Tuesday, September 28, 2010

"I say more; expect no pleasure from it. Is there ever any with your prudes? I mean those in good faith. Reserved in the very midst of pleasure, they give you but a half enjoyment. That utter self-abandonment, that delirium of joy, where pleasure is purified by its excess, those good things of love are not known to them."
-Marquise de Merteuil to Vicomte de Valmont, Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Monday, September 27, 2010

wonderful tonight

For the first time in months, I feel relaxed. I'm curled up on my couch, in my leggings and Righteous Babe tshirt, sipping a large glass of wine and letting the cool air come in through the open front door. I haven't even turned on the A/C. It feels fantastic outside. 

I got a call this morning, asking me if I could come in an hour and a half early for my interview. With a little rushing, I was able to make it (10 minutes early even!). I chatted with the two people who had previously interviewed me, before meeting the doctor who would be conducting this interview. We sat down in his office and he immediately asked me, "What would it take for us to get you to come on here?" Talk about a surprise. I hope I kept my surprise in check, because I really wanted to say, "A job offer and $10/hr." Instead, I talked about good people, challenging work environments, benefits, etc. We talked a bit about the job and about New Orleans in general ("I'm a New Orleans boy, born and raised. I've been elsewhere...lots of elsewheres...but there's not a better place in the world than New Orleans. You should stay here, even if you don't stay HERE.") before he said, "Look. Your resume is...impressive. It's more than impressive. I think you would excel here and, to be honest...well I'm not supposed to say this but I'll say it...you're our first pick." 

After that, I went back to my original interviewers and was given a tour of the office. We sat down to finish up the interview and I asked about some specifics. I'd be expected to work a 40 hour work week, with flexibility allowed for my school schedule (so long as I don't take mid-afternoon classes). Normal starting salary for the job is about what I made at LCA, but they're going to ask for that to be bumped up, based on my experience and education. A formal offer will be made as soon as HR processes the background check and checks references. 

As I was leaving, I got a call from my former HR Director. "Did you just have an interview?!," she asked. When I told her yes and the company, she said, "Oh my God, one of their doctors called Dr. R--- and asked him for a recommendation of you!" "WHAT DID HE SAY?!!!" "He gave them a great recommendation and the doctor told him that the job was YOURS!!!" 

I celebrated by getting some (amazing) fro-yo at Pinkberry and reading Dangerous Liaisons outside. I'm so happy about this. Last night, I began to think I had been too cocky about thinking I would get this job, that I'd get a call: "So sorry, but we've actually decided to hire someone else. Best of luck!" I quietly considered the possibilities of subletting the apartment and transferring my degree back to LSU. Right now, I am relieved. And I am happy, both that I have a job and that I can stay in this city that I have grown to love more than I would have ever thought possible. 

sleepless long nights/that is what my youth was for

Things I did this weekend:
Roger DAT!
-Went flying in a private plane (a 1970's Beechcraft Bonanza) with some of my ex-co workers. In doing this, I also went to some unfamiliar New Orleans neighborhoods.
-Had breakfast in Jackson Square.
-Snuggled on Marla and tried to assuage my fears that she might die.
-Baked a batch of my favorite cookies, adding coconut and golden raisins, which made them even better.
-Smothered some okra.
-Applied for and got a (non-paying) contributer's gig at the blog goodnola.com. I'll be writing bi-weekly articles about volunteering in New Orleans, adjusting to the city and awesome things that the youth of NOLA are doing. Exciting!
-Read a whole bunch of Plato and wrote a slammin' paper on rhetoric in the Gorgias.
-Put off a bunch of other reading.
-Tried to troubleshoot my parents' computer issues before getting frustrated and telling them to turn it off, because they don't listen to me anyway and download oodles of stuff that slows the already ancient hard drive to a crawl.
-Ate too many of the aforementioned cookies.
-Finally downloaded Feist's "The Reminder"
-Anxiously refreshed the Saints vs. Falcons box score on 3 different websites and got pretty sad about the Saints losing in overtime.
-Planned my outfit for tomorrow's interview (this top in "new vineyard", a black A-line skirt and some modest black heels.)
-Put off ironing that skirt and shaving my legs, reasoning that these things are better done the day of anyway.
-Decided to stop fooling myself about completing my correspondence course, after finally figuring out that I wouldn't be penalized for not finishing it. I wasn't able to get a second extension and completing it by the deadline would just be impossible. It's just not feasible. I'm mad at myself for wasting the money, but also just to a point where I can't be too angry because I've already moved beyond it being a realistic goal. Maybe it's something I will revisit when I have more time, but jury's out on that still.
-Discovered Tulane allots a week's vacation for Mardi Gras, in addition to a (admittedly shortened) spring break.
-Trimmed my bangs, after determining that they look terrible in all pictures taken of me in the last month. (see above photo for a particularly egregious offense)

Things I will do this week:
-Complete this week's reading list:
*Dangerous Liaisons (no real rush on this, since my teacher could care less if we've actually done the readings)
*Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism (I plan to skim this 76 page document and obtain necessary information to complete the midterm for the above class)
*Gospel of Mark (same parenthetical as above)
*Frederic Jameson- from The Political Unconsciousness
*Raymond Williams- "Base and Superstructure in Marxist Cultural Theory"
*Raymond Williams- "Charlotte and Emily Bronte" (I'm to give a 20 minute oral presentation on this paper this Thursday, complete with a handout)
*Dorothy van Ghent- "On Wuthering Heights" (already read--just skimming in order to effectively answer any comparison questions that may come my way during the presentation)
*William Goetz- "Genealogy and Incest in Wuthering Heights" (same skimming process)
-Go to tomorrow's interview and be awesome.
-Submit my "About Me" to goodnola.com
-Work on my presentation
-Get a Tulane ID card (I keep finding reasons to put off doing this)
-Do some research into volunteer opportunities to write about (thinking about something on Hollygrove Market
-Work on my take home midterm.
-Snuggle Marla
-Make a new massive reading list.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

flying high

Today has been a banner day!

