Monday, October 31, 2005

Don't Forget the Toothpaste

I am friends with an exceptional elderly woman. She sums up her marriage to her late husband by saying, "We sure did take some great trips together."

Ty and I are terrific traveling companions. Our routine doesn't vary all that much. We call for a car from a car service company, which gets us to the airport later than I would like and earlier than he would like. We check our bags, and then comes the fun part: a magazine shopping spree at the nearest Hudson News kiosk. He usually gets relatively highbrow fare like The Economist or The New Yorker, with some respectable escapist fun thrown in, such as Country Home or Gourmet. It is like Christmas morning for me, as I have a virtual license to purchase Us Weekly, People, Glamour, and Allure at the same time. If we're headed to a foreign country, I might even get In Touch, and rationalize it by saying, "There probably won't be many English-language magazines available there." Ty buys two or three million packs of gum, and, deluded by thoughts of turkey and havarti on crusty bread, I pick up some kind of disgusting and overpriced snack, like a soggy salad or airport bagels.

We then sit and wait a half an hour or so for boarding to begin. Just as they call the first block of rows, Ty takes off for the Mens' Room, and I sit still for about ten seconds before I panic that the plane will take off without us and struggle into the line with my open magazine and both of our carry-on bags, crumbs spilling from my lap. As I'm about to board, Ty sprints to my side, smiling and freshly groomed. Our vacation is about to begin!

A seasoned traveler, Ty has a knack for picking wonderful restaurants, bars, and hotels off the beaten path. My tolerance for adventure increases ahundredfold on vacation, and I am likely to find myself hiking in my good shoes and then savoring a new and spicy cuisine, my third gossip magazine crushed and forgotten at the bottom of my suitcase.

We are silly together. We create new inside jokes. I take photos of him with tousled hair and three-day stubble; he takes photos of me in my green coat and the blue glasses that the eccentric lady gave me for free when I bought a bag. We make forty minutes of fun out of procuring the toiletry items we have forgotten. We get hungry at the same time; we get tired at the same time. We make love before dinner and go out when everyone else is coming home and getting ready for bed.

Coming back is always a little bit sad, of course. The apartment is dark and the air is stale. There are phone messages to check, bags to unpack, junk mail to shred, tons and tons of laundry to do, no food in the refrigerator.

So, we pull the dirty clothes out of our suitcases and throw them on the floor. We order Chinese takeout and put on our pajamas. After a few days, our lives get back to normal.

We grocery shop, wash our clothes, do our work. Our apartment becomes clean and bright. He cooks, I cook. He wears the gray turtleneck sweater that I love. We plan our weekends. We take a walk, and look at dogs both big and little, and babies. We buy a new kind of cheese and ogle houses we can't afford.

I love my trips with Ty; they are necessary to keep our senses of humor and our sanity healthy and functioning. But I cherish the fact that we can come home and still have fun. It makes me feel very blessed.

Good Luck With That

Want my money? Then don't call me at home during dinnertime just as I am about to lift a forkful of delicious Garlicky Seafood Pasta to my lips.

Help the Newbie

So, what's the etiquette of linking to others' blogs? Does one ask permission first, or just put up the links? What about non-blog websites?

Thanks for bearing with me.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Thoughts on Sharing Secrets

On Saturday night, Ty and I told one of his close friends (hereinafter "Mike") about my blog, over a dinner of slow-cooked Texas-style beef brisket, sweet potatoes, spinach, and good red wine. My best friend (hereinafter "C.S.") was also there. Mike had looked down at his plate for a few seconds, and Ty promptly seized the opportunity to mouth the word "Blog?" to me across the table with a quizzical expression on his face. Having had a full two sips of red wine, I was a little slow on the uptake, and by the time I understood what he was talking about, Mike had looked up and realized that we were engaged in a rude-married-person-secret-discussion at the dinner table.

So, we told him that I started a blog. C.S., ever supportive and loyal, immediately piped up "It's really good." (I should mention here that she recently suffered a blow to the head.) I blushed in embarrassment, yet the exhibitionist in me was secretly delighted. Then, I started to worry.

While I have discussed many things with Mike that I wouldn't discuss with just anybody, he is NOT privy to the exact color and consistency of my vaginal discharge (just in case there was ever any doubt, Ty). I am, by nature, a very private person with an odd streak of exhibitionism. The desire to keep quiet and the desire to talk create tension within me. I therefore will have to give some serious thought to what things I want to share with the Internet and what things are just for me, given that some people I know will be reading this.

