Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Yesterday I had my third pelvic exam in seven days. This was the least uncomfortable pelvic exam of the trio, and I'm not being facetious.

"Don't cry!" the nurse told me, as she jammed in the cold speculum with a little twist.

Why would I cry when I could just kick? I thought.

"I won't," I said.

Afterwards, I did what anyone would do under the circumstances; I treated myself to a copy of the British edition of the current OK! magazine.

In my opinion, the reason why OK! hasn't been so popular in the States is because the U.S. edition isn't chock-full of material about British celebrities. Us Weekly does a fine job of filling us in on Brangelina and Vincifer; what a woman really wants after a pelvic exam is to read about television presenters, footballers' wives, Posh and Becks, and Jordan, the enormous-breasted Page 3 model. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you're really missing out. I'm serious.

As I sat drowning my sorrows in "The OK! Rich List: Which Celebrities Raked in the Most Dosh in 2005?" my cellphone rang.

It was Mrs. Harridan! She was in New York for the day on business, and had some free time.

A few hours later, we shunned a too-crowded Starbucks and headed for an empty Irish pub for an hour of pleasing, supportive conversation. She bequeathed me with the ring you see in the photo above. As I wore it home on the subway, ultimately headed for one of several tedious meetings this week, I swear, its fuzzy purpleness imparted a fortifying essence into my weary bod.

Thanks, Mrs. Harridan. I really needed that.

Monday, January 30, 2006

You Tell Me

Ok, how strange or normal am I? Here is a list of terms that I have recently Googled:

high scores Snood
Pamela Franklin
Carl Akeley
women's grandpa sweater
best shampoo curly hair
Jem and the Holograms
smoothie recipes
health benefits blackberries
get rid of mice naturally peppermint oil
celebrity corpses (Google Images)
boils (Google Images)

Share yours, if you dare!

Friday, January 27, 2006

The Eternal Optimist

The device to the left in the photo above is a mango cutter. It was a Christmas present from my mother, because I love mangoes and hate cutting them, even if I'm using the Martha Stewart Method.

On the lower right is a mango that I purchased, oh, about two weeks ago (the reddish one). It has been sitting in a fruit bowl on my kitchen table since then. See the overripe-mango bruise in the flesh? Also present on the flesh, although not visible due to my crappy photography skills, is glitter. Yes, glitter. Why, you ask? Because my fruit bowl doubled as a receptacle for an arrangement of decorative Christmas greenery and ornaments, of course.

Last night, I was out, and Ty was making some inordinately good dinner (portobello mushroom tortelloni with a decadent tomato-and-pancetta-based sauce) when he realized that we were out of onions. He called me and asked me to pick some up.

This is where the trouble begins.

You see, I buy my onions at our local health food store. I buy them there because I believe in the benefits of organic produce and all that, but mostly because the health food store is a bevvy of promising-looking items that a stressed-out woman will all too readily procure.

Therefore, on this trip to the health food store, I bought:

1. several pounds of organic onions;
2. a Stonyfield Farm vanilla truffle yogurt;
3. a bottle of lavender essential oil (for stress reduction during my fertility appointments, but of course I can't wear fragrances to the doctor's office, so there was absolutely no reason for me to buy this);
4. a box of chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies;
5. an organic mango (the green one on the upper right).

And I put back the Dutch waffle cookies at the last minute, because the box said something about how "Instead of the traditional caramel, we put in this healthy substitute..." and I lost interest.

Total cost? Over $21.

You know what's going to happen to the new mango, don't you?

The same thing as the old mango. It will sit there until it gets bruised and rotten, because I, who made time to create a display of decorative greenery and ornaments in our fruit bowl, do not have time to cut up a mango EVEN WHEN I OWN A TOOL EXPRESSLY DESIGNED TO MAKE IT FUN AND EASY TO CUT UP MANGOES.

On the other hand, the chocolate chip oatmeal cookies will be gone by tomorrow.

Why are we humans like this???

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A Perfect Day For Bananamemes

This one courtesy of Mignon.

