dowd: Put Aside Logic

Can we Kling On to our newspapers in the galactic age?"

This was the tag for Maureen Dowd's column today. It appeared next to a photo of Barack Obama, the president of the United States, photoshopped to look like a Vulcan. On The New York Times homepage.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Sixteen Years Later, A Shout-out to the Klutz Braids and Bows Book*...

This is actually how I'm wearing my hair today.

*Remember when every girl got that book for her ninth birthday? (Eight birthday? It's sort of a blur)

Sunday, May 03, 2009

If I Had a Twitter Account...

... it would probably constantly say things like, "is Donald Sutherland really the father in Pride and Prejudice?* So be thankful.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


If you're reading this you probably know that I am not very consistent with posting on this blog lately. The truth is my life is somewhat sedate (or at least static) right now. However! There are a couple things on the horizon which you can look forward to reading about on EPE. Should everything go as planned, this blog will resume its initial function as a mechanism of keeping in touch around September. I will once again set off for distant lands. It's likely that I don't do a very good job keeping in touch with you now, but while abroad I expect to feel lonely and isolated at least some of the time at the beginning and I'm sure I'll be eager to reach out to all of you.

What (you may be asking) is the occasion for this adventure? Well, I guess I'm just feeling sort of bored (see above comments about sedation and stasis). So I have enrolled in a course to become certified to teach English as a foreign language. Hopefully I will find a job by the end of the summer in time to jet of to some Latin American location. I really don't know what country I'll be going to or how long I'll be there. Like I said, it's an adventure.

Prior to that I'll be taking a short trip to Berlin at the beginning of July. If anyone in Europe is reading this and wants to plan a meeting, let me know! I will be planning to update while there to practice for my longer adventure at the end of the summer.

SO while this is a pretty lame, perfunctory post, the not-so-distant future holds oodles of posts employing my signature observational wit and knack for unflattering photography.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Night Hunters

Around September my building got a new Super. Generally it's been a seamless transition. The most notable change has been that notes posted on the front door regarding proper recycling procedures are typed rather than sharpied onto yellow post-its. Until Saturday. On Saturday I awoke (far, far too early) and looked out the window next to my bed to see this:

EEK!! There is a huge, menacing owl on my fire escape! In the daylight! Surely it's a portent of doom!

No. After rubbing my eyes a bit and allowing rational thought to seep through the visceral fear, I saw that the owl was made of a plaster-like substance. It seems that in an effort to frighten the gaggle of pigeons (do pigeons flock? roost?) which lives on the telephone line behind my apartment building (and subsequently shits on every imaginable surface along the back of the property), my Super has installed a parliament (thanks!) of owls on the fire escapes and fences overlooking the offending cable. Which should be fine. I don't like the shit or the menacing sound of wings flapping against my window panes. But these are really scary-looking bird effigies. Let's take a closer look:

It's not so much that they are realistic facsimiles of actual owls. It's more that they are truly evil looking. If I were a pigeon, I would head for the hills. The actual pigeons are not so smart. They titter away on the phone line in spite of the dozen or so predators peering down at them. I am not so peaceful. Mostly I keep the curtains drawn tight to avoid the sight of them. But when falling asleep at night I sometimes imagine the hunkered silhouette of that stoic bird of prey illuminated against the curtain. Wild visions of those orange plastic eyes, lit by some internal, diabolical light play on the backs of my eyelids. I sometimes wonder whether this isn't some manifestation of a personal vendetta the super has for me. Were those Christmas cookies I baked dry? Does he think I am not separating my paper recycling properly?

The only thing to do is carry on with drawn shades. Hoping that when he sees the pigeons have remained he'll remove those monstrous forms. And my dreams will once again be my own.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sign of the Times

So my dad has a tendency to give some very random gifts. It's almost like he gets flustered in the middle of shopping by how many girl-y things he is expected to buy (for my mother, sister, me...) and just grabs at jewelry and small electronic items (flash drives really are excellent stocking stuffers though!). Anyhow, this year he got me this bottle of champagne:

Which is actually really nice, not because of my love for the Dutch designers Viktor and Rolf, but because I really love champagne and feel an intrinsic connection with rose (imagine the accent, please) especially due to my name* (which my father also gave me, so it's sort of all just a big circle). The point is that my dad, of all people, fell for the bizarre marketing of a bottle held upside-down in a plexi-glass box. To add more confusion to the matter, the box is not even a perfect rectangle! It tapers at the bottleneck end, making it impossible to wrap! And my father is obsessed with gift wrapping!** All of this brings me to the point: although I have had this bottle of champagne in my fridge since christmas, I have never felt like there was reason enough to drink it. Clearly, when I am not able to find a reason to drink champagne in nearly two and a half months, I (and the world at large, perhaps) suffer from a general malaise.

*Contrary to common wisdom, there are many rose-like things that I enjoy and don't find at all cliche (accent, again) as gifts. Rose champagne, roses themselves, these are all great gifts!

** My father has pieces of paper he uses to wrap christmas gifts that are fourteen years old. One year he challenged himself to use as few pieces of scotch tape as possible. He actually wrapped a fairly large gift using only the adhesive from a stick-on bow!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Haiku for the Season

daylight savings time
at four it feels like it's three
at five it is five

Monday, March 02, 2009

Is my inability to form meaningful goals the cause or merely a symptom of the fact that I am currently flipping between reruns of How I Met Your Mother and Star Trek: The Next Generation? And maybe also the fact that this sort of thing happens often.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"At this point, male readers may want to go outside and toss a ball around for a while. No matter how sympathetic, how curious or how deeply interested in life’s little yuck factors* you are, this collection is unlikely to hold more than the mildest intellectual appeal for you. But it is hard to imagine any woman, from the most straitlaced and body-denying to the most uninhibited and body-embracing, who will not read right through it with pure enjoyment, small flashes of recognition and the urge to buy it for every female preteen in sight."

-some lame NYT book review.

Seriously, it's about fucking time everyone- man, women, kids on the playground (well they're ok, I guess)- to just stop being so damn squeamish about menstruation. It's part of everyone's life in one way or another. And there is no better reason than naive fear that no one will admit that it's sort of fascinating. That it is a biological mechanism that essentially allows women three-quarters of the time of their fertile lives having sex for pleasure. We are fascinating beings!

*That's a female reviewer referring to the subject of menstruation as a "yuck factor." In my opinion, rotting feces left un-flushed in a toilet for days is a "yuck factor." Menstruation is something that is CONSTANTLY HAPPENING EVERYWHERE.