Monday, February 27, 2006

mainly they operate on the distraction principle

Why, when you feel like you have a gorilla sitting on your chest, must you spend ten minutes and use two pairs of scissors to get the damn cold medicine dose out of the fucking packaging??

Not that I am bitter.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

sick and wrong

I'm coming down with something.

I'm still not entirely sure what it will be. All yesterday I was tired, my throat hurt, and I had a vague headache. This morning I woke up and my voice was entirely gone, which often occurs when I'm coming down with a cold, but it had returned by the time I started proctoring in New Hampshire.

This afternoon I'm just tired, although the throat and head are both moderately annoying. Right now, neither one wants to take the lead on actually escalating the stand-off. Neither one wants to take that first step out of the lunar lander, plant a flag in me, and claim me for God and country.

I sort of feel as though I'm a babysitter in the kitchen making macaroni and cheese. I can hear the two siblings upstairs "playing," which really means "coming closer and closer to one shoving the other headfirst into the wall," and I'm half-wondering which one is going to win before I have to go up there and pry them apart.

In any case, I'm Zicam-ing it up and chugging down Vitamin C like there's no tomorrow, even though that regimen sort of makes everything taste like I didn't quite get all the tin foil off my gum. Whatever -- as I learned pre-wedding, it's a great way to lose weight.

(For those readers who are, well, my mother: Just kidding! Really! Absolutely a joke!)

However, I refuse to bail on the plans we made with good friends tonight, so before I head out, I leave you with the most fantastic result ever of a Google image search. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly certain the copy on this product -- contrary, I assume, to the actual purpose -- indicates that the contents want to infect you rather than cure you.

Which, since at least I wouldn't be in "what will hurt next?" limbo, doesn't sound so bad.

Friday, February 24, 2006

i was independent at five, but i'm making up for it now

Is it wrong for a twenty-something to miss her parents?

I think I started feeling it last weekend, at the bridal shower. There were mothers present, and I realized a little more forcefully how infrequently I get to see my folks.

Last year was a bit of an aberration, as I had to make several trips to the island to do wedding-related tasks. Prior to that, well, they lived in Boston for a couple of years, so it wasn't too difficult to cart my tush across the river and have dinner.

I probably should have done it more often. Free food and free parent time is a pretty good deal, particularly when your mom is one of the world's best shoppers. (We make a pretty formidable team.)

Now, though, we don't have any plans to get down south in the foreseeable future. Between our honeymoon and wedding trips, we've used up our available time resources -- plus, let's be honest, the Low Country in, say, July is a bit overwhelmingly humid, particularly for wavy hair used to dry-air central, also known as Our Apartment in Maine.

All right, I'm gonna bite the bullet on my cool factor and put it right out there: I don't enjoy living so far away from my folks, or from Jim's, for that matter. Sure, I put on the brave face, all grown-up and married and what-not. Guess what, like-minded pretend adults?

Yeah, not so much.

I grew up with my maternal grandparents about a five-minute drive away. When we moved, that commute jumped to the ridiculously long twelve minutes or so. I grew up seeing great-aunts and -uncles and second cousins for all major holidays, and by major I include such grandiose excuses to barbecue as Flag Day.

As much as I always wanted to get out of St. Louis, then, I grew accustomed to being near family. Sure, a lot of the family lived in far-off (Indiana) exotic (New Jersey, Rhode Island) places, but we saw them fairly frequently, and the proximity of the St. Louis crew more than made up for any perceived drought. One paternal-side cousin even attended college in town, and as she started when I was a high school sophomore, she was a pretty big presence in my life.

Which reminds me: If you visit Washington University and attend a party at AEPi, don't drink the Blue. Trust me on this.

Anyway, it stands to reason that I don't like being family-free up here. No one is within "Oh, I'll just pop over in a few" distance; even the closest family is a two-hour drive, which requires planning and coordinating and generally rules out spur-of-the-moment dinners. I love the friends we have, but...well, hell. I miss my mommy.