3 Foods I Hated As a Kid and Love Now:
1) mushrooms
2) hummus
3) lamb

3 Foods I Loved As a Kid and Hate Now:
1) bananas
2) Sour Patch Kids
3) Pixie Stix

3 Foods I Loved as a Kid and Still Love:
1) scrambled eggs
2) Jones breakfast sausages
3) Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies

3 of the Worst Things I Ever Had to Eat:
1) deviled eggs
2) banana gelato
3) An Italian hero WITH MAYONNAISE ON IT purchased at a "delicatessen" in upstate New York when I had an overwhelming Italian hero craving. I didn't know they put mayonnaise on it, because, really, why would anyone put mayonnaise on an Italian hero? (See my very first post ever.) I took one bite, discovered the mayonnaise, and spit it out. This was at least eight years ago. I am still upset.

3 of the Best Things I Ever Ate:
1) Kumamoto oysters on the half shell, on my honeymoon
2) my mother's rum cake
3) the loin of pork with rosemary that my husband makes

You are tagged if you so desire.

Monday, January 23, 2006

An Open Letter to Publishers of Women's Magazines Everywhere

Dear Publishers of Women's Magazines,

We believe that you have lost sense of your place in the world. Your mission in life is to publish what we pseudo-literary types call "light fare," i.e., something fluffy and entertaining that we can read as we perch upon our toilets and evacuate our bowels and bladders, or sit waiting for a doctor to shoot radioactive dye through our Fallopian tubes. Anything beyond this is simply overreaching.

In other words, we, your readers, DO NOT want to read analyses, in your pages, of the controversy surrounding James Frey's A Million Little Pieces; there are other publications we turn to for this. What we want from you is articles with titles like "How To Keep Your Eye Shadow From Crumbling Into A Million Little Pieces."

Similarly, under no circumstances do we need to read an article about "Ten Places In The World Where Women Are Raped And Murdered Regularly Due To Oppressive Government Regimes" opposite an ad for Wet 'n Wild Lip Gloss. A more fitting choice of subject matter for your ilk might be, "Ten Places In The World Where Women Can Get A Good Deal on Quality Leather Handbags."

We accept your relationship advice, mostly because we adapt it to suit our own needs. We tolerate your occasional recipes, since you include excerpts from actual decent cookbooks written by chefs in addition to your own calorie-conscious suggestions involving fat-free mayonnaise and packets of Crystal Light.

We are not airheads. We do not need you to educate us. What we do need is for you to ENTERTAIN us. Lecturing us about politics is simply insulting. Even worse is assuming that we all think the same way and can't each make up our own minds, as if there were a direct neural pathway from the thought portion of the brain to the vagina. Stick to lecturing us about scrunchie usage, please.

Arabella and her sisters

Friday, January 20, 2006

Random List of Ridiculousness

1. Brittny and Lisa Gastineau have their own TV show and Heather Armstrong doesn't.

2. I own a pasta maker, a mango cutter, and two fondue sets, but I do not own curtains or a plain white pillowcase. I have absolutely no problem at all whatsoever with this.

3. Kevin Federline has children and I do not.

4. I am somewhat capable of fixing washing machines. I am not remotely capable of fixing my own computer.

5. I have paid to have hot wax poured on my bikini line and the pubic hair ripped out by the roots, but I seldom wear my hair in a ponytail, because it hurts.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Famous Last Words

When we were seniors in college, C.S. and I decided that we would be all cultured and practice both our pretense and our Italian and go with a college group to see an opera at the Met.

At this time, we were living in a house with three other women, two of whom were planning The Party to End All Parties for that very night. They were disappointed that we were going to the opera.

"So, we'll arrive late," we told them. "Your party will run most of the night. The opera starts at 8. How long can it possibly be?"

Ladies and gentlemen, do you see the title of this post???

The opera in question was Aida.

"What's it about?" you ask.

I have no idea.

"Who was in it?"

I have no idea.

"How was the music?"

I have no idea.

What I do remember is that the opera was FOUR HOURS LONG.


Before the opera, we had a great big reservation at some Italian restaurant in Manhattan, where we were to have a prix fixe dinner.

"What restaurant?" you ask.

I have no idea.

