word of the day

Mono-tasking

nobby\NAH-bee\
adjective: cleverly stylish : chic, smart

It’s been a month since I moved out of New York. Wait, scratch that. Five weeks. Well, five and a half. Aside from losing my grip on the passage of time, I think I’ve been managing quite well. Setting an alarm is a rare necessity, naps are frequent, I assume the role of kitchen assistant almost everyday and, when I get the chance, promote myself to CEO when the time is right (aka when my Mom has a long day). I made it to a yoga class on Wednesday, run mid-afternoon errands and meet friends for lunch or happy hour. Every week I apply to at least two or three jobs and make verbal commitments to set aside time for writing. It’s bliss. But…  Read more…

The Sunday Stretch

retrocede\ret-roh-SEED\
verb: to go back :recede
:to cede back (as a territory)

I have recently discovered that it might actually be nice to make a habit of waking up early on Saturday and Sunday. Usually, on weekend mornings, I can be found, dozing but not quite sleeping, in my bed. 11am is a good hour to get things started. Back in college I could stay stationary till about mid-afternoon.

This past Sunday I was awake at 9 (which is still technically sleeping in, since I wake up anytime between 7:30 and 8 on weekdays). My Mom was coming in to town. She arrived around 10:30am and we promptly set out for brunch at Square Meal. The walk over to 92nd and Madison was pleasant, and our brunch? Even better… the food tasted as fresh as the spring green paint on the wall looked. I had bread pudding French Toast (and a side of bacon of course) and, since my normal breakfast involves a 150 calorie bowl of Special K, let’s just say I needed to walk. So we took a leisurely stroll around the Central Park reservoir and before retroceding to the apartment, tackled the new Fairway grocery store on 86th and 2nd. We were back by 3pm. Whew! (And yes, the Fairway experience is another post.)

Time for a nap.

4pm rolled around and I was back to busy, cooking my lunches for the week with the produce and poultry we found at the Fairway. After a glass of wine and a bit of couch time, we ventured out once again for dinner at Spigalo on 2nd Ave. Keeping quaint, we sampled baked clams and modest bowls of bucatini pasta, mine with tuna and plum tomatoes, my mother’s with assorted seafood in a light marinara sauce. Finished with a blueberry tart.

It’s amazing how getting up just a few hours early seems to make the weekend that much longer. And it’s equally as pleasing that I seem to be able to actually relax on Sunday, and avoid the fret and worry duo until Monday morning. Having Mom around helps.

Stockpile

Word of the Day: beguile
\bih-GHYLE\
verb 1: to deceive by cunning means
2: to draw notice or interest by wiles or charm
3: to cause (as time) to pass pleasantly

Most of the time the ads in the subway are for movies or alcohol – specifically Absolut Vodka. But this past week I’ve noticed the walls of the 86th street subway station on the upper east side have been flanked with the announcement that a Fairway grocery store is coming to the neighborhood.

This is exciting news indeed. In fact, the first time that I went to a grocery store in New York, I went to a Fairway- the original on the upper west side near my first apartment. I grabbed a cart like any good grocery store patron would and navigated the narrow aisles carefully, adding pastas, produce, and poultry. It was only when I was in the check-out line that I realized I had only my hands as means to transport these items back to my apartment – which was a three block walk. Not to mention the three flights of stairs. The impatient clerk asked me if I wanted delivery service and while I contemplated the ease of such an idea, I finally decided to balance the bags on my arms and, like a loaded workhorse, carry my own weight back home. After that, I only used baskets.

Maybe most people go to the grocery store once a week or, for those of us in the city, possibly twice. Okay maybe three times. Getting just what you need is a city-standard. But someway or another, the stock in the fridge and on the pantry seems to add up. Not only do I buy more than I need (despite my efforts to keep it light) but I opt for Chinese take out or a slice of pizza and leave the fresh stuff in the crisper.

So after last Monday’s trip to Gristedes on 89th, I decided to use as much as I can from my apartment market to beguile my tastebuds before heading to the Fairway which isn’t slated to open until the 20th of July. Tonight I baked salmon and topped with a lentil soup mix from the pantry. Not bad for leftovers.

Drained

microcosm\MY-kruh-kahz-um\
noun 1: a little world; especially : the human race or human nature seen as an epitome of the world or the universe
2: a community or other unity that is an epitome of a larger unity

Starting last Friday, my kitchen has been on a slow, minor meltdown. That morning, I was working on the dishes and I felt a rush of water at my feet. Looking down, I saw water pouring out from the kitchen cabinet; it seeped along the already warping linoleum tiles, threatening the hallway’s hardwood floors. I quickly ran for towels and after sopping up the mess, I opened the cabinet door to investigate. A pipe, running perpendicular from the actual drain was dripping smugly. Several dozen paper towels later, I got things under control within the cabinet and resumed my stance at the sink. Then I turned on the faucet and did it all over again.

