Back off assholes, I called first dibs!
Back off assholes, I called first dibs!
What struck me about Cleopatra’s story (aside from EVERYTHING in her phenomenal life) is how her divinity was unquestioned across the board, by both her peers and her subjects. As legend went, the Ptolemies were descendants of the gods. Cleopatra was believed to be a living goddess, an immortal among mortals.
She was not the only one of her contemporaries believed to be divine. Far from it. And yet today it’s preposterous to believe someone is a god, or a descendant of one. Absolutely out of the question. They have prescription drugs and mental institutions for people who believe such things.
What I want to know is why was Cleopatra’s divinity so readily accepted? Was it just so absolutely ingrained in the religion and culture and way of life that it just was, no questions asked? What from our society will be balked at as beyond comprehension? Hatred, bigotry, and treatment of others? Organized religion and associated beliefs? Dependence on biofuels?
Clearly I’m stretching it a bit. But still. What is so mind-blowingly bizarre and unfounded and ridiculous that we blindly and unquestionably accept in today’s world? It’d be fascinating to know.
*In the interest of full disclosure, please note that I received a complimentary copy of Cleopatra: A Life courtesy of From Left to Write. Book club members are not required to write about books received; the above thoughts are freely given.
Who said running isn’t a contact sport? Jen would be proud.
I finally took the plunge and invested in an “adult” camera. In other words, a digital SLR. I plan to take a photography class or two to learn how to maximize its use, but in the meantime I’ve enjoyed tinkering with it around the house on occasion.
Or as the landlord says, it’s a kitten photo shoot in here.
This may be the best damn chocolate chip cookie I have ever made. For all that I can bake, cookies give me the most trouble. (As do brownies from scratch, but I think I’ve finally cleared that hurdle.) Every recipe is different — sometimes they should be pulled out early, sometimes late, and it’s entirely too easy to miss the mark altogether. Maybe because I’m a chewy cookie girl and try to make every cookie into a chewy one. Maybe. (Why crunchy cookies exist, I’m not sure. Talk about a waste of calories.) Whatever it is, cookies tend to be my culinary nemesis. I have the hardest time making them just so.
And then I stumbled upon this delightful little recipe by Heidi Swanson, who crafted her version based on Kim Boyce’s chocolate chip cookies. Two of my favorite cooks of all time and one masterful rendition of the classic. Dense, moist, chewy, not too sweet with a terrific crumb — mind-blowingly good. And whole grain to boot. These women are geniuses.
Needless to say, it’s bangin’. I finally have my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Fiery hot chilies paired with cool cucumbers. Spicy, sweet, tart, and well rounded. Best of all, it’s as easy as can be.
I ate it plain, but may try pairing it with fish next time. Would be a stellar addition to any barbecue. Most definitely a welcome addition to the rotation. Recipe courtesy of the ever inventive Big Girls, Small Kitchen.
I love my long hair. Perhaps I should use the past tense: I loved my long hair. And then it became something I clung to. Youth, beauty, sex appeal — all of these things are attributed to long hair. Somewhere in my subconscious I was convinced a large part of my attractiveness was due to my long hair. It took me entirely too long to realize just how sick of it I was.
You see, the last time I chopped my hair off I was fifteen. I walked into the salon and handed my scissor-happy hairdresser a picture of Lisa Kudrow sporting a cute layered ‘do. I figured I’d look like this glamorous pixie with gloriously easy and perfect hair. Enter invaluable life lessons #876 and #877: A, I look horrible in layers. ATROCIOUS. They make me break out in hives. And B, be EXPLICITLY clear when going for an extreme revamp in hairstyle. Also, don’t be afraid to fire your stylist.
For starters, short hair is not easy. More importantly, when you have a prominent jaw that looks great on your male sibling but isn’t the most feminine of features, short hair makes you look round. And potentially somewhat androgynous. (In the years since growing out my hair, whenever someone sees a picture of me during high school they comment on how I’ve lost weight. Rather, I’ve gained somewhere in the ballpark of 10-15 pounds. We’re talking ROUND.) Life lesson #878: Hair cut to one’s earlobes is to be done with the utmost care and understanding of all the consequences it will most surely entail. This I learned the hard way.