I woke up to a call asking if I could come for a follow up interview for a job I'm trying to get. A little background:
As most reading this blog know, I've been searching for a job since mid-July. Things have been getting a little desperate--thank goodness for parents, savings and an insurance filing mishap that worked out in my favor. Otherwise, I wouldn't have an apartment right now.
So about a week and a half ago, I get a call asking if I could come in for an interview at a medical clinic at Tulane. I didn't even remember applying to this job, but I said sure. I got the address, the suite number, etc. I Googled-mapped the address and saw it was about 10 minutes from home. So I left 30 minutes earlier, thinking I was giving myself a good 20 minute barrier to get down there and find the office. This, in retrospect, was idiotic. It's New Orleans. There is a lot of traffic. And something is ALWAYS going on. So I get there with about 8 minutes to spare. I drive around to the parking lot I was told to park in and...it's full. I drive around some more and there is no parking. I call the interviewer and let her know that I will be a wee bit late, due to the parking situation. I find parking and dump every silver coin on my person into the meter. I enter the building.
It is the wrong building. "You need to go to the second floor and take the crosswalk to the building across the street. Go to the fourth floor," a security guard tells me. I do this. I pat the sweat off my face, walk up to the front desk and tell the receptionist I'm here for an interview. She looks at me like I'm insane. "We're not hiring."
'No no, I have an interview!"
"With who?"
"Ms. W--"
"That person doesn't work here."
Eventually she tells me "OH! I bet you need to go to HR." Okay, this sounds like it could be correct. I go down two floors, go through two crosswalks and go into HR. My legs are slippery at this point and I'm wishing I hadn't used lotion on them. I feel slimy. I walk to the desk and tell this receptionist that I'm here for an interview.
She too has never heard of Ms. W--.
I begin to cry.
A physician in the room and the lady at the desk both start trying to help me and track down Ms. W--. Meanwhile, I am desperately trying to call Ms. W because it is 25 minutes past my interview time. I finally reach her and figure out where i need to go. I arrive, sweaty, sporting streaky makeup and overall probably looking more than slightly off kilter.
But damn if I didn't ace that interview.
There were some awkward moments. At one point, I was talking and my nerves got the best of me and I ended up forgetting what I was saying. Suddenly I understood Miss South Carolina. I stopped, breathed and said, "I'm sorry, I'm a little lightheaded right now." I also called Ms. W-- by an incorrect name and said "Why break what isn't fixed?" before quickly correcting myself. But I can do everything they want someone in that position to do, I was able to offer ways to do it better, able to quickly come up with good responses to what-would-you-do scenarios and I think I appeared confident, or at least as much as I could possibly be in those circumstances. I'm excited that they called back. I think it'd be a good job for me.

After that call, I checked my email and saw Groupon was offering a $20 haircut. My hair is in shambles lately and I'd been bemoaning the fact that I didn't have $45 to drop on getting it cut well. I Googled the salon and reviews were excellent, so I bought the Groupon.

I had breakfast and, in my purse, I found a Gap coupon for 15% off (it was an old purse. And I keep everything in my purses), so I went there and bought 2 shirts that I've been eyeing and got the customer service of my life. Then, I went to Dorignac's.

I went there because Ann had given me a gift certificate as thanks for looking after Fred the cat. She told me I'd love it and she was right.Dorignac's is a little grocery store from the late 1940's and it's easy to imagine that you're stepping back in time when you go there. Their stock is amazing and there are lots of hard-to-find items there, as well as a lot of throwback things and many specialty LA items. Here's what I ended up buying (I went over the gift certificate amount by a bit ^_^)
-Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (I don't know WHY, but these are seemingly impossible to find in NOLA, despite being able to find them anywhere in BR. I have checked 4 different grocery stores before finding them at Dorignac's.)
-A box of powered milk, for bread baking and for a project I'm working on
-1 box rennet tablets (I've been toying with the idea of making some cheese)
-1 box Ball canning lids
-A container of strawberries
-A jar of kalamata olives
-2 containers of creole cream cheese which I have loved for years--it seemed the right thing to do to buy some from Dorignac's.
-1/2 lb. of rare roast beef, on Ann's recommendation (it is so. good.)
-A brick of 1/3 fat cream cheese (this is my fave kind of cream cheese and another item that I can't find anywhere. Will be eaten with pepper jelly soon.)
-Swiss cheese

I came home and then got a message from a friend asking if I'd like to do coffee. We met and, post coffee, went to Sucre, where I had 3 macaroons--chocolate, hazelnut and pistachio. I'd never had a macaroon before. They were interesting--subtle, delicate and pricy. I liked them but I felt they were lacking a bit in something. However, my friend got some delicious coconut and basil gelato, the candies there looked extraordinary and the person who helped me was wonderfully nice, so I'd still recommend Sucre. Even the macaroon, if you're looking for a little treat.

We ended the night at St. Joe's Bar and actually ran into a guy who used to be friends with one of my ex-roommates. We caught up and he recommended the blueberry mojito. I'm normally not big on mojitos, but I liked this one. Maybe not something I'd order every time, but I'd get it again.

