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Last Build Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 06:02:22 GMT

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I miss you terribly when you're away

Thu, 30 Mar 2017 06:02:22 GMT

I posted about Erica's impending visit on Twitter and just thinking about her being here (for three days!) made me well up with tears. There were a few years I saw Erica five days a week and we'd still make plans to hang out on the weekend. She's one of the best gifts HarperCollins ever gave me.

The other night Jeremy took me on a FaceTime tour of his new apartment, in which he's cohabitating with his awesome girlfriend (first time for both!). He was so proud to show me his new furniture. I am psyched to see it in person and I know it won't be for months because, you know, we live on opposite sides of the country.

I am very glad I moved here for so many reasons, but good goddamn I miss my New York friends so, so much. This is why I got a credit card that earns airplane miles, right? Note to self: Don't hoard them like Smaug's gold. Take some damn trips this year.

Recipe: Boiled Cider (a.k.a. Apple Cider Molasses, Cider Syrup, Bottled Autumn)

Thu, 25 Oct 2012 17:06:09 GMT

I've started blogging over at I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

There will be no apple cider as good as the cider my family and friends pressed every autumn when I was growing up, which has more to do with what went into it than the actual taste. My godparents, Dick and Margaret, lived in a farmhouse in Alderwood, a small town 30 minutes north of Seattle now known for its mall. Dick and Margaret, two artists, loved the land and the modest-but-roomy house. They ended up with a small apple orchard, which yielded far more apples than they could ever eat, so they’d invite a bunch of folks over for a day of apple picking. We’d dress in our flannels and our boots, climb ladders, scour the grass below, and use pole pickers to collect every single ripe fruit, which we’d haul over to Ray and Nancy’s house. Ray and Nancy were consummate hosts…and owned an antique cider press. For weeks, everyone had been rinsing out their plastic milk jugs, stockpiling them, waiting for the day they’d be able to fill them with fresh-pressed apple cider. It was a full day of sticky work and everyone was tired by the end, but what a triumphant moment when the last bushel of apples was dumped into that press and the last drops of cider poured out. We looked forward to it every year, and that delicious cider never lasted as long as I would’ve liked.

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Recipe: Easy Make-Ahead Taco Salad

Thu, 18 Oct 2012 17:01:30 GMT

I've started blogging over at I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

The other day, I posted this on Facebook: Fact: Taco salad is the best salad. Not a single person dissented; many agreed quite vocally. Seriously, what’s not to love? Taco salad can feel somewhat virtuous (though frequently it's far from it), it’s a little more kicky than your usual garden greens, and it's fairly customizable. One complaint I often hear about eating salad for lunch is that you wind up hungry by 3pm. Not so with a taco salad! There's so much happening in there, so many good, filling ingredients, that you'll be satisfied till supper. When I was growing up, we’d often have taco salad for dinner. Matthew and I loved this meal and happily ate it out of an enormous salad bowl in which Papa tossed everything together, but if you have fussy little ones, it's easy to do individual plates of taco salad, omitting the undesirable ingredients as needed. Feeding a crowd? For heaven's sake, make a taco salad! I've yet to meet a person who was not delighted by the appearance of a bowl of these Mexi-ish greens.

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Recipe: Better Chicago-Style Hot Dogs

Tue, 16 Oct 2012 17:00:42 GMT

I've started blogging over at I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

Confession: Hot dogs are directly responsible for me quitting vegetarianism after more than 15 years. You guys, I love hot dogs. My brother, Matthew, and I used to split a package of Lit'l Smokies when we came home from school (for the record, that’s four servings each; it’s a miracle we're not dead). I like a hot dog off the grill, I like a boiled dog, I like a dog charred in the flames of a campfire, I like sliced dogs stirred into stovetop mac and cheese, I like pigs in a blanket...I even like tofu dogs, but when I was faced with a hot dog at my first Mets game in Shea Stadium, I folded like a cheap suit. Folks at my old magazine caught wind and asked if I'd eat meat for a week and write about it. The rest is history. Sweet sweet sustainably-and-humanely raised animal-eating history.