Yes, readers, I can tell you the exact shade names of the last four eyeshadows I've worn, but I can't tell you where I ate dinner before the opera. ME. Have I mentioned how important dinner is to me?


The whole group piled in and sat at a big long table. C.S. and I were right at the end, with another woman sitting next to us.

"There's a J. Crew around here, isn't there?" she asked us.

"I don't know." (This was before my J. Crew fixation took full effect.)

"I'll be right back." She got up and left.

In the film High Anxiety, Mel Brooks's character tells Madeline Kahn's character, "If you're loud and obnoxious, psychologically, people don't notice you."

This is what must have happened.

C.S. and I sat and chatted and laughed. The waiters came by.

"Is someone sitting here?" they asked, gesturing towards J. Crew Girl's seat.

"Yes," we told them. They put food by her place.

Little by little, C.S. and I realized that everyone else had been served. We simply sat, holding our pretty blue paper napkins in our laps.

We gestured for the waiters, to no avail. As they began clearing the others' plates, our food arrived. They started to serve dessert to everyone else.

J. Crew Girl arrived, shopping bag in hand, and ordered a slice of chocolate cake. It was promptly placed in front of her.

We scarfed down our food while requesting cappuccino to accompany our imminent dessert.

J. Crew Girl took two bites of cake, put on her coat, and left, abandoning her seat.

We waited and waited.

The cappuccino arrived.

"Ok, everybody, the bus is outside. Time to go," called our professor, at that very moment.

C.S. and I looked at each other and sighed. We put on our coats and she started to head out.

I lingered a moment more.

"Come on, Arabella," she called.

Outside, we lined up in front of the bus.

"STARVING," she told me.

I simply smiled.

"Aren't you, too? We didn't even get to finish our meal."

Slowly, I reached into my pocket and pulled out a folded blue napkin.

"What did you do?"

I said nothing. I simply opened up the napkin to reveal all but two bites of a slice of chocolate cake.

We burst out laughing and ate it.

Hey, if you're going to sit through a four-hour opera, YOU NEED FUEL.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Definitely a French Toast Morning

Last week I was told I would have to have a lot of blood taken in the process of fertility diagnosis. Today, I woke up early for the privilege of having 587 vials of blood drawn (Ty says the number increases every time I talk about it, which is constantly).

"Do I have to fast first?" I asked the nurse, near tears.

"No. In fact, before your blood test, make sure you eat and drink enough so tha--"

I didn't hear the end of the sentence. In my mind, I was already sprinkling the cinnamon on the golden brown slices.

I was all set to post a picture of a stick of butter, but there was a glare on the shiny wax paper packaging that I couldn't get rid of. Also, the photo kept reminding me of that "get the butter" scene with Brando in the kitchen in Last Tango in Paris, and that's not an image I need in my head right now.

Instead, I will just tell you that the February 2006 issue of Food & Wine magazine tells you to "indulge yourself," and contains articles "in passionate defense of...pasta and other outlawed carbs." The cover photo is a bowl of penne dressed in what appears to be some kind of silky ricotta, the edges of the pasta toasted brown by the heat of the oven broiler. Who needs Playgirl???

I love to eat most foods, but I definitely think carbs make for the ultimate comfort foods. Lately, my three favorite comfort foods are, in order, 1. French toast; 2. potato leek soup; and 3. chocolate chip cookies.

What are yours?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Another Species Entirely

Let's get one thing straight: I am no Carmen Electra. Nevertheless, every once in a while, some random dude takes a fancy to me for reasons unknown.

A few days ago, after visiting with a friend, and I decided to stop at The Garden of Earthly Desires, known to most of you as J. Crew. Five or six post-Christmas sale purchases later, I was weighed down with boxes and bags. I boarded the packed train, my face bearing the kind of weary expression that can only come from removing one's clothing repeatedly to try on half a dozen skirts that are too big in the waist and too tight in the thighs, and then trying to gauge whether the garment is worth $20-plus in alterations. It's Christmas all over again for the tailor!