I hope that the exercise of writing this blog will clarify these boundaries for me. There will surely be a few missteps along the way; I anticipate that I will regret (and possibly retract) certain entries, while others I will post after a great deal of deliberation, only to discover that nobody is particularly fazed by what I have just written.

I am fairly certain that this blog will bring me closer to C.S. I also think, overall, that it will bring me closer to Ty, though probably not in as smooth and continuous an arc as with C.S. I wonder who else it will bring me closer to; whether I will hit a nerve with someone I don't know very well, or at all. Right now, I'm feeling fortunate to live in a time when this technology exists and provides a simple and efficient medium for sharing ideas and receiving feedback.

In case you were wondering, the brisket turned out really well.

Friday, October 28, 2005

My Favorite Misnomers (Urban Version)

1. "Studio"-- This conjures up images of a well-lighted, well-organized atmosphere in which to produce neat, highly detailed technical drawings. In reality, it's often an apartment whose big selling point is that the bed is located within easy proximity of both the television and the refrigerator.

2. New York City's 1-Day "Fun" Pass -- a $7 card that provides you with unlimited subway and bus rides for one day. The name would be fine if its usage were limited to, for example, going around town from department store to department store interspersed with lunch, or park to museum to movies, but one can also use this card on a day when one goes from a proctology appointment to the funeral of a former coworker, and then to a visit with a friend in the hospital.

3. Many chain "drugstores," where one has a choice of 17 different brands of lip gloss, but cannot locate the one specific OTC medication one's doctor has recommended.

Do you have any to add?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Faith in Humanity

While my professional patience was stretched to the limits today, I am very, very happy to have now received three comments on my blog, all positive. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Who knew that random Internet persons cloaked in relative anonymity would be nicer than the people that I saw every day in high school?

You commenters have reversed the damage to my self-esteem that occurred this past weekend when three separate workmen saw me in my old pajamas that have the laundry detergent stain on the butt. At least it's blue, I kept telling myself.

Tonight for dinner I may make a red sauce with pancetta and onions and serve it over pasta. I also plan to duplicate the dessert that I made two nights ago, which consisted of fresh apples and pears sauteed in brown sugar and butter and a little bit of apple cider and served over coffee ice cream. Did I tell you that I like autumn? And cooking?

"Life is What Happens..."

Having gotten my first real comment yesterday from someone not trying to sell something, I promptly spent the rest of the day worrying that I'd alienated my lone reader with my last post. If that one didn't do it, this one probably will, but not to worry, PTG: this weekend I plan to try my hand at making fresh pasta, so I'm bound to have more food-related observations next week. I've already secured the special type OO flour from Italy, courtesy of my sweet and thoughtful husband, who shall hereinafter be referred to as "Ty."

This week I got my period, which is in itself unremarkable, given the fact that I am a twentysomething female. What made this period remarkable, other than the fact that it inconveniently arrived while my friend and I were waiting for the supermarket cashier to finish the elaborate and drawn-out inspection of the bill for counterfeitedness, was that it marked yet another month of not getting pregnant. Stop groaning: I have no plans to steer the direction of this blog to trying-to-get-pregnant, but I figured I'd write about it today, and maybe occasionally in the future.

The thing is, I'm not that upset. I was upset months ago, when it first became apparent that this would take some time, and maybe require the assistance of people in lab coats (and not the fun role-playing kind). Now, though, I've sort of accepted that, and while I get upset occasionally, I console myself with thoughts of the soft cheeses, wine, and sushi that I may still consume (don't even get me started about mayonnaise on sushi; I know in some strange way it may arguably be considered authentic, but that's really no excuse).

I guess I just have a lot of irons in the fire right now, so to speak. I'm starting this blog, I recently started a more regular exercise regimen, and winter's coming, so I'll have all those sweaters to launder by hand. It'll happen when it happens, and that's that. It's out of my control. At some point we may seek medical assistance, but we're not there yet. I do worry about Ty, who has yet to experience the sadness that I experienced earlier. I'll help him through it, though, and be extra nice to him, and put extra parmigiano reggiano on his fresh pasta.