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Recipe: Ginger Ale Syrup, Now with Real Ginger

Wed, 10 Oct 2012 15:37:10 GMT

I've started blogging over at I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

In my childhood home, there were always three sodas: caffeine-free Coke, root beer, and ginger ale (preferable Canada Dry). My Papa and my brother were the real soda drinkers, but given those options, I usually gravitated toward the ginger ale. As I got older, I learned that most canned ginger ale is a lot tamer than many bottled varieties, and my allegiance lay with Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew. I like the burn, friends. I like a ginger ale that doesn’t just politely ring your doorbell but instead bashes in your front door, shakes the rain off its coat, and leaves muddy footprints in the entryway. That’s a soda I know I can bro down with—not just a delicately flavored vehicle for sugar and empty calories, but a soda that feels like a full-bodied treat, loaded with nuance and spice.

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Homemade Vanilla Extract: Laziest Gift Ever

Tue, 09 Oct 2012 15:34:26 GMT

I've started blogging over at I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

Last year, I asked my food-loving friend Lauren if she’d like to undertake a culinary project with me. When I was small, my family made big-batch gifts all the time—jars and jars of homemade pickles or jam, preserved bounty from our garden, etc.—and often my Papa and Dede make ambitious trios for Christmas presents. One year: chili oil, Worcestershire sauce, raspberry vinegar. Another year: chili powder (Papa smoked the chiles), Herbes de Provence (Dede picked and dried the lavender), curry powder (Papa toasted and ground all the spices). Clearly, this is in my blood, but I live in New York City. Storage space is tight and I live far from at least half the intended recipients. A food gift seemed unmanageable.

Still, the idea of covering all my gifting bases with one project stuck in my craw until I saw a blog post that showed a small child making vanilla extract. You guys, a child. I think we can all agree: I’m not going to be outdone by a four-year-old. Extract is a fantastic project to start out with. It is extremely quick, requires no specialty tools, can be done by small hands (see this blog post to see Annelise, my 4.5-year-old motivator, helping her mom—but don’t store your stash in the window!), requires almost no cleanup, and results in a gift nearly everyone can use in a variety of ways. What’s not to love about vanilla extract? Commercial extract is made by soaking chopped-up vanilla beans in liquid that is at least 35% ABV (usually ethanol). However, sweeteners and colorants are often added, and the quality of the beans is not regulated. Blech. With this project, I could guarantee my friends were getting a quality pantry staple that would make their treats delicious all year long. Even better, when you’ve used about half the bottle, you can add more booze, give it a good shake, and your beans will keep flavoring the extract. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving! Did I mention it was pretty inexpensive? The cost per bottle drops as you make a larger quantity, and if you’re not mailing anything, it’s downright cheap.

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I Totally Nailed It

Fri, 05 Oct 2012 15:25:22 GMT

I've started blogging over at I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

I have a longstanding relationship with nail varnish. When I was little, my parents bought me bottles of Tinkerbell’s Bo-Po polish. Bo-Po stood for “brush on, peel off,” thus encouraging little girls everywhere to litter their homes with fingernail-shaped baby-pink detritus. I was enamored. Later, as both a camper and a counselor, I used to drag a Caboodle[1] full of bottles with me to camp every summer; though I’m sure my camp director probably scowled about it, I painted quite a lot of fingernails in those days. In high school, I went through a period of wearing an iridescent, shimmery Wet n Wild lacquer that my Papa described as “necrotic.” When I dated a guy who really liked nail polish, I made myself a personal challenge to wear a different color each weekend when I headed down to Philly to visit him. I had a special polish I wore every time I refereed a Gotham Girls Roller Derby bout[2]. What I’m saying is, I like the stuff.

