it's soooooooooooo hot

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ugh, you guys. We have air conditioning but it's no match for late-August in Hollywood. I've been forced to evacuate my office/hot box since my computer monitor throws off so much additional heat it's unbearable. Plus, there are sheer white blinds on two sides of my desk that the sun bleeds through even when they're pulled tightly shut. So as if the monitor's assault isn't enough, I have to make squinty faces. That can't be good. So now I'm sitting downstairs with my laptop on my lap but not directly on it because I'd have scorched thighs. No, I have it sitting upon a down pillow. So, there's that.  Yeesh. I guess I could put it to the side of me on the couch but that makes me feel like an old-timey girl wearing a skirt on a horse. God forbid I should sit in a chair at the dining room table.

Why is it particularly evil when you're hot in your own home?

Once, when I lived in NYC we had a particularly acute several-days-in-the-100s heatwave and it got so bad that I lured my A/C-less friend Paul over to my apartment to help me install a hand-me-down window unit. We wedged it precariously under the open window, crudely filled the gaping sides with tin foil and old headshots (natch) and then settled in front of its face, drinking diet cokes.  It was a meager drop in the bucket and really did nothing for the room/apartment, only offering relief if you sat with its whisper-light blow directly on your head. That prompted us to have a stroke of genius and go to the movies. Because there we could enjoy not just head, but full-body air conditioning. After enjoying a subway ride featuring steaming urine, we stood at the end of a punishing line in the beating-down midtown sun. Apparently every single other body in Manhattan had the same bright idea. As we fantasized about the icy drinks we would consume, a pimply theater employee came out in a scratchy black polo and yelled to the entire line that he was sorry but the A/C was broken and I kid you not: every single person groaned and started walking away in unison. I've never seen a crowd disperse so quickly. It was like a backwards flash mob. Literally no one was there for the actual movie. Paul and I still talk about it. I don't remember what we did after that for relief. Maybe we passed out with heatstroke someplace? Neither one of us recalls. Maybe we got Tasti D-Lite. Remember that disgusting treat?

Another super hot time I remember was my first summer in LA. I lived in an old house that was freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer--and during one awful breeze-less heatwave my roommate and I begged our landlord for permission to cut the bars on the windows in one spot to fit an A/C unit.  She was reluctant and also indisposed that day so she sent over one of her colleagues to suss out our heat problem and consider our request. He stood in our feverish house in a full suit and tie, looking around the room as if he could see the heat and said, "It's really not that hot in here." I looked over at him just as a single bead of sweat slid down the side of his red face. "C'mon, Rod," I said. "I know you're lying." We got our way and the next day had a friend cut the bars and install a unit. The end result? See above. It must have been the same model that I had in NYC. One possible moral of both these stories?  A/C window units suck.

I think I'll just lay on the floor like Lena. She always has the right idea.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Doesn't a dog snout soften a Monday morning?

I think so. Especially if you kiss it. Or it kisses you.

Here's to an awesome week........................

don't call it yellow

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dear Yellow-Crayon Namer,

I like how you roll.

You're my hero.


P.S. Happy Monday:)

homemade oreos

Friday, August 17, 2012

We have a saying in my family that goes like this: "Everybody gets to do what they want to do." 

It started on a summer vacation attended by several family members, their significant others, some friends, and a gaggle of kids. It quickly became a nightmare to coordinate activities and meals and schedules for 15 people. So one day (out of itchy frustration) my mom announced, "Guess what? From here on out, everybody gets to do what they want to do," and it was decided that people were off the hook. Sub-groups formed, plans were made and whoever wanted to showed up. And if some were late or missing entirely, there were no hard feelings. If someone started to get a little testy about So-and-So being M.I.A., it was fair game for anyone to declare, "Everybody gets to do what they want to do!" and remind you to surrender. Not only did it work, it was brilliant.

Over the years, EGTDWTWTD* has evolved from simply a vacation tool into regular life use. For example, if you have a problem with another's behavior or a judgement about a decision they're making and you voice it to a member of my family, they'll throw a EGTDWTWTD in your face. Its an awesome reminder that you can't control people and that really, it's their life after all and none of your business. I can't tell you how many times I've said it to myself when I've been frustrated by another's actions. It just helps me begin that journey of letting it go. The truth is, we can never really know what's going on inside another person anyway.

*I know it's a mouthful of an acronym but I get to do what I want to do:)

This adage comes in very handy when you're living in Los Angeles because people do inexplicably NUTS things all the time. (If you read my blog regularly you know this.)

Case in point:

There was a trumpeter outside Trader Joe's today. It was a lady trumpeter so I think we should call her a trumptress. She was horning for donations in a long frumpy dress playing alongside a pre-recorded percussion beat. I do not know what more to say about this except: 

Everybody gets to do what they want to do.

(See how easy it is?!)

The flip side of this concept is that you can give yourself permission to do what you need to do, taking others out of the equation instead of irrationally taking into account their thoughts and opinions about your life. Isn't that great? And ideal?

Like: instead of taking the easy road and buying them, you can make Oreos from scratch! 

And if it pleases your little heart, you can do so while being accompanied by a pre-recorded percussion beat.

Homemade Oreos
recipe from Smitten Kitchen
yields 25-30 sandwich cookies

For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa (I love Sharfen Berger)
1t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 T room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the filling:
1/4 cup room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortning
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. In a food processor or electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar. While pulsing or on low speed, add the butter and then the egg. Continue mixing slowly (or pulsing) until the dough comes together. It'll be a bit dry--that's okay.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter (less than you'd think), roll them into little balls, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (2"apart) and flatten with your fingers slightly. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once halfway through. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool completely.