Thankfully, I was heading out for the weekend and thought that almost 48 hours without h20 would leave the sink dry and good to go. Any clogs might evaporate or decompose (ewww) and worse comes to worse I’d pick up a bottle of DrainO and conquer the unruly pipe.

Well, Monday was a crazy day. And, my fitness trainer gave me one hell of a talking to, which more or less meant that if I didn’t get on the treadmill everyday for the next five weeks, I would end up wasting a significant amount of money and end up loosing a measly number of pounds. After that, I didn’t feel much like DrainO.

But I did end up making a Pyrex casserole dish of chicken, a batch of sauteed broccoli and brussel sprouts and a pot of rice. Then I used a plate to dish up my dinner, and a fork, and a knife. There were a few serving spoons involved and colander. I had a “sink full” of dishes with no sink to wash in.

I had two options. The first, the bathroom sink is about as shallow as one of those seashells you find on the beach. So, I turned on the hot water in the bathtub and went to work. I bent awkwardly over the faucet and soaped up pot, and pan, and knife, and fork and impatiently waited until all traces of soap were gone from their surfaces. After rinsing each piece I ran back to the kitchen to deposit it into the drying rack, as if I was on Nickelodeon’s Gag or Guts or whatever show it was that made fools out of the willing.

Tuesday, after a sushi dinner, I stopped at Duane Reade and found the DrainO. The last bottle. Dumping it down the faucet, I fixated my gaze on the drain that was bound to spurt. It didn’t. But an hour later it did. This time with the stench of poisonous chemicals that probably shouldn’t be going down drains in the first place. Papertowels back in hand, I was back in the microcosm of my kitchen cabinet, sopping up water and chemicals and rust. I waited for five minutes and turned on the hot water, in the gentlest of streams. It trickled and twirled down the sink and, for what seemed like ten minutes, there was no drip from the unruly drain. As long as the faucet wasn’t on full force, it seemed as if, for now, the gremlins of the drain would be kept at bay.

Loud Noises

unctuous\UNK-chuh-wus\
adjective
1a: fatty, oily b: smooth and greasy in texture or appearance
2: insincerely smooth in speech and manner

I officially desire to spoil someone else’s fun. Not in a nanny nanny boo boo kind of way. I just want to stop it. Plain and simple.

I have reason to believe that new people moved into the apartment right below mine, and that they are boys. They are the kind of boys who listen, repeatedly, to bands Dave Matthews Band and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and anomalous smells emanate from behind their door. They are also the kind of boys that have deep voices which painfully reverberate in the pipes of the radiator in my living room – but the voices only start around 10:30pm on the weekends. They usually leave around midnight, and return around 4:00am. Sometimes they throw up on the stairs and leave cans of beer in the corners.

I know they are most likely recent college grads, and I know that, just a few years ago, I was a recent college grad. I have been to plenty of parties like theirs in apartment buildings just like mine, all over the city. In fact, these parties have started at 10:30pm or later. And, normally, I’d like to think that this wouldn’t be a problem; I have/had more of a social agenda than staying in on Friday nights with my cat. However, today I am a recovering flu victim, and sleep is a precious, precious commodity.

I know I should just take a sleeping pill and put the issue to rest. But I don’t have any sleeping pills. And if I knew I wouldn’t be so unctuous in my manner when I visited their apartment to ask/yell/plead for them to stop their galavanting, well, I would have already “been there, done that.” I can’t join them.

Perhaps I could leave a passive aggressive note on the front door – “Dear Tenants who like to have Parties, You SUCK. Signed, Anonymous.” But that wouldn’t be very effective. It might even make them party more. Perhaps I could give them the likely dates that I might be “in for the night” so they could calendar their escapades around mine.

Ugh, maybe it’s time for a bottle of wine… a vintage for my aging spirit.

Dexter: Season 3: Disc 2

plaguey\PLAY-ghee\
adjective: causing irritation or annoyance : troublesome

I am about to miss class due to a head cold that has turned my noggin into what feels like an alien’s nest. It is quite possible that those little green characters from the Mucinex commercials are there too.

So, I figured that I would tune into the blog and share something that has been mulling over in my mind for the past few weeks. Dexter Season 3, Discs 2 – 4 have been in my Netflix queue for months – not just a few weeks (like the long wait FAQ says is the usual case) – but months. Well before the holidays. This plaguey wait is particularly frustrating due to the fact that Dexter Seasons 1 and 2 came and went without trouble. And to top it off, I have now watched Dexter Season 3, Disc 1 twice! This was only because I naively thought that, since it had been so long since I had seen an episode, a refresher course was needed.