So, all in all, a good day. One that will end in about 5 minutes, as I've fallen asleep twice while typing this.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the art of doing

Once again, my procrastination has gotten the best of me and, at 2am, I just took a loaf of bread out the oven, finished a chapter of Plato's Gorgias and laid out my outfit for an interview tomorrow. I hope the outfit is okay--I almost went with a kind of frumpy fuchsia (sounds like an oxymoron but it's not) sleeveless dress, that looks kind of old on me. I decided on a simple black A-line dress (which my former boss once referred to as "short" but is the same length as the fuchsia dress that she loved, so I feel like it's okay?) and a green cardigan with low black heels. It's an outfit I feel comfortable and myself in.

Aside--I looked up fuchsia on wikipedia to see if there was another color on the color scale that better fit the description and I came across Antique Fuchsia, which needs to make an immediate comeback, so I can wear it constantly.

Tomorrow, I need to get up early, remove my leftover nailpolish, possibly paint my nails a more neutral color (currently, they are half-coated with my current favorite OPI Dark Room), remember to remove my nose ring, shave legs, style hair into some semblance of decency (my hair is badly in need of an unaffordable trim) and get directions to the interview. I'm not so worried about getting there as I am about traffic and parking, so I want to leave an hour early, to give myself plenty of time.

Then I come back home, whip up a quick paper on the first chapter of Gorgias and get to class. Which I could have done already, but...you know. Why do things before the VERYLASTMINUTE?

Depending on how well this interview goes, there's a small chance I'll drive to Austin on Thursday, since my literary criticism class was cancelled. But Ravi has a test next Monday, so he'll probably be busy studying. I'm still ambivalent about visiting, but I'd like to see him. We'll see. It's more likely that I'll be here, working on schoolwork and writing a presentation about Marxism in Wuthering Heights...which isn't such a bad way to spend the weekend either :)

On a last note, let me mention the bread. Lately, I've been baking this oatmeal sandwich bread from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain (a book I desperately want, as I've loved pretty much every recipe from it that I've found on other websites and have loved most). I have really enjoyed this bread--it's a hearty, sturdy kind of bread, a bread that you don't feel (as) bad about eating, almost earnest with its oats and molasses. I've had it for breakfast many mornings. The thing is...I haven't much cared for it as a sandwich bread. The crust tends to be quite crunchy and thick and the bread doesn't yield in quite the way I look for in a sandwich bread. So, a few days ago, I decided to give Smitten Kitchen's wheat sandwich bread a try, because Deb has rarely let me down (anyone close to me knows that a large amount of what comes out of my kitchen is SK-inspired.) I put off making this because I didn't have powered milk. Today, I drove to Rouses' to get some only to find that the only powdered milk they had came in a $15 box that held more powdered milk than I will ever need. Not having time to go elsewhere before class, I gave up and decided to just sub while milk. It worked wonderfully. The bread came out quite well (a little on the small size, slice-wise, but that's my own fault for using a longer-than-average sized loaf pan), sliced perfectly, even with my cheapo serrated knife, and tastes amazing. It has a little more white flour than I really wanted, but it has that tender elasticity that equals perfect sandwich bread for me. Tomorrow's lunch might be a roasted eggplant and tahini sandwich. Hopefully a lunch that celebrates a new job! Cross those fingers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

reading Lives of Girls and Women

So remember when I said I was "working on the Munro"? I JUST finished it this afternoon. It couldn't have come at a better time, as I've been somewhat down today, about relationships and appearance and a multitude of other things that nibble at my psyche. At the end, I felt recharged and a bit readier to face life. Here are some passages (taking a page from D's blog here) I especially felt:

"When not working on the Township's business he was engaged on two projects--a history of Wawanash County and a family tree, going back to 1670, in Ireland. Nobody in our family had done anything remarkable. (...)And to Uncle Craig it seemed necessary that the names of all these people, their connections with each other, the three large dates of birth and marriage and death, or the two of birth and death if that was all that had happened to them, be discovered (...) and written down here, in order, in his own large careful handwriting. He did not ask for anybody in the family to have done anything more interesting, or scandalous (...) It was not the individual names that were important, but the whole solid, intricate structure of lives supporting us from the past."

"Being forgiven creates a peculiar shame. I felt hot, and not just from the blanket. I felt held close, stifled, as if it were not air I had to move and talk through in this world but something thick as cotton. (...)I was caught in a vision which was, in a way, the very opposite of the mystic's incommunicable vision or order and light; a vision, also incommunicable, of confusion and obscenity--of helplessness, which was revealed as the most obscene thing there could be. But like the other kind of vision this could not be supported more than a moment or two, it collapsed of its own intensity and could never be reconstructed or even really believed in, once it was over."

"I myself was not so different from my mother, but concealed it, knowing what dangers there were."

"Seeing somebody have faith, close up, is no easier than seeing someone chop a finger off."

"My love did not of course melt away altogether as the season changed. My daydreams continued, but were derived from the past. They had nothing new to feed on. And the change of season did make a difference. It seemed to me that winter was the time for love, not spring. In winter the habitable world was so much contracted; out of that little shut-in space we lived in, fantastic hopes might bloom. But spring revealed the ordinary geography of the place (...) Spring revealed distances, exactly as they were.

"Disgust did not rule out enjoyment, in my thoughts; indeed they were inseparable."

"But I hope you will--use your brains. Use your brains. Don't be distracted. Once you make that mistake of being--distracted, over a man, your life will never be your own."

"Also I felt it was not so different from all the other advice handed out to women, to girls, advice that assumed being female made you damageable, that a certain amount of carefulness and solemn fuss and self-protection were called for, whereas men were supposed to be able to go out and take on all kinds of experiences and shuck off what they didn't want and come back proud. Without even thinking about it, I had decided to do the same.