I edged my way in and stood, balancing boxes between my tired feet. One of those non-spaces opened up, the kind where, if you sit on the edge of your seat, your buttcheeks only moderately rub up against the strangers sitting next to you. Random Dude looked up at me standing there and shifted, chivalrously, so that there was more room for me and I could sit down and get to know him a little better before de facto intimacy took place.

I sat, carefully balancing my bags so that the box of plastic wrap gifted upon me by my eccentric friend wouldn't spill out of my purse. Random Dude, sensing an opening, suggested various ways that I could store the bags on the train that would make me more comfortable.

Now, once upon a time, I was 22 and cute, if I do say so myself, and had the coltish, fresh-faced manner that should be so appealing to Random Dudes. And did they hit on me? A little, frankly, but not all that much. And never on the subway. Do you know the first time I was hit on in the subway? The day after I got engaged. I was wearing my engagement ring, the stone turned around, of course, so if anything, it looked like a wedding band. But did this guy think to check my ring finger, that barometer of availability? Noooooooo. That would make too much sense.

So, here I sat, about four years later, clutching the sweater I had purchased for my husband, and my new box of plastic wrap, and my shopping bag full of sensible clothing, and thinking about what I would make for dinner. My hair was disheveled, I wore no lipstick, my shoes were scuffed, and I had a maple syrup stain on my long coat from The Unfortunate French Toast Incident of '05. Apparently, there is nothing as appealing as a woman who simply isn't trying to impress.

A person would cough, I would turn my head to avoid inhaling the sputum, and Random Dude would look up to see if I was trying to make eye contact with him. I'd pretend I found the ads for Dental Technician School beyond fascinating, so I would look like I was concentrating and he wouldn't talk to me. Someone came on and sang for money, and I looked pissed because, well, I was pissed, but also because I was hoping he would think that I was a hard woman who lacked compassion and therefore wasn't worth his time. Oh, how I just wanted peace and quiet and to get home, take off my shoes, and read Food and Wine.

I wondered if my wedding and engagement rings, both of which were turned around and looked like wedding bands, were having some kind of reverse reaction. Perhaps I looked doubly-married, and therefore into polygamy or swinging. Random Dude didn't even look at them, though.

My stop arrived, and I stood and left. Random Dude looked up at me, perhaps wondering what Might Have Been, perhaps wondering why I'd callously rejected him, perhaps wondering who the buxom blonde was three feet behind me, perhaps wondering what he was going to make for dinner. I guess I'll never know. He really seemed sweet, and was nice-looking, and not at all scary. I hope he finds what he's looking for, and that all men do, and that, when they do, they take .0567 milliseconds from their day to GLANCE AT HER RING FINGER.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Bar None

I've pretty much shot my humor wad for the week, so don't expect great things today.

In spite of our reputations as food snobs, Ty and I enjoy protein bars fairly often. They make a good calorie-controlled snack, are convenient, and taste pretty good, unless you get the kind with no sugar, in which case you might as well just eat the packaging that they come in, or your own words, which undoubtedly would taste better.

My favorite protein bars are Kashi GoLean. They are big and chewy and come in good flavors. Until recently, the stores closest to me only carried Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cookies 'n Cream. I had to trek farther for Malted Chocolate Crisp and for my personal favorite, Chocolate Almond Toffee.

Now, I ask you, who made the marketing decision that the CANDY-FLAVORED bars should be less widely available? There's a lot to be said for Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cookies 'n Cream, but, my goodness--TOFFEE, people!!! I can think of about half a dozen stores where I can readily procure wheatgrass juice, soy sour cream, and all manner of (to me, at least) unsavory products. Why on earth should it be so difficult to find something prominently labeled with a picture of an almond, a chocolate chip, and a HUGE HUNK OF BUTTERY TOFFEE???

Someone obviously got with the program, because a number of local stores have recently begun stocking their shelves with a wider selection.

So, corporate decisionmakers, I implore you PLEASE to do the following additional good, smart things:

1. Discontinue specific cosmetic colors no more often than once every two years.
2. Release Diary of a Mad Housewife on DVD.
3. Automatically link the words "skirt" and "A-line" in your mind.
4. When you make slingbacks, add a strip of padding in the strap, for heaven's sake.
5. Stop tinkering with soda. Enough variations, already. I can readily buy everything but the one thing I want, which is Caffeine Free. I really don't need kumquat-infused cola.
6. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, even think of making wool pants without a lining.
7. Stop making nice clothing in ridiculous colors. Haven't you noticed that black, gray, ivory, navy, and red all go, and then you're left with a big fat batch of Chartreuse? Is this what you want???