I can only imagine this will get worse when we've got children, so here and now I'm making my plea to the patron saint of real estate: I don't care what it takes, just get me south before you get me pregnant.


why i love my mother

Me: "So how's your weather today?"

Mom: "It's actually, ah, going to be seventy today."

Me: "{strangled cry of pain} That's...nice."

Mom: "But we go away next week, and it's only going to be in the sixties here while we're gone."

Me: "Ah."

Mom, desperately trying to change the subject: "So I've been thinking about what I want to get you for your thirtieth birthday."

Me: "MOM!"

Mom: "I know it's a few years away, but I need to start saving now."

Mothers: They always know how to make you feel better that your weather is crap.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

ready, aim, purchase!

Lest you think my passion for a sale only applies to beauty products...

Lo those many months ago when I was a yet-to-be-married milkwench (or whatever), Elizabeth traveled to Boston to meet me for a wedding-gown fitting and to learn to bustle the train of my dress.

We hadn't seen in each other in far, far too long, so I was thrilled to see her sitting comfortably on one of the intriguingly modern settees in the Vera Wang salon, waiting for me to arrive.

She stood, and she was wearing the most wonderfully fantastic pair of gauchos ever (definition 2, for my readers who aren't quite with me). She looked even more stunning than usual, which is...well, it's a hard feat to pull off.

Sure, the seamstress was expertly crafting the most wonderful white-net confection I could have imagined just for me, but at that moment, I lusted after those pants. I could never borrow hers, as gauchos that fit Elizabeth would most likely fall past my ankles, given her statuesque, er, stature. (I bet she knee-caps me for that comment, but oh well.)

Anyway. Months passed, and although no new pants came into my life, the gauchos did occasionally whisper in my mind's ear, "What if?" I looked around, but everything I found was either (a) hideous, (b) expensive, or more often (c) both. Gauchos, particularly gorgeous ones, seemed to have an inverse cloth-price relationship; the fewer the yards of material, the greater the number of dollars.

Then, while idly wandering Target's insanely addictive e-aisles last month, I stumbled upon a pair of gauchos similar to Elizabeth's fantastic pair.

They cost $12.99.

I blinked. I didn't care that I'm roughly seven-and-a-half fashion seasons too late, or that the pants in question are marketed in the Juniors department by a brand of clothing that thought it was clever to spell "exhilaration" without the initial "e."

I got them.

And they are glorious.

who's discounting?

I'm here today, folks, to sing the praises of discount shopping.

That's right. The girl who drools when she thinks about the chance to visit 24, faubourg Saint-Honore is actually going to tell you how to get the best for less.

Well, sort of.

Let's back it up. It began when I moved to Maine: I developed dry skin.

Not that I was ever particularly oily, but it got exceedingly bad last fall. Actual flakiness is not pretty.

Now, I know I sound as though I'm unwaveringly an advocate of all things high-end (read: expensive), but I'm neither able nor idiotic enough to shop that way all the time. I use Suave shampoo, after all. For the skin, I tried everything I could get my hands on and nothing really worked. I worked my way up from the drugstore shelves to the department store, but I could have signed my paychecks and my firstborn over to the Lancome counter, and it wouldn't have helped.

A couple of weeks ago, though, as I surfed around online drugstores, I found a new skin-care line. And I figured, I've tried the expensive, filled-with-special-ingredients creams; might as well go for the dermatologist-tested, drugstore-priced alternative. After that, the only option left would be to hock my left foot and invest in some Creme de la Mer, all the while praying it not only worked, but lasted a lifetime. It should, for $110 per ounce.

I'm here to say, unequivocally, that it ain't about the price tag. This line works. The tightness is finally gone; I don't have to reapply my moisturizer three times a day just to keep from turning pink and flaky. Almay just won a convert.

I also ordered this awesome mineral powder foundation. Don't get me wrong; my expensive, can't-tell-I've-had-wine foundation is still fantastic, but this stuff actually seems to clear up minor blemishes. Moreover -- see, this is relevant! -- it doesn't dry me out at all.