"I didn't get really fat, just large enough, solid enough, that I loved to read books where the heroine's generous proportions were tenderly, erotically described, and was worried by books where desirable women were always slim."

"I knew it had been a mistake stopping the car, coming inside. My happiness was leaking away and, though I drank more and hoped it would come back, I only felt bloated, thick in the body, particularly in the fingers and toes."

"I took his judgment like a soldier, because I did not believe it. That is, I knew it was all true, but I still felt powerful enough, in areas that I thought he could not see, where his ways of judging could not reach.The gymnastics of his mind I did not admire, for people only admire abilities similar to, though greater than, their own. His ind to me was like a circus tent full of dim apparatus on which, when I was not there, he performed stunts which were spectacular and boring. I was careful not to let him see I thought this. He was truthful in telling me what he thought about me, apparently; I had no intention of being so with him. Why not? Because I felt in him what women feel in men, something so tender, swollen, tyrannical, absurd; I would never take the consequences of interfering with it: I had an indifference, a contempt almost, that I concealed from him."

"Then turning my back I pulled off everything I had on--he did not help or touch me, and I was glad--and lay down on the bed.
I felt absurd and dazzling."

"Nothing that could be said by us would bring us together; words were our enemies. What we knew about each other was only going to be confused by them. This was the knowledge that is spoken of as 'only sex' or 'physical attraction.' I was surprised, when I thought about it--am surprised still--at the light, even disparaging tone that is taken, as if this was something that could be found easily, every day."

"'You will have to do what you want,' she said bitterly.
But was that so easy to know? (...) I was free and I was not free."

"...and after some time I felt a mild, sensible gratitude for these printed words, these strange possibilities. Cities existed; (..) the future could be furnished without love or scholarships. Now at last without fantasies or self-deception, cut off from the mistakes and confusion of the past, grave and simple (...) I supposed I would get started on my real life."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

what's in YOUR fridge?

Things in my fridge right now:
-4 individual cups of applesauce (leftover from granola making...will only be used for another batch, as I'm not a fan of plain applesauce)
-1 roll Pillsbury Crescent dough (from when Ravi and I were going to make brie roll ups, but the first batch just turned into a delicious mess)
-1 container plain yogurt
-1 small bowl of homemade lemon tahini dressing
-1 bowl leftover butternut and chickpea salad (to be paired with the aforementioned dressing)
-1 bowl leftover Thai Tomato soup (this was the first thing I cooked in this apt. and I ate portions of it out of a bag I had frozen until I had a little breakdown, threw the leftovers in the fridge and took off to Baton Rouge. There they sit, since I only remember them after I've just replaced the garbage bag. I should just go dump the leftovers off the back porch but I'm scared a stray cat might eat it and be poisoned by all the onion.)
-A LOT OF CHEESE: a small container of goat cheese crumbles, a brick of Colby-Jack, a pack of sliced Cheddar, a pack of sliced Gouda, 2 individual slices of Pepper Jack, a large container of Parmigiano-Reggiano, a chunk of Gruyere
-1 pack of flour tortillas
-1 Brita "UltraMax" container filled with water
-Half a jug of Sweet Leaf Mint and Honey tea
-3/4 jug of lemonade
-1 Mason jar of corncob wine
-1 bottle Rogue Somer Orange Honey Ale (purchased in 2009 in Chicago)
-1 bottle Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout (purchased at the same time as the ale)
-1 bottle Rouge Brutal IPA (purchased in 2010 in Chicago)
-Half a freezer bag of what spaghetti noodles from a meal last week
-1/2 bottle of tonic water (for some reason, I really like to take sips of tonic water here and there. I like the taste of quinine.)
-A Mason jar with a scant amount of homemade stewed peaches in their syrup
-1 grapefruit
-1 orange
-4 eggs
-1 can of 365 root beer
-1 can of 365 black cherry soda (from a sad trip last week, when I was determined to locate the Whole Foods, but had no real money to spend)
-1 almost-empty carton of soy milk
-1/2 gallon of skim milk
-1/2 box chicken broth
-1 bowl leftover chicken salad that has passed its prime
-1 Tupperware of Sloppy Joe mix (sent home with me by my mom earlier this week, in an attempt to make me eat something. It is half gone.)
-JARS OF PICKLED THINGS: homemade bread and butter pickles (from my dad), pitted olives, pickled okra from the Clinton farmer's market with Erin and Heather, homemade pickled jalapenos (also from my dad--1 jar is sliced, the other is whole), spicy snap beans ("South Louisiana Style"!), kosher dill spears, capers, MORE OKRA (this one from the Tabasco Co.), pearl onions (used as a surprisingly tasty substitute in place of fresh ones in a recipe) (I snack on these things individually all the time, because I love briny food.)
-1 jar artichoke hearts
-1 jar homemade pumpkin butter, which probably needs to go.