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Recipe: Finger Lime Curd

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 15:22:41 GMT

I've started blogging over at I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

Last year, my Papa sent me a surprise package of goods, unbeknownst to me. He’s the kind of guy who does that, you know? I opened a nondescript box and out tumbled these curious green objects. What on earth were they? I did some googling and figured out he’d sent me finger limes, a microcitrus from Australia (not a true lime at all, actually). This wild fruit has only been cultivated commercially in the last couple decades and only within the last few years have they really come to the U.S. In the last couple years, a farm in California has been growing and selling them from trees they imported. And friends? They are delicious! They taste a bit like a lemon-lime combo with a slightly floral note. And they’re fun as hell.

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Recipe: Thai(ish) Turkey Burgers with Quickle

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 15:19:25 GMT

I've started blogging over at I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

I was a camp counselor for many years at an amazing summer camp in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. Camp Huston works with an international company that matches young people abroad with camps in the States that want foreign staff members. Huston ends up with a number of amazing exchange counselors each summer (though exchange is a misnomer, as few Americans go abroad for similar reasons, since “summer camp” is an almost uniquely American conceit). The kids love it, the staff love it, and I’ve personally ended up with some amazing friendships as a result (shoutout to my best Dutch pal, Ivo).

One year, we had a lovely young man from Ukraine named Alex. Alex mostly wore too-short nylon running shorts with tank tops and had a real enthusiasm for American culture. We worked together one session and, on a rainy campout, set about making a vegetable stew for supper. I asked one camper to dice the potatoes and toss them in the aluminum cooking pot; Alex fairly flew off his tree-stump stool. “You must peel them first!” he insisted. I shook my head. “No, don’t peel them. We want the peel! The peel is where the nutrients are!” Alex shook his head gravely. “No, the peel is where the radiation is.” Alex had grown up near Chernobyl, I discovered, and his relationship with food from the ground was very, very different from mine. This is my best example of the way “edible” means different things to different people. My uncle eats apple cores. As kids, my brother and I met someone who ate the frilly green tops of strawberries so we took up the practice in what I can only assume was a state of half bravado and half contrariness. Someone once told me that kiwi peel is edible so I learned to rub the fuzz off and eat the whole fruit at once, out of hand. The prospect of all three of these things has horrified countless people in my life.

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Just One Shade of Grey

Sat, 30 Jun 2012 19:58:20 GMT

I've started blogging over at a site my fella created for us, I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

I‘m not sure I remember the last time my hair was completely and totally lacking in artificial color. Bless my parents’ hearts, their general attitude was that I could do whatever I wanted with my appearance as long as it wasn’t permanently physically altering (crazy “permanent” hair color that would eventually grow out = fine, stupid fingernail polish = fine, glitter-ringed eyes = fine, facial piercings or tattoos = not okay). In junior high, I started adding chunky blonde streaks into my brunette hair, which I sometimes colored with food coloring for a temporary change-up. At my high-school graduation, I began my love affair with bright colors, showing up for commencement with fire-engine-red streaks instead of my typical ’do. Then I went purple. Then I went black with thin blue streaks, which I called “Superman Hair.” There was an enormously ill-fated attempt to go calico and also try a pixie cut—I wound up looking like a Presidential wife. I had jet-black hair for a while, and I’ve had some pink more often than anything else. My attitude has always been that hair is an accessory and it grows back, so I should have fun and not be scared to try new things. In the time that Mike and I have been together, I’ve worn at least eight different cuts/styles, and a few different colors.

Despite all this experimentation, there’s always been a fly in the ointment. I absolutely love playing around with my hair color, but I never, ever want to look like a person who is intentionally covering up her grey hair. My stylists roll their eyes when I say it, but if there were a way to color just my brown hairs but leave the grey ones alone, I’d do it in a heartbeat, damn the cost. I love my grey hair. I always have. And when I say “always,” I mean that I began going grey at age 16. Yes, you read that right: sixteen. I distinctly remember my old pal Nico standing above me at our lunch table, gleefully counting out the grey hairs he saw along my part. I always thought they made me look distinguished, and I wore my sporadic grey hairs as badges of an old soul.