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Six Fun Things To Think About When You're Scared Or Stressed

1. Try to count the number of people who have seen your naked backside in your lifetime. Include everybody--not just the obvious lovers, but also doctors, people who accidentally walked in on you when you were in the bathroom, fellow locker-room users, people who changed your diaper when you were an infant, roommates, etc. Photos and videotape count, unless you're a porn star, in which case you get an occupational exception because imposing such a count on you would constitute an undue burden for an activity that's supposed to be entertaining.

2. If you're not trying to get pregnant, and not tracking your menstrual cycles to avoid getting pregnant, relish the thought that you don't really have to keep painstakingly scrupulous track of your menstrual cycles; ordinary track will suffice. If you are trying to get pregnant, relish the thought that, unlike me, you probably haven't kept track of some of yours on the back of a J. Crew receipt. If you have, then know that you've got a sympathetic friend. If you're a man, just be quiet and sit in your seat. Better yet, if you have a female partner, bring her a nice cold soda and a chocolate chip cookie. If you're tracking your menstrual cycles to avoid getting pregnant, you're on your own; haven't I done enough for everybody else? I'm tired.

3. That mean, ugly dog on your block that barks every day at 5 am, takes a dump in your rose bushes, scares away all the cool birds at your birdhouse, and terrorizes little kids on their tricycles? That dog will most likely be dead within fifteen years. Probably a lot less.

4. Someone somewhere once thought of putting chocolate and hazelnut together, and now we all know about it and get to enjoy this combination whenever we want.

5. Pajamas have evolved so much in the past few years that many kinds now look quasi-acceptable when worn in public. This I know for a fact.

6. As of right now, you've got a whole ELEVEN AND A HALF MONTHS to do your Christmas shopping.

Help me out, people. Add some more.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

An Examination of Quality

This is what has become of an eye shadow compact that I have owned for a relatively short period of time, not even long enough to use up its contents:
Despite its appearance, I DID NOT bring it on a wilderness survival expedition, where it jostled, uncushioned, in a nylon backpack, rubbing against a device that would allow me to purify water from my own urine, as I ran from a hungry lion.

What DID I do with it, you ask? I opened it each morning, applied the eyeshadow, closed it, and slipped it into a silky little makeup pouch, where it lounged in comfort and luxury for the rest of the day while I busted my ass working, cooking, and doing laundry. (For the record, I DO NOT walk around with sparkly purple eyelids; I apply a very thin layer of the purple color underneath an earthy shade of brown just to add richness and dimension. Awwww, yeah. I read Allure.)

I know what you're thinking. "Well, that's what you get for buying drugstore makeup, Arabella. $3.59 a pop does not make for lasting quality."

I used to think the same thing. So much so, in fact, that I tried department store makeup. I tried paying $30 for a little box of pressed talc mixed with rust (yes, ladies: "iron oxide" is rust). You know what happened? The exact same thing.

Something like this happens to ALL my makeup. Look at this drugstore blush--the compact lid has broken right off:

Something similar has happened to the lid of a tea kettle that Ty and I have owned for less than three years. Above is how it DOES look; to the right is how it SHOULD look. This tea kettle was on our wedding registry. It cost either $25 or $50; I forget exactly, but I'll go with $50 here because it makes a better story. We do not run an English teahouse; we boil water for tea once a day--all right, sometimes multiple times a day. In my opinion, a tea kettle that costs what my ancestors probably paid for acres and acres of Sicilian olive groves in 1900 should last at least five years.