Hence I swore I’d never cut my hair short again. And I haven’t. I want to be drop dead gorgeous and sexy! And then one day I snapped out of it. Not only was I finding myself admiring girls my age with short hair (some with hair shorter than I’d ever dare, sporting those phenomenal pixie cuts) — and sexy short hair at that — I finally realized just how sick I was of the same look I’d had for well over a decade.
So…you see where this is headed. I chopped it off!
I think I’m onto something.
NPR had a neat piece today on the original globe-trotters: tomatoes, coffee, and pepper. It’s so amazing to me how simple ingredients have evolved to impact so much in history. It reminds me a bit of Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History, only far more concise and to the point. Def a very cool illustration.
This one goes out to Pops, who is hopefully enjoying his favorite Coors Extra Gold at some point today. Maybe even go crazy and have two.
Love you Popperito.
I can’t decide if this guy is cute or creepy. Either way, he’s got me jonesin’.
If only they knew how close they come to the glue factory sometimes.
Guess who’s back on the horse, baby. Running regularly is finally (finally!) a habit again. I spent nearly two months reconditioning myself by running a few days a week after work. I (slowly, frustratingly) morphed from a gasping, lumbering mess to a not always gasping and more delicately lumbering mess.
At various points over the last six months I Googled for a running club closer to our house. Running with Marty et al in Potomac is great, minus the forty-five minute drive each way and the fact that they’re crazy competitive beasts who are constantly training for yet another marathon. If and when I put another race on the calendar, you got it. In the meantime, waking up at 5:30am on a Saturday to run sixteen miles isn’t my idea of a good time. Hence I Googled. Fewer miles and more sleep had to be somewhere.
Enter Big Daddy Running Club. The group meets three times a week: Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. The kicker is they meet early — 6am during the week and 7am on Sundays. Oof. The awesome part is they meet down the street — literally down the block; I can spot them from my front door.
For a week or two I set my alarm and ran at 6:30 or so. Early enough to get it in (and over) before work, late enough to give myself an extra hour of sleep. Finally two weeks ago I followed through with my good intentions: the alarm went off and somehow I forced myself out of bed. Even the cats were caught off guard — still out cold and not yet yowling their heads off to be fed.
It’s been great. The worst part every time is forcing myself out of bed. After my groggy shuffle and kitten feeding I brush my teeth and pull on a sports bra. By the time I reach for my shoes I’m nearly late and hustling out the door. By the time I get downstairs I’m wide awake. Three miles goes by infinitely quicker with running buddies. And I’m making new friends! How cool is that? And then it’s over. And just like that I’m awake, alert, and happy for the jolt to my day.
8:30 miles, I eat you for breakfast. Next up: mastering the 14th Street hill. And my midsection.
I made these for the boy last Saturday in anticipation of his birthday. Kick off birthday week with a fun yum and all that.
Four ingredient nutella brownies couldn’t be easier. They could, in my humble opinion, be yummier. They were far too cakey and crumbly for my taste. My heart firmly belongs to the dense, rich, chewy brownie camp — none of this cake-like cop-out mumbo jumbo. My other stumble involved the cooking time: the recipe makes cupcake-sized bites; I made the traditional 8” x 8” brownie pan. Which means they were severely undercooked at 12 minutes and a tad overdone at 20. It seems 16-17 minutes may be the sweet spot for the traditional size.
In lieu of nuts (yuck), I substituted semi-sweet chocolate chips over half of the batter. I preferred those without (a bit too sweet and chocolately and overkill for me) and the boy preferred those with (no such thing). Are we a match made in heaven or what?
I do plan to try them again. Perhaps tweaked (less flour, shorter baking time) to encourage them toward the chewy end of the spectrum. Could be a killer recipe if perfected.
The June book for the From Left to Write book club is The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey. The book, a sort of scientific observation / memoir hybrid, chronicles Elisabeth’s days and nights while seriously ill and bedridden.
Not much detail is given as to her condition aside from the fact that she cannot move — the simple act of rolling from one side to the other is strenuous and exhausting; sitting upright is out of the question, even while supported by a hospital bed and pillows. Rather, the narration focuses primarily on her thoughts, and how they’d drift from her room and her present condition, to the thriving world outside, to her past. And how brutal and relentless one’s own thoughts can be, and how sad and forlorn one can feel.