Make the cream: mix butter and shortening in an electric mixer and on low speed add the vanilla and sugar. Turn the mixer to high and cream it all together for several minutes until super light and fluffy.

Assembly: Using a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs into the center of half the cookies. Place another equally sized cookie on top and gently press, letting the filling ooze to the outsides. (Alternatively you can use a large ziploc bag with the corner snipped off to pipe the filling.) FYI, here's a link on how to fill a pastry bag.


P.S.  A semi-related quote that happens to be my most favorite:

"What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

--Mary Oliver


Monday, August 13, 2012

I don't think I've ever gone this long without posting. I'm sorry, my dear readers. I've been going through some stuff, I suppose, and haven't been quite ready to wear my heart on my sleeve. At the same time, what's churning inside of me is so present that it's been difficult to write about anything else. So I've been a bit at a stalemate with myself.

In the meantime, allow me to tell you an unrelated but sweet love story:

I've been a Married Lady for a long time now but before that I had a couple long-term relationships that really meant a lot to my heart. When I was twenty-one, singing and dancing in New York City, a guy hit on me at an audition for The Fantasticks. He wasn't really my type but he was playful and funny and extraordinarily persistent. The audition was a callback that ran long and when we left the building it was dark and had started to rain. He coerced/charmed me into sharing my umbrella and I begrudgingly gave him my number after he made me laugh for the whole seven-block walk to the subway.

He called me and made me laugh some more and sent me roses and completely won me over. I fell for him and we stayed together for over two years. What I remember most is being best friends. Together we navigated those unique early-twenties growing pains--becoming separate from our parents, making decisions on our own, figuring out the kind of adults we wanted to be. I also remember how much fun we had. There was a certain sweet time together where we'd literally fall asleep laughing and wake up laughing.

Our demise was partly due to timing issues. There were times when he was all in while I was ambivalent and other times when I cried my eyes out, feeling so in love with him while he was the aloof one. We were also so young. I remember a certain (ridiculous) fight we had where he yelled at me for spending money on a psychic nutritionist. "How can you do that when you know how hard I'm working to pay my rent?! You should be helping me out!" I was furious. "IT'S MY MONEY!!!" I shouted back, even though I knew he was right.

There weren't any epic problems, we'd just started to grow apart. It felt like our time together had run its course. I was pondering a move to LA and felt like that would be the best time to end things. I was terrified because he was my best friend who I loved so much, but in an effort to listen to my heart, I gathered up all the courage of my whole life. When I finally broached the subject during a walk one sticky summer night, he had a panic attack on someone's stoop. It killed me so much to see him hurting that I recanted and said I was sorry, we'd make it work, and we started to make plans to move to LA together.

I relocated first while he finished the run of a show in Connecticut, and during my six weeks alone, I blossomed in my new LA life. I felt free and full of possibilities and excitement. If I would've listened, I'd have realized that I wasn't missing him. But I didn't. The plans were already made.

When it was time, I flew back east so we could drive his car out west together. On our cross-country trip we were listening to these metaphysical books-on-tape and the author said, "If you are completely committed to your own spiritual growth, you should ask yourself what you are most afraid to do and do exactly that." The words burned into me and shook me awake. Oh my God, I have to break up with him, I realized. I knew it was over. Yet here we were, driving through a two-day-long corn field on the way to our new life together in Los Angeles. It wasn't an option in that moment so I squelched it down (yet again) and we moved in together. We lasted another 6 weeks and when the break up finally went down for real it was bad. The trickle had become a raging river and we were both torn apart by it. I broke his heart even worse by not following my own sooner.

The aftermath was even messier. We continued to live together while he looked for a new place. He slept on the couch while I took the bed and we could hear each other crying from our separate rooms. He smoked Marlboro after Marlboro on the front porch (partly for comfort, partly because he knew I hated it). And when he finally did find a new place, I helped him move as we cried and fought the whole time. It was the saddest thing ever.

Over the five years that followed we bumped into each other only twice, once awkwardly at an ATM and another time in the lobby during a play's intermission. That time I was with my new husband and he was with a date. Uncomfortable introductions ensued. And then another five years passed with radio silence.

Then something remarkable happened. One day I was hiking and passed him on the trail. Before having the thought to stop myself I called out his name and he looked at me and smiled. We walked together for the next two hours, catching up and laughing and crying and apologizing and finally experiencing the graceful completion that we were unable to have a decade before.

He's now one of my closest friends and it's the biggest blessing to have him in my life in this new way. Our relationship is such a reminder to me of healing and being open to life bringing its unexpected magic. Life is messy and I'm beginning to think: why shouldn't it be? I'm reading this book right now that says we get into trouble when we think we are the ones "doing" our lives. The physical part of us craves control but the spiritual part wants us to be out of control so there's room for the Great Mystery to work its magic through and around us. That way it can also bring us things (in a million years we'd never ask for) that lead precisely to our greatest good or happiness or learning or expansion--it's all for good, right? I'm choosing to believe that.

It's such a blessing, too, that we now get to enjoy the things about each other that always worked the best. The other day over lunch we talked about our breakup and actually laughed. "Remember that time I threw that stack of mail at you and it went flying all over the room?" He said, "And then we both started crying and I slid tragically down the wall in despair?" I had forgotten until he mentioned it but I immediately flashed to that moment. "We were so dramatic," I said. And then he said, "You never know how life is gonna go. If you told me fifteen years ago we'd be sitting having this conversation I'd have said you were a crazy person."

And then we belly-laughed.

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