Plus I can throw it in my purse without worry of spills. And since the purse didn't come from the drugstore, that's a definite bonus.

I'm still thrilled at the prospect of (window-)shopping in Paris, and I'll always cherish and protect the finer things I own. But two years of dry skin healed in a week for $20?

I'm sold.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

a made man

Does anyone else think that Joey Cheek sounds like the name of a wiseguy straight out of Goodfellas?

life is a mystery

What is it about women's figure skating that makes it so popular?

It cannot -- cannot -- be the fact that a Canadian skater might, oh, I don't know, choose to skate to an instrumental and vaguely classical-ized version of Madonna's awesome hit, Like a Prayer.

Or can it?

I did beat Scott Hamilton to the "hand down" call at one point. That's enough to make me happy.

my mind's inner tivo

It's not so much that I want to know if there's a new Gilmore Girls tonight, but rather, when do we get to return to all-Kelly-Bishop, all-the-time?

Because there was no Kelly in last week's episode, and that's just unacceptable.

Of course, there's always the drama that could be women's figure skating. It's not exactly the same as the brilliance that is Emily Gilmore, but it might just have to do.

Monday, February 20, 2006

budget rent-a-karma

Immediately after posting about my label-whore pipe dreams, I received the following e-mail from the folks over at T-Mobile:

Thank you for contacting T-Mobile Rebate Customer Care.

Unfortunately, at this time we show no record of receiving your mail in submission in our system.

We are bound to the same terms and conditions as the customer and cannot process a rebate without receiving all offer requirements.

If you have the original complete white sticker panel, cut from the handset box, please resubmit your request to the following address. Also include a copy of your rebate form.

T-Mobile Resubmission
Dept 1250
PO Box 72999
, MI 48272-1250

This sticker label contains several barcodes. The original (not photocopied) version of this label has a unique code, which indicates purchase of an authorized T-Mobile phone or device. This label must be included with the rebate submission or T-Mobile cannot credibly verify the originality of the phone/device.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and thank you for choosing T-Mobile.

Donna S.

T-Mobile Rebate Customer Care

Of course, I do not have said sticker label, because I mailed it in as required, with the receipt and the rebate form, on January 4th, the day I received my phone.

And, as Donna S. so clearly mentions, photocopies are not acceptable, so I cannot even send in a photocopy of what I sent before to reapply.

(Doesn't that seem like a Catch-22 in the policy right there? That they have an entire "Resubmission" office, but they ask you to send in the original item that, in theory, you sent in before but they did not receive, necessitating the "re-" part?)

I'm rather powerlessly furious about this. Somehow, I just had a feeling that my rebate would get lost in the mail, and lo and behold! T-Mobile giveth, and T-Mobile taketh away.

I'm negotiating with Donna S. herself, but I don't have high hopes.

Oh Razr, what hath thou wrought?

my name is leigh, and i'm a purseaholic

I'm in serious trouble.

I have twice dreamt about alighting from Paris, aglow in new love, carrying the bag at right.

Now, it's not going to happen. Such things do not fall even remotely within our budget, and I'm going to hawk a kidney or something just to get my hands on {drooooool}...well, anyway.

Still. Two dreams in three nights about the newly-Parisian-ified me, carrying the same purse. Eep.

The other day, as we were flipping through travel guides and researching Metro lines, Jim asked me, "So what exactly is on the Champs Elysees?"

My first response? "The flagship Sephora."

{blank stare}

Me: "And other things! Many, many other historical things."

My brain: "Like the recently reopened Louis Vuitton boutique."

So. Much. Trouble.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

and i think to myself, what a blunderful world

Ever have a weekend where you feel like almost every time you open your mouth, your foot gets wedged just a little bit deeper into the gaping maw?

I attended an absolutely lovely bridal shower and spa-morning bachelorette party this weekend. The entire event was outstandingly planned and executed, and I thought that the outcome could not have been more perfect.