And then she’s given a snail. Elisabeth, like most of us, initially thinks “what on earth am I going to do with a snail?” But the snail, with its slow movement and reliable habits, provides both entertainment and companionship. Before long, Elisabeth finds herself researching snails and growing ever more fascinated with her gastropod friend. I did too.
We at From Left to Write are not supposed to give book reviews but rather relay an experience of our own that somehow relates to the book. Thankfully, I have never been seriously ill or bedridden for an extended period of time. If there was ever anything that “paralyzed” or removed me from the bustling demands of everyday life it was my travel abroad.
Sure, I had my own hustle and bustle and stresses and demands. But the typical nine-to-five grind and associated stress was not only absent from my life, but given detached consideration (bordering on disbelief) as if I were an alien observing an uncivilized planet: Why do they do that to themselves? Can’t they see it’s a pointless waste of time? After a while I simply didn’t get what my friends were stressing over. Boring meetings and annoying coworkers and juggling a zillion errands on the way home via public transit — who cares. It’s just a meeting. Tell the person to shut up. Quit your job. Do something interesting. At least your groceries are identifiable. And street signs are in English. You know where you’re going to sleep tonight. PEANUTS, PEOPLE.
Elisabeth marvels at how much her friends move. Families, children, errands, work — move, move, move. Even while sitting in her room for a visit they’re moving: pacing, gesturing, fidgeting. It exhausts and perplexes her. Why so much unnecessary movement? How do such insignificant things (who’s going to take so-and-so to the dentist and who’s going to fetch the milk?) consume our lives and come mean so much?
I feel like that too sometimes. Take traffic, for example. When I didn’t have a commute, I didn’t understand why people got so pissed off in the car. It’s traffic. It’s to be expected. So you’ll be a few minutes late. Big deal. Leave earlier next time. Embrace the suck; it’s not the end of the world. Why speed and tailgate and honk and swear and spike your blood pressure through the roof? It’s just not worth it. And yet. If you are not a fast, efficient, considerate driver who is deft at decelerating without touching your break you are a FUCKING JACKASS should you cross my path. Or worse, cut me off, slam on your breaks, refuse to drive 15-20 over, and neglect your turn signals. There are A LOT of Meg-cursed drivers in the DC Metro area. I tell you what. I should take up voodoo.
It makes me want to leave again. Why does forgetting to distribute the passcode for the conference call-in number wreck my day? Why does having a rude country bumpkin employed at the drycleaner make me want to throttle something? Why does being cut off by a thoughtless asshole who refuses to use his or her turn signal make me want to condemn them to an Indonesian prison? Why do I lose my head over such insignificant things?
I understand feeling detached and perplexed at such foolishness. When you’re carrying your every belonging and not certain where you’re sleeping that night everything else seems trivial in comparison. When you’re confined to lying absolutely still and horizontal on a bed for years, running late to a meeting or accidentally forwarding an email to the wrong recipient seems unimportant and not worthy of stress or bother. When you slow down and take a deep breath and extricate yourself from the craziness, you learn to appreciate stillness and quiet and being alone in your own head. And sometimes a snail revitalizes your life.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well-written, entertaining, unique, and refreshing. Scientific, yet based in thought and emotion. Interesting. Really makes you take a moment to savor the small things. Fuck the thoughtless drivers.
*In the interest of full disclosure, please note that I received a complimentary copy of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating courtesy of From Left to Write. Book club members are not required to write about books received; the above thoughts are freely given.
Some people use binoculars to spy on their neighbors. We have Frank.
Is this thing on?
When I was a teacher, people used to ask me what it was like. I usually told them one of two things:
“Picture doing your job, whatever it is, only there are 30 teenagers in the room with you who DON’T WANT TO BE THERE AT ALL and you need to get them to finish their work so you can finish yours. And when the hour is up, there’s a new batch of 30 teenagers.”
“It’s like being what I imagine a stand-up comedian is like. You have to work the room, always be “on” and don’t let them see any weakness, otherwise, you’re toast. When a lesson plan goes well, you killed. When a lesson plan doesn’t go well, you bomb.”
Now, similar things could be said about many jobs. I’ve had many jobs, none of which demanded the same minute-to-minute concentration and challenges that teaching demanded. There are certainly harder jobs than teaching, but there are far more jobs that aren’t nearly as hard.
I miss Mrs. Cavalli.