-3/4 red onion
-1 bunch of spring onions (from this weekend's BR farmer's market with my mom)
-1 bag okra (MORE OKRA! Also from the BR farmer's market)
-3 small zucchini (from my mom's f. market purchases)
-1 pack celery hearts (purchased for the chicken salad and the recipients of insistent attempts to not waste food--have twice been the subject of a not-half-bad-but-definitely-half-assed celery remoulade.)
-2 eggplants (finally cheap and tender enough to justify purchasing! Also, my favorite fruit.)
-A large assortment of mixed peppers (more BR f. market)

-1/2 bag dried coconut (from Michael's german chocolate birthday cake? A year ago? Still tastes okay...)
-1/2 tube almond paste (from Erin's last birthday, when I made dyed marzipan roses for her cake)
-1 jar raspberry preserves (inspired me to bake a loaf of bread after moving in)
-1 jar maraschino cherries (pawned off on me by Erin when she was moving to Chicago)
-1/2 jar Mission salsa con queso
-1 jar tahini
-1/2 jar chipotle salsa (I think this was Ravi's, because I'm not a big chips and salsa person outside of Mexican restaurants)
-1/2 jar of prepared horseradish (which I keep putting on burgers in remembrance of one of mine and Ravi's last meals--an attempt to eat things in the fridge resulted in 4 black bean burgers with half of the condiments in the fridge on each one)
-MUSTARD: a special-uses jar of Maille dijon, 1 bottle habanero (DEFINITELY RAVI'S.), 1 bottle Jack Daniel's stone-ground dijon, a regular-uses bottle of dijon, 1 bottle of Creole (also from Erin) (these are especially funny to me because, up until maybe 5 years ago, I couldn't stand mustard on sandwiches or in any manner that didn't see it swamped by mayo)
-1 jar Smart Balance mayo
-1 jar homemade maple syrup (also from Clinton farmer's market)
-2 bottles ketchup
-1 jar red curry paste
-1 jar Sriracha (also Ravi's--I'm not a huge fan of this stuff for some reason)
-1 jar tamarind paste
-1 jar harissa (I am a fan of THIS stuff, which beats the pants off Sriracha)
-1 bottle Stubb's Hickory Bourbon BBQ sauce
-1 bottle vidalia onion salad dressing
-1 bottle sundried tomato salad dressing
-Another jar of raspberry preserves (these are sugar free)
-1 jar homemade strawberry pepper jelly (more from Clinton!)
-1 jar homemade plum-blueberry jelly (Clinton!)
-1 jar praline syrup (also Ravi's and I have never used it. It sounds amazing though)
-Another jar of capers! Who knew?
-1 jar Tabasco pepper jelly (I need a brick of cream cheese to pour this pepper jelly over, STAT. Bring crackers.)
-1 jar mayhaw jelly (I have too much jelly. I hardly ever eat it.)
-1 bottle of Amarula (purchased in 2010 in Chicago, because my favorite place for it burned down.)
-1 bottle Three Philosophers (2010-Chicago)
-1 bottle lime juice
-2 cans parmesan cheese (for general use, as opposed to the special-occasions/I need a treat parm-regg)
-1 bottle of vermouth (from Devil's chicken with Ann)
-1 box baking soda

The end!

I know some of you (okay, all 5 readers) are wondering why on earth I would post a list of food in my fridge. HOW MUNDANE CAN I GET? YOU'RE LUCKY IT'S NOT A POOP ENTRY (yet.) Well, it started when I opened it to store the leftover squash and chickpea salad and realized that, for the first time since I moved in, I was going to have to move stuff around to make room. When I started doing that, I realized that, however ridiculous it may sound,the things in my fridge hold a story for me. I have an association for almost everything in there. It is deliciously (strained pun ahead) ironic to me that I, someone who will deal with an eating disorder for the rest of my life, have such loving associations with food. Perhaps it is in spite of the ED, maybe it's attributable to my Southern heritage, maybe I just like to eat (ding!), but it was striking to me that the contents of my fridge are a kind of metaphor for "home."

Also, in a broader scope, I'm always curious about the things people keep in their refrigerators. I think my own bespeaks my heritage--things in Mason jars, all the garnishes for Bloody Marys, tea and lemonade--beyond just the obvious "this person LOVES vinegar..." It shows a person who likes to cook and maybe someone who's adoration of okra has gone a little too far (again, see Heritage). In the same respect, it tells a story that isn't necessarily true--that I have a lot of money to spend on food (almost everything on the door and all the pickles were brought from BR and purchased when I had a well-paying job and no rent payments. I skimp on other expenditures and my mom buys me groceries here and there), that I love jelly--and that's interesting to me as well.

I'm not necessarily trying to start a meme (but it'd be fun), but I enjoy the idea of looking back on this post months or years from now and reflecting on those stories, on making myself at home here.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

despite all the computations/you could just dance to that rock 'n' roll station

I had loads of fun today. In browsing the NOLA LJ community the other day, I came across the following event:

One Book One New Orleans is a literacy initiative that encourages all the residents of New Orleans to read the same book during the same time period. This year the book is Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans, the 1954 Louis Armstrong memoir.

This Saturday, Sept 11, there will be a self-guided walking music and literacy tour of the downtown and Old Algiers areas of New Orleans.
There will be stops along they way where you can take a free tour (Preservation Hall!), get 2-for-1 drinks (Hotel Monteleone), and receive discounts on purchases (LA Music Factory). All you have to do is show the map that you will pick up at the start of the tour: Basin St. Station at 501 Basin Street.
The tour ends after a free ferry ride across the Mississippi River to Algiers Point and the Jazz Walk of Fame. Just a few steps away you will find Hubbell Library, a branch of the New Orleans Public Library, where there will be free food and drinks provided by the Bourbon House, as well as the chance to sign up for a library card and view the Jazz History posted on the walls of the library's temporary home: the Carriage House behind the Algiers Courthouse at 225 Morgan St. The library closes at 5:00 pm.

Since I've been dying to get Christie to come visit me, I sent her the link to the event and we made plans to go trounce around the Quarter. We grabbed some coffee at the Rue and then headed down to Rampart (after getting slightly lost in Mid-City, but I easily figured out where I was going! No small success for someone who has as many issues with directions as I do.)