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Restaurant-Style Tomato Salsa

Sat, 30 Jun 2012 19:53:12 GMT

I've started blogging over at a site my fella created for us, I'll link here when I post there, in case any of you are interested.

Yeah, I know Cinco de Mayo was a couple months ago, but really, salsa didn’t become America’s favorite condiment based on one barely understood holiday’s consumption alone. (According to Jerry Seinfeld, it’s America’s favorite condiment because people like to say “SAAAALSAAA.”) The thing about salsa is that it is, hands down, one of the easiest things to make. I’m not kidding you, screwing up salsa is very, very hard to do. I almost never make it the same way twice, because I’m always playing around with what I have on hand, and salsa really just means “sauce,” so you can have fruity salsas and chunky salsas and very smooth salsas and salsas with cheese in them and oh gosh, some folks even say guacamole is a kind of salsa. My mind is bended! What I’m saying is, your salsa can go in a lot of different directions, and it’s easy to fix mistakes, particularly in a fresh salsa.

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Meal Planning, the Heather Way

Sun, 11 Mar 2012 03:27:31 GMT

A number of people have asked how I make my meal plans each week, so I spent too much time and went into too much detail this morning. Please! Bore yourself and read on! If you just want some links to some vegetarian dinners, skip to the end!Google documents, google calendar, my iPhone (previously, my iPod touch), and online resources like Pinterest, foodgawker, and blogs (read on google reader) make it possible for me to work in the way that I do. Mike and I share our google calendars with one another, and these are synched onto our iPhones. On my calendar, one of the subcalendars is Meal Planning. A while ago I set up two recurring events: Lunch and Dinner. Both are set for Monday through Friday, same time each day (1–2pm, 730–830pm, respectively). The time is largely irrelevant and sometimes we don’t assign a meal for all of the slots. If we go out to eat before a movie, for instance, I may just write "Chipotle" in there, or I may just delete the slot from the calendar altogether if that meal is part of a formal event like "H&M Dinner with Jeremy at Hill Country Chicken." We very rarely eat out for lunch—perhaps once a month—but I like to plan it in as a little treat sometimes. It's also a good way to compensate for a week when we don't have enough leftover-producing dinners (see: “Out” for Thursday’s lunch in the calendar below). I don’t make a recurring slot for Saturday/Sunday because those meals are often elaborate (note this coming Saturday's "kitchen adventures" with Luke and Lisa) or sometimes two in one (like a big brunch that tides us over for two meals). Breakfast is not noted on the calendar either, as Mike and I have our standard ruts that we're in. I usually eat some combo of the following: Greek yogurt, homemade granola, uncooked oats, cooked oatmeal, frozen berries, seasonal fruit. Mike usually eats one of the following: cooked oatmeal, Cheerios. On weekends, I typically make us a big batch of smoothies and some kind of omelette or muffin or something, but that's based on whim because I always have serviceable ingredients on hand. In one go, I either plan a full week or sometimes just six days depending on when we’re able to fit in grocery shopping. (And for you non–New Yorkers, we walk 15 minutes to the grocery store and carry an entire week’s worth of groceries home! If it’s an absolute ton or if we rode our bikes, we get delivery.)If I'm really on the ball, I'll get started midweek so my plan doesn't take any long sit-down time and is instead assembled piecemeal, sometimes on the train, sometimes at work, sometimes when I'm surfing the internet at night. That's the beauty of the documents being stored in the cloud—I can add one recipe to the calendar at a time, tack the ingredients on the shopping list, sync it to my phone, and then kick that information out of my brain and switch to another task. I like it when I'm that thorough. I'm not usually that thorough. Most often I sit down on Saturday mornings to "finish up" the list (read: "do all of it except for the one meal I already planned").First, I look at our weekly events calendars. I obviously don’t have to worry about any days we’re both planning to be somewhere, and on days that I’m going to be out, I know that Mike will be the only one eating, so I ask him what he wants to make/eat. He frequently takes this opportunity to make seafood for himself. Then I go to my variety of resources (blogs, cookbooks, magazines, etc.—usually collated on Pinterest) and figure out what I want to make. I try to cook meals that obey the following restrictions, t[...]