However, I repeatedly had the sinking sensation that accompanies my having said the absolutely most wrong thing possible to issue forth from my vocal cords.

I have this feeling quite often, particularly around people whom I do not know well. The shower guest list comprised a number of women my age with whom I share a graduating class (and, in most cases, alma mater) and so that felt fairly comfortable. The list also comprised several mothers and their contemporaries, and here's where I felt like a total clod.

I used to be good with parents. As an only child, most of my "family time" consisted of being with my parents, my maternal grandparents, and various great-aunts, -uncles, and -cousins who lived in the St. Louis area. I never had any problem whatsoever holding my own in conversation -- or so I thought.

Now I realize that perhaps they were just indulging my idiosyncrasies.

It's not that I was reduced to a babbling fool this weekend. It's just that I seemed to have a tough time identifying who I am ("I'm Leigh. I live in Portland." {blank stare}). The silence upon my introducing myself to the elder generation quickly became deafening, and from that point onward, I slid down an increasingly steep and slippery slope.

I have this knack. It is not a knack I advise anyone to acquire. Rather, it is a knack for somehow saying the least appropriate thing at just the moment when everyone is listening, and not being able to extricate myself from the situation.

Unfortunately for the purposes of elaboration, my brain has blocked all the instances of this knack-in-action from the weekend. But in an attempt to clarify, it works somewhat thusly:

1) Listen to conversation.
2) Decide upon comment to insert into conversation.
3) Scan information banks in brain for witty, intelligent phrasing.
4) Get stuck on least witty, most imbecilic phrasing possible.
4a) Tell self, "Do not say what you are currently thinking."
5) Say it.
6) Receive slightly odd looks and silence.
7) Listen to conversation resuming as though comment never occurred.
7a) Wish you were under the table.

A fairly tame example would come from when I informed Dick's mother that I knew him slightly in college because "he played in the G&S orchestra, you know" and then promptly forgot the name of his instrument.

"Uh, well, my blockmate also plays" Hello, Mrs. Lady! Clearly I am a dear friend of your son, what'shisname!

Believe it or not, that was the least embarrassing slip of the day. There was also the extended series of describing Lazy Sunday (i.e., "The Chronic-what?-cles of Narnia!") to Mrs. Freed at the spa today. Lyette, you rock, but...I'm a dip. Maybe a crazy delicious! dip, but a dip nonetheless.

Time for me to ask the hub to get out that thing he plays, you know, with the strings and the pick, to make me feel better.

(And don't fear; the weekend really was fantastic, and when I'm over my self-conscious idiocy, I'll go into details about all the awesome parts. Particularly the cookbook, which more and more I'm thinking is a total must-have.)

Friday, February 17, 2006

just when you're about to get jaded

You get your first student-to-teacher Valentine.

i'll huff and i'll puff and i'll blow your house down

Apparently, that's what the weather map looks like when outside it is holy mother of God I think a tree just blew by my window-ing.

That, and we're going to drop from our incredibly unseasonably warm fifty-degree high to a low that will hover somewhere around three degrees (yes, Fahrenheit) in fewer than six hours.

Stick a fork in me, Maine; I'm done.

Monday, February 13, 2006

there's a reason no one ever wants to relive fifteen

I received an invitation to a reception being held in Boston for alumni of my highschool who happen to live in the area.

Apparently, geography is not the strong suit of the Alumni Relations department, since Rhode Island, Maine, and parts of Connecticut were included in "the area" for this reception.

How do I know? Well, in addition to the invitation -- which is being held at Rialto, a very swanky and expensive restaurant in Cambridge -- I got a list with the name, graduation year, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address of every alumnus and alumna invited to the event.

You read that right. We're going to have more on that in a moment.

But first: Now, this is clearly a fundraising gig. I have no real problem with that. What I do take issue with is the way it has been couched.

The headmaster and his wife will travel up from Missouri to be in attendance. The reception carries with it no cover charge, despite the abundance of cocktails and nibbles that are promised. From all outward appearances, this event represents a purely social gathering. It almost sounds fun!