The simple fact is, I cannot imagine that every single last DVD from Dexter Season 3, Discs 2-4 has been held hostage in people’s homes since December, or November – whenever that the “long wait” appeared in passive aggressive lower face red type in my queue next to the DVD titles. There are quite a few other TV shows with just as much appeal as Dexter waiting to be watched. Netflix says so, based on my like of violent crime dramas, they have suggested several. But I want Dexter.

I find it a bit disconcerting that there is actually a genre on Netflix labeled violent crime dramas and that, from my queue, they have gathered that I am into them. Yikes… I mean what is it about crime anyway? Violent crime that is… it seems like these types of shows are flooding the networks – Criminal Minds has to be one of the hand down creepiest, aggressive, gory shows on network television. And they are coming out with a spin-off.

If I can’t have Dexter, I will politely decline any other violent crime drama suggestions for that of a different nature; White Collar, thankfully, was readily available when I added it to the top of the queue. I just watched the first episode of season 1 at Annie’s the other night, and Matt Bomer’s blue eyes aside, the premise of the show was actually pretty captivating. Not to mention there was absolutely no bloodshed… just clean-cut, good-old con-man crime. Ah, gotta love it.

Jets

ossify\AH-suhfye\
verb 1: to become or change into bone or bony tissue
2: to become or make hardened or set in one’s ways

There comes a time when the stars align and the word of the day fits the bill perfectly. Yesterday, while the Jets were beating the Patriots – and making quite a few people happy – the word brought humor to our conversation that snuck in and around first downs, fumbles, and an interception (Tom Brady’s first since week six of the season).
That’s about all I can say about the game; a sentence or statistic more and I might risk over-exaggerating my knowledge. Football is entertainment. Whether the team playing is one you like, or don’t like, your toe will tap. You get wrapped in, and you want to jump up and down… be loud and passionate, like the hundreds and thousands of other fans watching. Or at least I do.
Yesterday there was a point in the game, when the Jets ossified their lead with another touchdown, and the team’s collective celebration (which included Rex Ryan shoving a camera man out of the way) was slowly smothered with a penalty. And while the NFL is particularly persnickety about remaining tactful, I cannot help but wonder why they didn’t just let them revel, for a small second or two, in bliss.
This reminds me about the other ways in which professional athletes celebrate (wrestling aside since I believe that the performance might be entirely celebratory). Tennis – the winners usually end up groveling in a painful splendor on the court. Golfers get a valedictory fist pump or two. But in football, and in basketball, there is celebration but it’s always abrupt, cut short, and somewhat stifled. Sometimes players get too excited about the celebratory gyration that they botch the play. Alas, the penalty is proven necessary.
At the end of the game – one of the Jets players did a backflip while many of them tottered around the field, arms up like the wings of, well, jets. Their limbs still didn’t find their sides as they faded into the darkness of the locker room. The Jets, as if they hadn’t already, stole the show.

Tourism, a Causerie

cohesive\koh-HEE-siv\
adjective:exhibiting or producing a condition in which people or things are closely united

Last week I handed in two complete, cohesive essays. And since I have limited bandwith to write anything additionally creative, I think I’ll include the beginning pages of one of my essays, on tourism…

The Tourism Kaleidoscope

We continued on our journey, in Cappadocia, Turkey, winding around the tunnels of underground cities and awkwardly climbing into basalt rock caves like children playing politely on a jungle gym. Fatih, our tour guide, was always with us, never ahead or behind; he stuck with us like a friend and casually shared bits of information, instead of lecturing or teaching. I watched a few tourists from other groups gravitate toward his voice as he whispered local secrets; swells of jealously toward these trespassers rose within me. We strolled together through the open-air museum of Göreme, a Christian monastery turned national park and World Heritage Site, which contained more than 30 rock-carved churches and chapels and vibrant frescoes from the 10th, 11th, and 12th centuries.

Treading in and out of the caves, I began to notice the relevance of my camera. When I would bring it to my eye, Fatih would stop and retreat to the background, avoiding the picture. It was there, in Göreme, that I decided I no longer wanted to be that tourist, the one who thrives on picture taking, thereby seeing an entire trip through a secondary lens, the one who relies on context, and the one who travels to a country to observe instead of experience.