On anniversaries

Fri, 04 Mar 2011 05:55:37 GMT

My doctor asked the purpose of my visit today, as I sat up on the exam table, swinging my legs like a three-year-old. "Well, as you know, I donated a kidney last year. My surgeon was insistent that I get a physical every year to make sure everything's running as it ought, so here I am." I'm sure my surgeon didn't mean I had to make my appointments to the day, but somehow it seemed a fitting way to mark the occasion. I like observances. I think I'll make this a regular thing, this Kidney Day Physical.I talk about how lousy 2010 was, but really there were a couple of incredibly high points. Of course, there was the wedding, and as much as Saj and Derek's sentiment in the photo booth was clever and sweet ("May this be the worst day of the rest of your life" -- could you die?), that weekend ranks pretty damn high in my all-time best weekends of forever and ever amen. Today is an anniversary of a different sort, though. On this day, one year ago, I was having strangers write on my belly in purple Sharpie. Other strangers were cramming my legs into hilarious, tight-fitting socks. Still more were poking me with needles and giving me pills to get me to just STOP TALKING ALREADY and go to sleep. And then I said goodbye to my Papa and to Dede and to Mike and I don't remember anything else until I woke up, hours later, convinced I was the fucking funniest patient ever to wake up from surgery. You guys, I was KILLING in that recovery room. There has been no person more amusing than I was right there, at that moment, blinking my eyes for ten seconds at a time and cracking slow, semi-lucid jokes.I was wheeled over to see Dede and was told that my kidney -- my smaller, less-productive, but well-tended and now well-traveled kidney -- had begun working immediately upon hookup. I've never in my life been so happy to hear that a grown woman wet the bed as I was then and there, still three sheets to the wind on anesthesia, trying not to smile too broadly for fear I might drool on myself. In my hospital room an hour later, Papa and Mike were finally allowed to see me. I tried to talk to them a bit but the opiates took over and that's when the days became a blur of sleeping and waking, staring and grimacing, blood draws and breathing games, trying and trying and trying to pee, and painful laps around the wing in the "Cadillac of walkers" (which I was repeatedly told Dede did better and faster, damnit). Honestly, I don't remember those days as individual units of time, but I do remember being simultaneously scared and excited to leave the med center that Saturday, happy to get to the next part. The next part was a week and a half of labored loafing at the Thug Mansion, punctuated with uncomfortable sleep, even more uncomfortable colonic distress, and some incredibly loving friends and family. By the end of that now-surprisingly-short trip, I could ride in the car and go for walks on the treadmill, even if I couldn't comfortably wear grown-up pants.In the early days, we got updates on Dede's health pretty frequently: Now she's down to fewer than 20 pills! Now she's off certain meds that usually take much longer to ween! Now she's taking walks to the fire station! Now she's allowed to drive! Now she's cleared for less-frequent labs! Now she's back at work! For comic effect, I liked to take credit for some of these things, as if I had produced some kind of King of Kidneys that made it all possible. Mostly this was a way to normalize and slightly disguise my overwhelming amount of relief and happiness that things were going according to plan -- better, even. There was much less news on my end, as I got back to work and felt normal fairly quickly. I still can't get over how relatively "easy" it is to lose an organ. Bodies are [...]

Oh, New York. You are tiny.