But then you keep reading.

In the interest of veracity, I'm just going to reprint the e-mail invitation that accompanied the printed one:

"It only happens every so often, so please save the date to get together with other Burroughs alumni in the Boston area on the evening of [blah blah blah]. Drop into the reception (with or without your significant other) anytime between 6 pm and 10 pm; we hope this provides flexibility so you can finish up at work or drive in from the suburbs. There will be plenty of great food and drinks, and definitely no lulls in conversation! We will have Charles Hotel parking vouchers available. We've tried to make it as easy as possible for all to be able to join us...

In addition to seeing other alumni in your area, we also want to inform you of the exciting changes that will take place at JBS in the next few years with the school's new Campus Master Plan."

Did you see that? How they sort of slipped it in there, after sounding all friendly and wanting-to-get-to-know-us-better? All rah-rah-Go-Bombers, my ass.

I can ignore the fact that I'm slightly outraged by the clear breach of privacy (oh, I know, I know -- I'm sure at some point I gave them permission to do that, but I sure as hell don't remember doing so). I can ignore the fact that I'm more than used to the endless pleas for money. I cannot ignore the fact that I am upset at the school's attempt to hide the reason for the event, as though we need to be bribed or tricked. They send out capital campaign mailers all the time, so why have they chosen such an underhanded approach now?

It feels like a chain letter that the sender attempted to hide in a greeting card -- you don't even get the bit about the new "Master Plan" until you've scrolled down in the email. Then they capped it off in the print version with the not-so-subtle lemony twist of peer pressure. Sure, it appears, on the surface, to be merely a selective address book. Run it through the secret decoder ring, though, and you can read the subtext. To wit: "We know you won't want to come if you don't know who else will be there, so we're including the invitation list. Don't you wish the parties in high school had done that? When you know all the popular kids are going, how can you say no?"

Death and taxes may be the only elements of life that are certain, but I'm pretty convinced of one other thing. High school?

Never ends.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

i love you always forever

One year ago today, Jim asked me to marry him.

Just in case you're curious, I said yes.

Tonight we went out to Fore Street to celebrate.

We had $220 to spend in gift certificates. You should be impressed that we didn't spend all of it, although we did try our darnedest. Even the best spots (and world-renowned) in Maine aren't as expensive as similar places in Boston, New York, or San Francisco.

We treated ourselves to a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Frankly, I could have stopped right there with the wine and the sourdough bread (Fore Street owns Standard Bakery here) and it would have been worthy of a write-up. But of course, there was more to come -- there always is when you're wearing Manolos and carrying a Chanel purse. (Read: Spoiled! But grateful for it, ain't no question.)

Jim had wood-grilled calamari (yum!) and two cuts of Maine lamb over herbed emmer with a lovely broccolini side. I had a blood orange and endive salad that was unfairly out-of-this-world and Maine farm-raised rabbit (fork-tender and amazingly good) with a braised cabbage that was far, far better than any cabbage on earth has any right to be.

All of it was ridiculously delicious. So delicious that there are not words in human language to describe how amazingly delicious was the food that we consumed. So delicious that at one point I cast furtive glances around the restaurant and then actually picked up the leg of rabbit to get the remaining shreds of meat that eluded my knife. Terrible manners, but so so worth it.

We shared a cheese course at the end, with a glass of ruby port. We had a Maine-made brie, a cheddared firm goat cheese (very reminiscent of a manchego, only better), and the most outstanding, overwhelming blue, a Cabrales from Spain.

In between, we talked about our plans for Paris and for the rest of our lives together. We did that thing where we couldn't stop smiling at one another. I'm sure anyone who saw us gagged.

Now we are home, sated and reminded how happy we are to be together.

What a wonderful night.

rise and whine

I have proven it definitively.

There is not enough coffee in the world to make teaching in Portsmouth, N.H., at 9 a.m. on Saturday a good idea.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

i want one too

As I was pulling out of the parking lot up at Morse Street School today, I found myself behind my student Addie's family car. It's a huge beige conversion van with this license plate.