Sometime before I got to Cappadocia, I became aware of the concept of tourism as something that had lost its panache. A tourist, “one that makes a tour for pleasure or culture,” sounds fashionable enough, but it carries a bit of baggage. Picture a group of “them,” folks touting pickpocket-proof carry-alls, wide-brimmed hats, camera lenses, pearly white sneakers and their eccentric, energetic leader carrying a neon-colored flag or balloon. Sunscreen spoils native aromas, and whimpering kids drag the soles of their sneakers along squeaky floors, leaving trails of rubbery goo. This scene is as immediate to the term tourist as a box of Kleenex is to the word tissue.

Today, you should be one of several things: a “traveler”, a “jetsetter”, a “globe-trotter”, a “trekker”, a “vacationer” or a “staycationer”, anything but a “tourist.” You should have “insider info” and avoid the typical spots that function as feeding frenzies for picture sharks. You should dress to fit in with the locals. If you are American, you should look un-American. You do not want to be one of the brainless sheep with a fanny pack. Accordingly to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), plenty of tourists roam the globe: “In 2009, travel for leisure, recreation and holidays accounted for just over half of all international tourist arrivals (446 million arrivals). Some 15% of international tourists reported travelling for business and professional purposes and another 27% travelled for specific purposes, such as visiting friends and relatives, religious reasons and pilgrimages, health treatment, etc.” This is a pastime here to stay.

Helter Skelter

Word of the day:
Skelton (noun): definition TBD

So today, Sunday, I am up early. It’s 9:30(am)! Since leaving New York on Tuesday evening, I have had one main objective: sleep. To date, my sleep count is 62 hours in 5 nights. This is awesome.

So back to today, up early, and I find myself in a quiet house. My parents are off to Lancaster, to drop my Grandmother off with my Uncle, and I am here, undisturbed for at least another hour. After making a pot of coffee, burning some bacon, and smoking up the house – I have decided to sit down and work on my final projects for grad school.

But, not until I check Facebook. And it so happens that, today, I needed to ace one of those word puzzles to get in, which is either a sign from above that I should just call it quits or a precautionary measure from the site, some level of security that I don’t really attempt to understand.

I needed to enter the following words: Skelton and Column. Column is easy, I’ve been spelling that since the third grade. Skelton is… not a word. Now, most people might not care but, being the scholar that I am, I stopped to think twice about why these people who make up these puzzles actually choose “words” that aren’t really words. They definitely wouldn’t win Scrabble. Do they want to keep people on their toes? Or just confuse them? Or play a joke on some poor innocent facebooker and make them feel helpless and brainless? (I know I am hinging on the slightly scary/pathetic conspiracy theory here, and no, I won’t go there.)

So I looked it up. (Thanks Google.) And “Skelton” really does actually exist:
– Skelton is a village and civil parish in the unitary authority of the City of York, in North Yorkshire England
– Representative Ike Skelton (D – MO)
– Burges High School standout quarterback, John Skelton
– The world’s greatest clown, Red Skelton

There we go. Mystery solved.

Career Spotlight

renovate\REN-uh-vayt\
verb:to restore to a former better state (as by cleaning, repairing, or rebuilding)
:to restore to life, vigor, or activity : revive

Yesterday, after attending a reading by five poets from the women’s movement, I hailed a cab on 116th and Broadway. I got into a prius (yay, my favorite of cabs) and was whisked away crosstown, back to the Upper East Side. The middle-to-senior-aged driver had an amazing mustache and a pair of classic spectacles. The thing about the prius cabs, unlike others, is that there is a vast amount of open space that allows for conversation between driver and rider. Sometimes, this is not a good thing, but tonight I was feeling congenial.

“Did the Yankees finally win?” I asked.
“Yes, finally! About time they started winning.” The driver answered.

That got us started. Picking me up was almost like Déjà vu, he explained. Just an hour earlier he had stopped for a professor, who had been tied up in class, unable to watch the game, and asked the very same question about the game, hoping too, that the Yankees had renovated their talents. Continuing to chat, I found out that the pitcher from Texas, whose name slips my mind, is going to make $200 million next year, that the cab driver teaches dancing lessons – more specifically international folk dance in Central Park – as his primary career, that a Gemini’s best match is really a Gemini, and that he thinks I should either work/write for the President or become a diplomat.

I really liked this guy! I told him that yes, I actually did contemplate at one time or another becoming a diplomat because “diplomatic” is one of the words that people use to describe me most often. He also said I was a polished conversationalist, which would surprise many people (including my Mother and Father, who had recategorized my communication skills as “Dulcy Speak” years ago).

So, according to the fab Mr. Cab man, I need to call up some diplomats and start talking to them about how it all works, get some ideas, and start making my way. It was about that time that we found ourselves on 88th street behind a posse of ConEd trucks. Not going anywhere. “Hey, Buddy,” someone shouted, “Didn’t you see the road closed sign back there?”

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