Tue, 16 Nov 2010 21:52:41 GMT

When fact-checking something about StoryCorps for work, I ran across an audio interview with Ed Trinka. Ed, it turns out, is the same Plaza doorman that I used to say hello to every single morning when I worked at HarperCollins. Each morning, rain or shine, I'd walk past the side of the Plaza and Ed was there, waving hello and wishing passersby a good day. One day, I stopped, tromped up the stairs, and asked him what his name was. "It isn't right," I said, "that I should say hello to you every morning but not know your name." From then on, Edwood and I exchanged felicitations each morning, personal-like. Somehow I found out when it was Ed's birthday, and I brought him some cookies. In early 2001, when the Plaza was selling its units as a residence, Ed saved a copy of the fancy-pantsy brochure to give me, possibly proud because he was featured in photographs inside.

I miss Edwood occasionally, just like I sometimes miss working at HarperCollins. Hearing his voice today and finding that he's sprinkled all over the internet really brightened my mood.

The StoryCorps interview is here.

In This New York Magazine article, Ed has a great quote about the Fab Four during 1964's Beatles Invasion: They were always in and out too quick—I never even got an autograph. It was just crazy with the girls screaming and the cops on horseback pushing people back. I was 19. When they went back to Liverpool, they took the [coat] hangers with them. Two years ago, they returned them to me. The guy who was the announcer on the Hard Day’s Night DVD said, “On behalf of the Beatles, here are the hangers that we took 40 years ago.”

Hez + Miz 9.25.2010

Sat, 30 Oct 2010 06:15:27 GMT

Well, that went better than we ever imagined it would. We are two lucky so-and-sos.

On the eve of my wedding, an honest story of prideful angst

Fri, 24 Sep 2010 13:04:58 GMT

So...I'm getting married tomorrow.On January 17, 2008, Mike and I went on our first date. I had this to say when I wrote a filtered post from work the next day: "I'm trying to be low-key about this but it's hard when my first dates have been SUCH disasters and this one finally finally finally was good.... I promised myself I wouldn't show you pictures or get all super moony until we go out on at least one more date, though. Still, I can't seem to shut up about it to Erica so I thought it only fair to write it up here. I smiled on the whole subway ride home." Then we had a second date a week later. And a third date less than 24 hours after that. We were, as they say, off to the races.And now I'm about to marry that guy who chose to advertise himself to the dating world of New York with a photoshopped Edwardian-gentleman self-portrait. We've had a lot of adventures together, though I'll admit there were more adventures in the early days (like when we posed naked for Spencer Tunick, or when we went on a quest for snow and discovered Kingston, New York, exploring it by lamplight as the fluffy stuff fell around us. It feels a little like adventures gave way to stress and anxiety. It has been, to put it mildly, one hell of a rough year. We had a fantastic 2009. We moved in together, we adopted cats, we traveled to one another's stomping grounds for the holidays. 2009 was grand. 2010, on the other hand, has been pretty shitty. We have regularly remarked to one another that one of the few bright spots in this year is the wedding. For a while it was this far-off thing. It was this twinkling gem of "once September hits, everything will be wonderful again," and it kept us going through a lot of tough stuff. Mike's company folded and he began the long, slow quest for full-time employment. I had major elective surgery (a good thing, but certainly an emotionally draining thing). I got hit by a car while riding my bike. Mike continued to look for work. And the whole time, we planned this wedding.But somewhere along the way it stopped being a sparkley beacon of delight and it just became this thing. This thing that I spent all my free time thinking about. This thing we were pouring money into and that just wouldn't hurry up and HAPPEN already. I'm an excessive planner -- a list-maker to the nth degree with a black belt in covering all the bases -- and I spent too much free time playing the wedding puzzle. I typed lists on my iPod touch. I had google documents (shared!) that I perused every day. I have two wedding folders labeled "Word files" and "Excel files" and they're both pretty full. I read every wedding blog known to man. When I was "just" riding the train in the morning, I'd shuffle around the wedding reception playlists. I'd wake up too early in the morning to pee, and before falling back asleep I'd jot down a few notes and make another appointment on my calendar.I don't think there's anything unusual about this mental state, really, but it's a particular challenge when you're partnered with a man whose brain is also all full-up with a goal, and that goal is finding full-time permanent employment again. We've both been fairly single-minded these days, but our single minds are not pointed at the same thought. That's not ideal. People keep asking me how I'm feeling in the days that lead up to the wedding, and I keep answering, "I'm excited. I'm not only excited for the event, because it'll be important and communal and fun, and for seeing all my very best people in one place, but I'm also excited to GET MY FREE TIME BACK AND NEVER DO THIS AGAIN." I don't mean that in a terrible way. I mean that I'm ready to get to the next phras[...]