Why is that their license plate?

Well, Addie is the most adorable second-grader ever, with those awesome big front teeth that second-graders get when they've lost their baby teeth but not the others yet. What makes it even cuter on her is that she's Vietnamese.

Her siblings include a little toddler from Africa (I don't know precisely where) who just might be the most adorable boy I've ever seen. He has enormous eyes and curly hair and every time he comes with Addie's mom to pick her up from class, I want to stuff him in my purse and run off and pretend he's mine.

In addition to Addie and her brother, I know of at least one biological child of her blond and blue-eyed American parents, and I'm pretty sure there are another two kids from various countries running around that home as well.

I couldn't stop smiling after seeing their license plate. It just reminded me that there are so many ways to make a difference, and the one that Addie's family has chosen is pretty amazing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

it used to stand for "scholastic aptitude test," but now it just stands for what they've done for four hours by the end of it

I was crazy productive today. I got a whole SAT curriculum piece (long passage) done and a short passage for GRE done, from scratch. Amazing.

Of course, then ETS announced that it's holding off on its big GRE revamp for an extra year, so of course Kaplan is putting its own revamp on hold.

There's still plenty of SAT work, at least. Plus I have two SAT classes this season.

Which is kind of interesting in itself. I got the diagnostic scores back today, Not only are they all over the place; even the kids whom I've been able to determine are sharp as tacks scored poorly.

Of course, it's not surprising; rather, it only serves to support my contention (not an original one) that standardized testing is kind of a balls-out crapshoot of an exercise, and it doesn't work. However, it is a little daunting, just given the amazing point spread in my classes. For example, in one class, I have a student who scored a 280 on Writing, and another student who scored a 670 on the same section. Zowie. A 400-point gap on one section in one classroom? Fun stuff!

One of the reasons I enjoy writing curriculum is that I work with these kids every week, and I know what they're going through. It'd be nice if they had any concept of what we teachers go through, but one can only dream so big.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

tsk tsk tock

The Times today has an article about the new tutoring system being implemented in the city to aid struggling students. The teachers' contract requires that the public school teachers stay late for 150 minutes per week, doled out as 37½ minutes each day Monday through Thursday. Which has led to situations such as the following:

"At P.S. 125 on West 123rd Street in Harlem, a sign on the door of the red-brick schoolhouse announced that students scoring at Levels 3 and 4, on grade and above grade, on the reading and math exams would be dismissed at 2:50 p.m., while the others would leave school at 3:27½."

I'm sorry, but other than my Saturday morning SAT students, does anyone watch a clock that closely? 3:27½ p.m. -- that's a valid time? And as though it weren't already hard enough for parents to be there to pick up their children, now they have to synchronize their watches to meet that bizarre deadline?

The article also mentions that in a number of schools, many of the students who are now being dismissed ten minutes earlier also are failing the required tests. They just aren't failing as badly as the kids who get to stay for tutoring. However, it does mean that students in academic danger are getting less time in class.

I understand that there's no money, that (financially) the tutoring can't be outsourced, that teachers deserve the money for working extra, that there is a finite amount of time in the school week, but this all seems pretty ridiculous to me. They're shortening the school day for the other children, and then doling out extra help to those most in need in increments almost too small to be of use. I don't feel like this is so hard to figure out, and yet...

And yet. What are we to do? Not enough money, not enough teachers, so a stop-gap solution is all we can hope for. Sadly, I fear this is another reason that, when it comes time, I will be one of those deserting the public school system in our nation. Some things matter too much to me, and unfortunately, bureaucracy can't afford to prioritize the way I'd want it to.

I'm sure the right thing to do would be to try to effect the change from the inside out, but -- seriously? There's nowhere even to begin. So I say, fine. Screw "the right thing." Call me evil and elitist, but I'll be damned if I don't provide for my children the education they're going to need and want. I came home from preschool at age three crying about how bored I was. I will crumble if that happens to my kids.