In contrast, below is a photograph of organic brown eggs. They are not made of petrochemicals. They have not spent their days leisurely lounging in a silky pouch, or heating small quantities of filtered water for moments at a time. Their shells are mere micrometers thick. They are unfortified by antibiotics or chemically-engineered chicken feed. They were extruded from their mothers' bodies through a tiny orifice, harvested, handled, and packaged in one of those states with grass and trees, and then boxed and shipped to the good people at FreshDirect, who unloaded the package of eggs at their facility, boxed it up again, hoisted it onto a truck, pulled the box down from the truck, and delivered it to my apartment, where I sliced the box open with a pair of scissors, removed its contents in my usual maniacal way, and tossed the eggs into the refrigerator. I paid something like $2.59 for twelve of them.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Since I am trying to get pregnant, have no children, live in a community in which it is impossible to recycle bottles at the curb three feet from your apartment without bumping into 17 pregnant women, 400 children, and 32 parents pushing double strollers while walking their puppies, and every pet that I have ever owned is now dead, my hobbies include cooking, knitting, blogging, and Sitting Around Feeling Sorry For Myself.

One good place to engage in this fourth hobby is church. On any given Sunday, there are approximately 862 adorable children within a two-pew radius of my husband and me, even at the last Mass of the day, which I affectionately dub the "singles Mass" because it is primarily attended by all the young hipsters who were out partying the night before and are headed to brunch and cocktails after. Still, there is generally an excellent chance of sitting in close proximity to at least three of the following five:

1) cute rosy-cheeked, pigtailed little moppet clutching a teddy bear in a pink tutu and wearing a miniature cardigan sweater;
2) adorable tow-headed tot in Osh Kosh B'gosh overalls who looks the way I imagine my husband did when he was three, holding a toy train in one hand and a prayerbook in the other;
3) the two tiniest children in the world, wearing miniature Easter dresses and hats, huddled together over a Newbery Award-winning children's paperback book that I remember fondly from my youth;
4) glowing woman who is 16 months pregnant and whose ass is still smaller than mine, but whose breasts are nine times larger than mine (oh, and she has no pimples or saddlebags and always gets a seat on the subway, and she'll be in her size 0 clothes again 4 days after giving birth, and her cooter will shrink back down to virginal tightness, and she already has three beautiful, well-behaved children that look exactly like her);
5) messy-haired two-year-old tyke who turns around, looks up at me with big brown eyes, smiles, and whispers "Hi!" when everybody is praying.

Why not just stab me in the heart with a sharpened Krazy straw?

Even better, the kids are all with their adoring, doting parents, who stroke their hair and gaze at them lovingly as meaningful Scripture passages are being read, knowing that their children are the most important things in the world, and I can't blame them one frickin' bit.

I'm really, really tired of all of this "trying." I'm tired of retelling humorous anecdotes about my best friend's nephew, a child so tangentially connected to me that he wouldn't know me from Uma Thurman. Or Boris Karloff. I'm tired of jealously searching for traces of wee mustaches and low IQ in the photos of distant acquaintances' children sent to me at Christmas (I know, I know; I am a terrible, terrible person, but at least I'm a good, good cook). Even though I'm only 28 and I enjoy doing all kinds of selfish and shallow things, like sitting around all day and reading copies of Us Weekly that are so old that they feature stories with headlines like, "Brad and Jen: Inside Hollywood's Hottest Marriage," and staying up later than I should and sleeping in later than I should just because I can, and even though I secretly think that newborns are really funny-looking, and even though I fear the loss of my flat, flat abs and the expansion of my already ample derriere, I am officially ready for a baby.

What are you really, really, really ready for?

How far has humor carried you in your life?

Monday, January 09, 2006

Getting Back To My Roots

Ty and I took down our Christmas tree on Saturday. It was bittersweet, but it had to be done, as we are not interested in turning our living room into a combustion engine.

Above is a picture of not our tree, by the way. It's the remains of a random tree that I snapped for its stark beauty, and also for the curiosity factor. Where did all the needles go? I've posted it here because initially I thought it would tie in nicely with both the removal-of-the-Christmas-tree theme and also with the title of the post; then, I had a few more sips of tea and realized that there are no roots in the picture, only branches. It's Monday morning; you're just going to have to lower your expectations a little, dear readers.