First, we had to find the visitor's center to pick up our map. The map, as it turned out, was a kind of shoddy hand-drawn map of the Quarter. It was a little confusing and resulted in us going up and down the same block 3 times, trying to figure out the correct way to go. Christie remarked, "I think maybe this whole thing is an elaborate scheme to mug lost people."

Our first stop on the tour was the St. Louis Cemetery #1, to see the Musician's Tomb. While we were there, I showed Christie Marie Laveau's grave (and kicked myself for forgetting my camera). We strolled around the tightly packed tombs and hypocritically snickered at a tourist group. We then had the "walking the same block" experience, as noted above, which was maybe our punishment.

Next was Preservation Hall, which I've actually never visited. I don't think I'd want to pay for a tour, but it was cool to see. Almost like a little jazz church. Following that, we wandered through Jackson Square and considered getting a palm reading, in the spirit of the day, but decided against it because no prices were advertised and we didn't feel like trying to talk our way out of the situation if we asked and the price was extraordinary. We also passed a large, grungy looking man in Adidas sweatpants, wearing a "turban" and sitting beside a handwritten sign, advertising his services as a "clairvoyant, angelic, psychic fortune teller." We took a pass and headed over to the Faulkner book store in Pirates Alley (nice article on it here). I'd love to go back there when I have some money. It was very small, but a really lovely place to hang out, with a great assortment of books.

The third item on the list was the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone, with 2-for-1 drinks. Christie and I debated what we should order, mentioning juleps, sazeracs and mojitos, but I finally decided that I wanted a Pimms Cup, because it was sweltering and I needed something refreshing. The Carousel Bar was a pretty jazzy place. It is, as it sounds, a bar that spins very slowly. Not a place to get shitfaced, because, as Christie said, the spinning perfectly mimics the drunk spins (also, I'd feel like an asshole getting soused in such a classy bar). But as a place to sit and sip a couple of drinks, it was wonderful. I'd love to go back at night, because there are fiber optic lights in the ceiling and the carousel awning over the bar has old-fashioned light bulbs (not so great pic here on the Monteleone's website). I may see if my parents would want to go for my birthday.

We considered spending the rest of the day drinking, but we were both pretty tipsy already and very hungry. We decided to hit up a Cuban place we'd seen. As we stood outside looking over the menu, a man approached and told us, "You HAVE to order the porkchop. It's the best thing on the menu. You should split it, with the baked potato and a salad with oil and vinegar dressing. There's no passing it up! Get a side of guac. I eat here all the time, I'm a regular. The flan here is amazing, don't forget the flan, it's not that cheap stuff, it's really good. Hold on, let me get you a good waitress." We dutifully split an order of porkchop with a loaded baked potato, salad as prescribed and some guac. It was AMAZING. We never even made it to the flan, because we got so stuffed on everything else. I gave Christie my card to give to the waitress while I ran to the bathroom and when I came back, she said "check out that ticket." We were undercharged by about $3 (no extra for the loaded potato or the guac). We left a hefty tip. I am so going back there. I want to eat that porkchop every day.

We were pretty lethargic after our Cuban extravaganza, but checked out LA Music Factory. Both of us have been before and will go again so we didn't stay too long. The last leg of the tour was a ferry ride over the Mississippi to Algiers Point for the Jazz Walk. Riding the ferry was a lot of fun. I really love being on a boat; it reminds me of summer and family. There's something about the wind that comes off of a river. Maybe we were just dizzy with heat, full bellies and Pimms, but we were pretty loopy by the time we made it to Algiers. We just started wandering around the town, exclaiming over adorable houses, being lost (being lost in Algiers seems to be a developing habit of mine), talking with locals and basically forgoing the entire last leg of the tour. We ended up at the last stop, the library, where I got the Coke (diet, blech) I'd been lusting after for hours (why didn't I get it with lunch? Or at the bar? I don't know. I wanted a FREE Coke.). After about 10 minutes, we decided to take the ferry back to NO proper. We began sleepily walking back to the car but, at my insistence, we stopped at Southern Candymakers for a praline (me) and a turtle (Christie). Okay, I also got a dark chocolate cashew cluster and a milk chocolate raisin cluster, both of which I greedily devoured, saving the praline for later (my whims, they make no sense).

All in all, it was a wonderful and educational day, made better by being on the cheap. Though I have to say, we hardly learned anything about poor Satchmo at all, except that there is a statue of him in Algiers.

Tonight, fun continues--I'm going see a band and see Ann off (well, technically I'll see her tomorrow morning, after I hand over her tranquilized kitty, but that'll probably be a rush).. I'm feeling better than I have all week. Almost sunshiny! Time for dancing!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

don't we always die trying anyway?

Lately I have been really worried about what I'm going to do about money in the next few months. I have bills coming up that are going to wipe out the last bit of money in my checking account and rent is going to decimate my savings. I need a job. I probably need jobs. I've applied and applied and nothing comes back. I know I need to just go and get a job waitressing but I know that waitressing by itself probably isn't going to cover $750 a month in rent plus bills. It's probably going to take 2 jobs.

And I begin to wonder...what am I doing here? Why did I leave a good job, a job where I probably would have been able to go to school at LSU to get the same degree I'm getting here? Why did I move here for what is basically a bullshit degree? Why am I doing this to myself?