37½ minutes? Half-day kindergarten? After-care with barely-qualified babysitters? Fuck the system. Some things are too important, and timing, as we know, is everything..

Now, having said all that...

Even I occasionally fear I'm too strident or -- worse -- ignorant about an important matter, so I entered into discussion with a trusted resource (a.k.a. Elizabeth). Part of her response, I think, really gets to the crux of the matter, and so I append it here.

"Educational disparities and lack of educational opportunity matter most for the underprivileged and the mediocre-but-overprivileged. . . . You are certainly not in a position to make a substantive difference in our educational system except when considering how to vote. And as you're not going to be depriving public schools of any money by sending your kids to private schools, there's nothing remotely offensive or destructive or irresponsible in that choice."

It's true. The most substantive gift I received in terms of knowledge, and intend to pass on, is the love of learning that leads a child to soak up information like a sponge soaks up water, at any time and in any place.

Would my husband be substantially smarter (ha! like that's even possible) had he attended an elite preparatory institution? Hell no. Did Elizabeth constantly feel challenged and stimulated in our private school? As if. Would I have suffered a massive loss of intelligence at public school? Of course not.

We do what we can, for those who have and for those who have not. I hate when what we do isn't enough, which is why this tutoring thing bugs the hell out of me. But if we do what we can when we can, at least we're on to something.

And on that note, one more drop from the fount of wisdom:

"Although if you do start an independent college counseling and test-prep business and manage to be successful, if you don't do at least a little pro-bono work with public school kids I'll kick your ass. Don't feel bad about the choice, but be grateful that you have it. And be angry that some people don't."

You know what? I think that pretty much says it all.

Monday, February 06, 2006

they say he carved it himself...from a bigger spoon

Yesterday, while I was making the chili (which really was quite delicious, and I'm going to make more soon), I asked Jim if we could put on some Simpsons DVDs.

"Sure," he replied (the answer to that question is really never "No"). "Which one?"

"Well," I said, "I think 'Lisa the Greek' would be appropriate."

Such is the name of the episode wherein Lisa helps Homer gamble on football, and it seemed right for SuperBowl Sunday.

After he got over his awe that I knew the name of the episode -- a fact you can only find out by (a) reading episode guides on Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's site, (b) listening to the commentary on the DVD, which we have done, or (c) reading TiVo's guide, which names the episodes most of the time it shows them -- he got out the correct DVD and queued it up.

"You know," he mused, "there's one other episode we really should be watching today, if only we had it."

"Not that horrible one where they go to the SuperBowl," I groaned.

"No," he said. "You know which one..."

"Ah! The chili cook-off! My favorite episode ever!" I crowed.

"You got it," Jim replied.

It must have been a good karma day. Guess what's on right now?

I love the Simpsons. (Oh, and: Rest in peace, Johnny Cash. No one better to be Homer's spirit guide.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

yelling "go pitt!" just sounds bad

It hit me suddenly a couple of minutes ago.

The most boring blog entry I could possibly write?

Live-blogging the SuperBowl.

I mean, it's not that I don't appreciate the men in tight pants. (Although to be fair, that's not one of the things that really does it for me, as a woman.) I enjoy football. It can be pretty entertaining. But I know just enough about it -- meaning, mostly not a lot at all -- that my commentary would be absolutely unreadable.

I'm almost tempted to give it a go, just because.

Eh, never mind.

In other news, this is one of the best reasons I've seen in a long time to want to be a nationality other than American. I'm all for us working fewer hours and taking more rejuvenative vacations, but lobbying for a national holiday the day after SuperBowl Sunday because of -- and let's be honest here -- hangovers?

Sure, my birthday is occasionally granted holiday status for, uh, essentially the same reason. But that makes sense. This? Is inane.

Then again, perhaps I'd feel differently if I had to be at an office at 9 a.m. tomorrow...

...but really? Not so much.

Friday, February 03, 2006

day late and forty degrees short

I can't seem to find a good answer to this out on the interwebs, so...

When was the last time that damned groundhog didn't see his shadow?