We worked up a good appetite by taking down the tree, so we finally broke out the pasta maker and made ourselves some fresh fettuccine:

Isn't it beautiful? I have to say, it turned out even better than I expected. The pasta maker has earned a piece of the valuable real estate that is our kitchen countertop, thus replacing the broken espresso maker and pushing the food processor ever closer to the edge. My mind is now constantly plotting the next batch: I'm thinking I'll put freshly ground pepper in with the flour, and it won't be long before I try my hand with spinach pasta. Yes, the Trattoria Breve will henceforth be serving homemade pasta (most of the time).

Given that the holidays are over and it's generally a glum time, I'm feeling pretty good.

Beautiful roses courtesy of my husband. Back off, ladies; like other good Italian wives, I own a rolling pin.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Do As I Say

I was never a huge fan of day camp when I was a child. I despised athletics and many outdoor activities, I was just as happy playing alone or surreptitiously listening to the adults talking in the next room as I was playing with other children, and, given that I was a pretty "good" child and didn't hit other kids or talk back, I didn't really like being told what to do in a non-school, non-home environment. Besides, I had more important things to do at home, like sit on the floor and play with pots and pans.

Now, as an adult, of course I see the benefit of sending a child to day camp. It's nice to get a reprieve from watching the same episode of The Muppet Show five or six times in a row. Plus, most children really seem to like it. I was the exception.

When I was a youngish child, probably about five, I attended one such summer day camp. I don't remember it being too terrible, given that there were lots of arts and crafts and we were too little to be forced into any really competitive sports.

One day, however, the counselors were taking the children on a little mini field trip. We were all going to pile into a big van and then drive to a nearby lake. Ugh. I was an urban child; I didn't like wading into any water I couldn't see through. I went to go and put on my jelly sandals, so that at least all the microscopic beings living in the mud wouldn't latch onto my feet and suck my blood.

"No, no, Arabella," one of the counselors told me. "We don't need shoes. We're just going right to the lake."

"But I want to wear shoes," I told her. "And these shoes are waterproof."

"No. None of us are wearing shoes." She gestured towards all the naive barefoot children, unaware of the torments that awaited their smooth soles.

I looked down at her thong-clad feet. "But you're wearing shoes."

"I need to wear shoes, because I have to drive."

It struck me then that her thin little flip-flops probably didn't provide much more support than her own bare feet, but I relented.

Naturally, the counselors just didn't want to deal with a dozen tiny people and two dozen tiny shoes. Inevitably, children would need help getting them on and off, and shoes would be lost to the lake or left in the van, children would cry, and parents would get mad. I would have been just fine taking care of my own shoes, though, and was plenty pissed that I was being lumped into a category with more careless children.

If the camp counselors didn't want to deal with shoes, I thought, then perhaps they should have chosen to do other things with their lives. Cooking school, maybe, or retail. I don't know, something not involving CHILDREN AND LAKES.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Ten Things That Piss Me Off

Looks like it's List Week at the Trattoria Breve. WARNING: This one is grumpy.

1. Spending a long time making the perfect cup of tea (or having my sweet husband spend a long time making the perfect cup of tea for me), and then losing my grip on the milk carton and pouring too much in and messing it all up. Then, I get to be unhappy for 15 minutes first thing in the morning as I sip the bland tea. It's going to be a bee-yoo-tee-ful day.

2. When I try to open a simple e-mail attachment from a friend and some program throws up a million pop-up windows as it first tries to update itself, and then tells me how many wonderful features it has. I JUST WANT TO OPEN MY FUCKING E-MAIL ATTACHMENT. WHEN I WANT UPDATES, I READ PINKISTHENEWBLOG.COM; THOSE UPDATES ARE A LOT MORE INTERESTING.

3. When I get all excited about a new exercise plan and overdo it the first day, and then get so sore that I don't exercise again for several days, and by then I'm no longer excited and it doesn't become a regular routine. Might as well just take the Cookie Dough ice cream to bed with me and be done with it.

4. My utter inability to fall in love with any handbags produced after 2003. I like hardware as much as the next person, but my goodness. Don't these designers know that most of us carry the same handbag everywhere? I really don't want to look like a dominatrix at church. Plus, who has a lifestyle that supports a non-shoulder bag?