And maybe don a lab coat, for good measure.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Curriculum Vitae and Such

Now that I've got two completely random posts under my belt, I thought it might be a good idea to give you, my pretend readers, a little bit of information about myself, and why I am writing this blog.

First of all, my name isn't really Arabella. That's just a pseudonym. I'd love to have a pseudonym as cool as Mark Twain or George Sand, but the only really creative pseudonym I've come up with I'm saving for my brilliant film career. Therefore, you'll have to settle for Arabella, which is a name I really like but that my husband has vetoed and therefore must be stricken from our List of Potential Names for Our Future Baby Girl. Maybe someday I'll use my real name, but don't hold your breath.

I have no real qualifications for blog-writing, other than the occasional humorous e-mail to my best friend and a knowledge of the correct spelling of the word "definitely." I suppose, also, that it's worth mentioning that I am in one of those careers that tends to produce a lot of frustrated creative writers. I'll tell you more about that some other time.

There are essentially four reasons why I am doing this:

1. The Internet Age has been moving so quickly that I fear I am becoming the analog of someone who still listens to music on cassette tapes. I need to learn more about how to do stuff on the Internet, so that I can go to cocktail parties and participate with a more convincing degree of awareness as others discuss the pros and cons of things like RSS feeds and Movable Type. Maybe someday I'll even be able to change the "Edit-Me" links on the right to real, working links of sites that I like.

2. I like writing and I like the idea of being a writer, but I seldom like anything I have written when I go back and re-read it. For example, I'm very unhappy with what I wrote yesterday. It's so boring and cliched and tedious. Movie stars are too thin! There's too much pressure on young women! I'm not going to participate! The funniest thing in there is the soy lasagna, which I did not invent. People are actually eating this. I don't even like the way the German shepherd/ribeye metaphor turned out. So, I hope that by posting my writing on a regular basis, then re-reading it, I will be able to get over not liking my own writing. If anybody besides me ever reads this and posts comments, the comments will inevitably be negative, since one can post a brownie recipe on the Internet and get negative feedback, and negative comments should (repeat: SHOULD) help me develop a thicker skin, which will also be good for me.

3. I follow a number of blogs, many of which are written by very funny women whom I admire, and I want to be one of these Cool Kids. Maybe someday I'll post links to their sites, when I figure out how to do that. They will then acknowledge my greatness and accept me as one of their own.

4. I like the idea of doing something that I have complete control over. I can change the direction of this blog at any time; I can change the background, or the font; I can even stop writing it. Having undertaken to shower and dress every day, keep my clothing laundered, be faithful to one person 'til death do us part, get 1,000 milligrams of calcium, and make dinner several times a week, it's fun to make a somewhat lofty commitment that I am able to abandon at will.

Time for breakfast.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

In Praise of a Little Bit of Cellulite

I have what would generally be considered a small amount of cellulite. It's definitely there, and it's enough to hasten the demise of my theoretical career as a swimsuit model, but it's not enough that I will stop making homemade hot fudge or banish butter from my refrigerator. I exercise, I eat these sinful foods moderately, and I'm relatively slim and fit.

In spite of my obvious pretentiousness, I read gossip magazines with the gusto of a German shepherd devouring freshly grilled ribeye. Virtually every issue of every gossip magazine has at least one article devoted to celebrity diet and exercise programs. Having read about macrobiotics, soy lasagna, and protein shakes guzzled at 4 am training sessions, often while I'm nibbling crackers with brie, I have come to the conclusion that perfectly-smooth thighs just aren't worth it.

Sure, I'd love to wear size 2 jeans, but not if I have to give up Double Chocolate Milanos. It would be great to wear a pencil skirt to a film premiere, but I don't have any film premieres this week. Or next, for that matter. But I do have a date for cheeseburgers with my best friend.

Yes, these celebrities earn millions of dollars per film, and often make several films per year. They date and marry some of the most attractive men on the planet. And so what? Many of them wind up miserable and substance-addicted. The attractive men cheat on them and leave them for younger versions of themselves. I'll take the sheer joy of my loving husband pinching my extra thigh meat any day.

Not to mention pasta with mushroom sauce.

Soy lasagna? Please. Life's too short.

Monday, October 24, 2005

An Open Letter to Sandwich Makers Everywhere

Dear Sandwich Makers,

Mayonnaise does not belong on an Italian Hero.