It's easy to get pulled down in that, especially in this precarious position. And I have to remind myself: I'm here because this is one of the few times in my life that I will have a chance to do something on my own. I have friends and family, people who love me, rallied behind me, but in the end, it's just me. I needed to get out of Baton Rouge, even though I didn't realize it at the time. I needed to cut the safety net and do it alone. Because if I would have stayed, I would have lived with that feeling that I wasn't trying and that often leads to apathy. I'd stop wanting to try, occasionally wondering what might have happened. I had to give myself that chance to do something bigger, to go to Tulane and maybe get into a Ph.D here and live in New Orleans by myself and earn my own way and figure out what I want. Because until we step outside of those boxes, it's hard realistically say "I want this." Well, it's hard for me anyway. In just the month I've been here, I've felt more at home in my own skin than I maybe have ever felt. Sometimes it's awful and painful and sad, but sometimes, little moments, it's a kind of exaltation. Realizing I could be alone was freeing for me. Not that I want to be alone forever, but I think that doing it for awhile gives one a sense of clarity and a sense of self that is difficult to attain otherwise. For me, it's also been a lesson in fortitude, or maybe a reminder of it--that I can be strong when I want to be.

So when I get down, I just keep telling myself, "Push yourself. Give it your all. Make it work. Make. It."

Monday, September 6, 2010


I just realized that, for all I talk about food, I don't have a food tag. So I'm adding the tag "vittles and viands" to any food related posts. I think it spans the gamut nicely from corncob wine to the recipes of award-winning chefs.


This weekend I:
-Baked a loaf of bread
-Read and got tipsy on my porch
-Received an excellent critique on a paper ("This is an excellent essay. I love the different levels of analysis and how you resist the easier interpretations of the speech. (...)You make a number of insightful points about Gorgias and Protagoras, and your conclusion is very suggestive, since it represents precisely the problem with treating this group of thinkers as belonging to a “movement”. This is a very good start and I look forward to reading more of your work. You have the right focus on subtlety and nuance to excel in this course.")
-Went to a party that I was really nervous about attending and ended up having a very good time.
-Got lost in Algiers Point
-Met up with friends at 3 am and had more fun.
-Twice lured Fred the cat out from under the house with Suzanne Goin's leftover chicken after said friends let him out.
-Had breakfast at Oak St. Cafe
-Took a 3 hour nap
-Applied for jobs
-Had a breakfast of homemade toast, homemade stewed peaches and tea
-Unpacked more boxes
-Tried in vain to set up my electronics (how I've lost 3 RCA cables, I do not know)
-Listened to a lot of Motown-esque music
-Had a good talk w/ Ravi about relationships
-Made plans with two friends for this coming week
-Bottled (jarred) some corncob wine
-Worked on a paper for school

All in all, it's been a very productive holiday weekend.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Today marks one month that Ravi and I broke up. A month ago, I stood in my grandma's driveway and hugged Ravi goodbye. We both cried and promised to always be there for each other and said "I love you." He came back 2 days later to help me move but, there we were. Single.

The day after the breakup happened to be August 4--what would have been our 3 year anniversary. Ravi sent me flowers at work, with the following card:
Thank you for making the last 3 years so wonderful! I've tried my best to remain stoic to make the last couple of weeks more bearable, but it's been really hard to hold it together. I love you and will miss you more than I can explain. I feel like I'm leaving a part of me behind. I hope no matter what that we will always have a close friend in each other. Please come visit.
Love always,

I almost went to visit him this weekend, but we agreed it was still too soon. I hadn't even thought about the date significance. I'm glad I didn't go just yet. It would have been heartwrenching.

I guess this is the part where I say this has been the hardest month of my life or something, but it hasn't. It's not even been the saddest (though really it's only second to some very significant deaths). This breakup has been very strange for me, in that I'm not reacting to it in a way I'm familiar with. I'm not down in the pits of despair, fantasizing about suicide or running away (though the thought of never having existed occasionally flits across my mind). I'm sad, but I've only had about a week or so of that kind of desperate I-will-never-feel-good-again sadness. I feel guilty about it in a way, like I should feel so much worse about this breakup. But I realize that I'm just sad in a different way, what I think is a healthier way.

But I'm still sad. And I miss my companion. And a huge part of me wishes that I was in Austin right now. So I'm cooking and listening to music and doing what I can to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

15 albums

There's a meme on Facebook right now, asking people to list the "fifteen albums you've heard that will always stick with you." I thought I'd post my own list here for posterity, with some notes

This is the list I posted to FB:
1) Ani DiFranco- To The Teeth-I first heard this album when I was 15. I had downloaded "Pixie" on a late night Napster binge, drawn to it because "Pixie" was my nickname at the time. I listened to that song for HOURS. Later that same week, I was in Wal-Mart with my mom and saw "To the Teeth" (the irony of that kills me now. I realize now that the album must have just been released and Wal-Mart might have had a few copies before realizing the content/language. I used to love picking up unedited CDs at Wal-Mart). Of course I had to have it and the album has resonated with me in different ways for the last 10 years and I always find myself listening to it at transitional times in my life (break ups, new relationships, moving, graduating high school and college, etc.).

2) Smashing Pumpkins- Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness--The soundtrack of my teenage years. I was obsessed with the Pumpkins. I used to have a tradition of playing this CD every time I got a new car (I'll have to tell the story of my high school cars one day...it's nothing pretty).

3) Janis Joplin- Pearl- One of the first vinyls I ever bought. I've listened to and loved Janis since I was in the womb.

4) Bessie Smith- Nobody's Blues But Mine- The first album I bought at LA Music Factory in NOLA. In my first semester of college, I took a theater class that required us to see 3 plays at LSU. One of these was Ma Rainey's Black Bottom and I did some research on the title character. I went to LA Music Factory wanting to but a Ma Rainey record but either they didn't have one or it was out of my price range. I had heard a few Bessie Smith songs before and remembered that she was influenced by Rainey, so I bought this record. During this time, I was seeing a therapist and I moved out of my parents house for the second time and got out of a detrimental relationship. The first night I moved in, I put this record on and turned off all the lights and sang myself to sleep.