5. The admission rates of certain museums that shall remain nameless. $20.00 each??? Are they out of their frickin' minds? I imagine that many of the paintings inside originally sold for considerably less money.

6. Not being able to pick and choose which channels I want in my cable package. Right now, I could live without some of the foreign-language news channels, but I really would like more channels that show graphic cosmetic surgery procedures, because there are a few hours of the day when they are difficult to come by. I'm not being facetious.

7. When I can't fish my cellphone out of my handbag fast enough to catch it while it's ringing, and then it goes to voicemail, and then I have to wait for the little icon to appear, punch in my code, listen to it, and delete it. Oh, and it's always those messages that say stuff like, "just call me back."

8. Junk mail from companies I've never heard of. No, I won't be ordering any exotic fruit, $80 pajamas with sheet-music designs all over them, or mail-order brides today. How about selling me something useful, like paper towels in bulk, delivered to my door, with a free jug of laundry detergent thrown in?

9. Paying shipping and handling anew when I exchange an item. You're just trying to get me into the store so you can pitch the credit card, aren't you? I'm wise to your schemes.

10. Falling in love with something online and on sale, only to discover it's already sold out, but the website hasn't bothered to take down its description yet. Ivory cable-knit grandpa sweater, we hardly knew ye.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

5 Weird Things About Me(me)

(Witty pun in the title shamelessly adapted from Mignon)

I think I've been tagged for this lots of times without ever really being tagged for it.

1. I often prefer the generic version to the original.

2. I remember things from when I was very, very young. Lots of things. Yet I often can't remember what to buy at the grocery store.

3. When I was thirteen, I had this hunch that if I drank an ordinary chocolate milkshake, then I would get my first period within a few days. I drank the milkshake. I got my period about three days later.

4. I find it very difficult to sleep without socks on.

5. I never understood the big deal about shoes until, one day, when I was at Century 21, I saw a pair of red Van Eli pumps with black trim. All at once, the shoe gene kicked in for me. I had to have them, and I've loved shoes ever since.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Tapas at the Trattoria

Happy 2006! I apologize for posting so late today.

Like 3,405,607,321 other people, I would like to lose five pounds this year. Unfortunately, I enjoy food more than about 3,405,607,315 of those people. Plain grilled chicken does almost nothing for me, and I'm honestly not a big fan of whole-grain bread. I would only give up sugar if my life depended on it, not my thighs, and I could happily ensconce myself in cheese.

That said, I am a big fan of fresh, natural, organic foods, and I do love fruits and vegetables.

Hence, I bring you--and me--the following list, of Healthy(ish) Snacks That I Actually Like. I plan to consult it when I am hungry and need some inspiration.

Reduced Fat Triscuits with vegetable or garlic hummos or with Laughing Cow cheese

seedless grapes

roasted, salted almonds

walnuts mixed with dried cranberries

a single organic jewel yam, washed thoroughly, speared repeatedly with a fork, placed on a paper towel, and microwaved until soft (about 8 minutes on high power), then wrapped in aluminum foil to steam for a few minutes (careful; it will be hot); can then be split open, the two halves fluffed up with a fork, and sprinkled with salt and pepper, or a LITTLE bit of brown sugar and butter(!)

blueberries and raspberries mixed together

salad made with romaine lettuce, light ranch dressing, and sunflower seeds


leeks sauteed in olive oil

Imagine soups in the pourable container (especially portobello mushroom)

makeshift soups consisting of leftover cooked veggies heated with chicken broth

leftover turkey chili with dark red kidney beans

oatmeal made with skim milk, sprinkled with a few semisweet or dark chocolate chips and then stirred up so the chocolate gets melty (C.S. gets the credit for this brilliant idea)

roasted sweet peppers with garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar

mushroom salad (sliced mushrooms sauteed with garlic, ginger, vinegar, a little bit of sesame oil, and a little bit of soy sauce)

oranges (I especially love citrus in winter)


pineapple chunks, fresh or canned


cucumber slices

roasted beets

sushi rolls (especially when made with brown rice)

If you've got other ideas, please add 'em in!