You know something is wrong when you start rooting for Staten Island Chuck. People need hope. Particularly people who live in Maine.

In a nod to Colbert: Punxsatawney Phil? You are dead to me.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

mr. bombastic

{Jim is fiddling with the desk lamp.}

Me: "It's not plugged in."

Him: "Oh really? I thought it was just broken."


Me: "Thanks, Mr. Sarcastic."

Him: "I wasn't being sarcastic."

Me: "Yes you were!"

Him: "Oh, sarcastic. I thought you said stochastic."

Me: "Stochastic? That's not even a word."

Him: "Yes it is."

Me: "What does it mean?"

Him: "Ummm...."

Me: "Ah. Stochastic. ' Of, relating to, or characterized by conjecture; conjectural.'"

Him: "I knew it had something to do with...uh...philosphy and...stuff."

Me: "Greek. Mathematic."

Him: "Right. That's what I thought you said."

Me: "Shut up. I hate you."

Him: "I knew it was a word."

goo goo goo joob

Today I had a child have a complete and utter emotional breakdown because he was convinced -- convinced -- that he would never be the octopus, even though I announced that every child would have a chance to be the octopus.

The breakup of the Beatles makes a lot more sense now. Only one of them, it seems, could be the walrus.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

children are cute but not tasty

Holy shit I'm a good cook.

Let's back up. I'm not the type to toot my own horn, generally speaking. But either I'm actually moderately talented when dealing with the creation of delicious food, or recipe preparation is foolproof.

I think there's a lot of evidence to the contrary regarding the latter statement.

Tonight I made a version of chicken saltimbocca that I saw Giada de Laurentiis (yes, she's related to Dino) make on her show, Everyday Italian. Serious foodies (they used to be called "gourmets," a term I vastly prefer, given my francophilia) deride her show as "food porn" -- soft lighting, sexy music, close-up soft-focus shots of her chopping vegetables, et cetera.

I usually watch Giada if I'm home in the late afternoon because I can't help but marvel at the fact that she cooks with butter, oil, and cheese, and is roughly the size of a toothpick. Plus she's fun to watch, and not as relentlessly perky as Rachael Ray, who -- I'm not the first to say it -- has definitely reached the level of inescapable overexposure.

Right, so back to the cooking. I tried to make a turkey saltimbocca once before, in the process of which I discovered that I don't really like sage. (Who knew?) So I've been wary of attempting yet another version. However, I saw Giada make this chicken cutlet saltimbocca, which appealed to me because it replaced sage with spinach, had a much more intuitive pan-gravy, and just generally looked phenomenal on the show.

I wasn't entirely inspired. I worried that it just wouldn't come out as well as saltimbocca should. First of all, saltimbocca -- literally, "jump in mouth" if you're one of the four people who reads this and doesn't watch Food Network -- is traditionally made with veal, and I'm not about to waste good money on delicious veal and tart it up with prosciutto and spinach and parmesan.

[Aside: I make no bones (ha!) about my appreciation of veal, lamb, and foie gras. Don't quote me the price if I haven't got the time -- I'm going to eat what I want to eat, and so stop reading if you won't deal with it.]

However, Giada's saltimbocca just looked too good to pass up. Jim really loves it when I make chicken cutlets Milanese -- or a la Polley, his mom, which is essentially the same thing with less Parmesan and more breading. I've been feeling a bit like I'm stuck in a recipe rut, however, making the same things over and over, and I had this chicken sitting in the fridge but no good way to prepare it. So I figured, eh, what the hell; we'll see if Giada knows what she's talking about.

Turns out, she really pretty much does. Sure, I tweaked it for my own purposes -- I used a mix of shredded Parmigiano, Romano, and Asiago, and I mixed it into the spinach beforehand, and I added my own seasonings, but generally speaking? WOW. Not only is this a dish I'd make again, it's a dish I'd make for company, and that's saying a lot.

If I can't ever make it as a teacher, I'll just become a caterer. It's far more delicious in the long run.