5) Feist- Monarch- This album is chock full of great breakup and love songs. I listened to it a lot when I first thought Ravi and I were breaking up, which also happened to be in the middle of my senior finals. It's been on constant rotation ever since.

6) Simon and Garfunkel- The Essential Simon and Garfunkel- Someone said that using compilations wasn't true to the spirit of the exercise, but I actually own this (double) album and its the one that sticks with me, so I think it's acceptable. I don't really have a backstory for this. It's just a set of some really great music. I will say that sometimes, when listening to S&G, I remember a passage from one of the BSC books (R.I.P. my set of these--THANKS MOM.), one of the Dawn books, when Dawn notes that she knows her mom is depressed because she's listening to Simon and Garfunkel.

7) Stevie Ray Vaughn- Texas Flood- I seem to have a thing for second-wave blues. This album reminds me of my parents especially my mom, who LOVES SRV. She and I used to dance around to this, especially the song "Pride and Joy."

8) Broken Social Scene- Broken Social Scene- Ravi introduced me to BSS and, in a way, this album reminds me of him. But, it's also a stand alone fantastic album. In the heat of senior finals, when I was typing two twenty page papers, living off of coffee and Taco Bell and sleeping on the floor of the Delta office, I used to put "Windsurfing Nation" on repeat and type as fast as I could.

9) Radiohead- OK Computer- This is almost cliche, it's on so many lists. But that doesn't negate how fantastic this album is.

10) Decemberists- Castaways and Cutouts- I know "Picaresque" is the popular favorite, but there are just more songs that I like on C & C (music factory). This album reminds me of Winter 2007, being sad, spending lots of time with Nancy and Devon.

11) Fiona Apple- Tidal- Poetic teenage angst. I used to scrawl Fiona lyrics in my journals, especially around the beginning of college.

12) Tori Amos- Tales of a Librarian- Reminds me of post-Katrina, being discouraged but also meeting and loving a ton of new people, singing "Cornflake Girl" with Christie and Josh.

13) Lauryn Hill- The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill- I was obsessed with this album when it first came out, especially "Everything is Everything" (which I still love to listen to for an uplift.) I still think it's Lauryn Hill's best work and better than The Fugees The Score. Plus, lots of run to sing/rap along with.

14) Jeff Buckley- Grace- I tend to think this one is self-explanatory, though I haven't seen it on anyone's list. I've always flirted with this album, especially "Hallelujah" but it too went into heavy rotation around breakup time. This album always provides a certain very strong memory for me...it snowed the morning of my French final, my very last undergraduate final, and I was running on 1.5 hours of sleep (after finally finishing those 20-pagers). I had "Last Goodbye" on my iPod and as I crossed the street to enter Francioni Hall, it came to the bridge of the song ("did you say/'no, this can't happen to me...'"). I felt like running, like flying. Since then, I always feel a rush of adrenaline when I listen to that part of the song and it brings me right back to that sleep deprived, freezing, exhilarating moment.

15) Red Hot Chili Peppers- Californication- I almost didn't put this because I thought I'd get laughed at, but you know, fuck it. I love this album, have loved it since it came out and it holds a crazy amount of memories for me. And, frankly, I loved a lot of the mainstream music between 1996 and 1999.

Honorable mentions:
Arcade Fire- Funeral
Smashing Pumpkins- Siamese Dream
Madonna- The Immaculate Collection (my first CD!)
Ani DiFranco- Not a Pretty Girl
Tori Amos- Little Earthquakes
Beatles- Abbey Road
TLC- Crazysexycool
Rolling Stones- Sticky Fingers
Nirvana- Nevermind
Pearl Jam- Ten
Alice in Chains- Dirt
Everclear- So Much For the Afterglow (look I KNOW. But this album addressed that crazy depression I felt in my teenage years and it resonated with me. And sometimes I still listen to it and sing/scream along. It's like pop music cut with glass.)

101 in 1001-August addendum

23) See 26 movies I've never seen, starting with each letter of the alphabet.
H- How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) (August 2010) (this was a really cute movie! Kind of predictable in that way a lot of movies from that era can be but still had a lot of good laughs in it and some great actors)

24) Learn 1 new word a week and use it.
Encomium- a speech or piece of writing that praises someone or something highly. (I think I knew this word once, back in Greek class, but since I had to look it up and I've used it lots since, I will include it as my word of the week.)
EDIT- On the official list, this is going as "Sept. wk 1" b/c this week was more Sept. and less Aug.

55) Cook 10 challenging dishes from celebrated chefs.
1) I cooked Devil's Chicken Thighs over Braised Leeks from Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques for Ann on Monday night as a small token of gratitude for how immensely helpful she's been, re: living in New Orleans (if it weren't for her, I wouldn't have my lovely little apartment!)
This dish was challenging in that there were A LOT of steps. Luckily I cooked the leeks around 2:30, so I had a little time to rest (and bake a quick chocolate loaf cake) before Ann came over. I was especially thrilled with the chicken, as this is only the second time I've cooked chicken in almost 4 years and the first time, it came out a little on the dry side. This came out really well though, if I do say so, and I've been munching on the leftovers ever since (especially those leeks, which I need in my life at least once a month. Though I noticed that after eating them Monday night and again, Tuesday afternoon, I got a very bad headache. I've heard of people getting migraines related to raw alliums, but this was only a bad headache and they were cooked. Hopefully unrelated!).

I'm also reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which I never finished the first time I started it about 12 years ago) and I'm about to start reading either Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil or Revolutionary Road.

Full list here