On being indestructible

Tue, 20 Jul 2010 19:23:35 GMT

Short version: I was hit by a taxi. I'm generally okay.Long version: So, there I was, on my bike, not even a mile from my house, pedaling my piggy legs off to get to work. The bike path is heavily protected from traffic except at intersections, and as with any crosswalk, pedestrians/bikers and cars are both given a green light when traveling in the same direction. This is, as any New Yorker knows, only a problem when cars turning into the crosswalk don't pay attention. As I pedaled out into the crosswalk (legally, mind you), a cab came barreling through the intersection, having turned right on a green light (as he should have) without looking as to WHO was in the crosswalk (as he should NOT have). I shouted repeatedly and rang my bell (hah), but he did not hear me, and I was unable to evade him by the time I realized he wasn't stopping. He hit me. Hard. I slid down his hood onto the ground, beneath my bike, and after righting my helmet (which was now askew) and flexing my toes and fingers, I stood up and shouted, "Are you f*cking kidding me?" while standing in the middle of the lane. I may have anger management issues. A custodian at the school on that corner came running over, having heard the whole thing. Two traffic cops working the busy intersection came running over, having seen the whole thing. The cab driver got out of the cab and claimed he didn't see a thing. "I didn't mean to!" he said. While I'm sure that's true (who wakes up and says, "Today I'm going to hit a cyclist!"), it is irrelevant.The kind custodian picked up my (mangled) bike and my backpack and helped me to the curb. The taxi driver pulled his car over, crushing my water bottle, which had been thrown free of its cage, in the process. The traffic cops got all the driver's information for me, so I didn't have to focus too much. I called my boss, maybe cried a little out of shock (okay, definitely cried a little) and told him I'd be late. The custodian at this point had rallied his buddies and now there were three of them. One was sent on an errand to bring me bottled water, which he did, and he shortly left again only to return with two bags of ice for me. In recounting this, I get misty, because I am regularly touched by the kindness of strangers in this city. These three gentlemen, along with the two traffic officers, stayed with me until the ambulance arrived, and then the custodians took my bike, saying they'd hold it in the school until later, so I didn't have to worry about it with the hospital visit.Now, at first, I said I didn't need an ambulance. I'm a strapping young girl and obviously I was not damaged too badly, as I was able to get up and walk around (and wildly gesticulate and swear) without difficulty. My gathering peanut gallery, however, encouraged me to go, since you never know what you've bumped, and since his insurance would pay for it anyway if we filed a police report. Which we did. The supervisor of the two traffic cops showed up, just to make sure they'd done what they needed to do, and then the reporting officer showed up and took my information, giving me a number to call tomorrow to get the incident number (which I assume I will use when I call this cab driver's insurance company). The EMTs asked if I wanted to go to the hospital and I said I figured I ought to, though I felt generally okay, and they said that it's procedure to put me in a collar and on a board. "Sometimes it kinda freaks people out. Are you going to be okay with that?" I assured him I'm not the freaking-out type and if that's what he had to do, so be it. He sat for a while, holding the collar, with me sitting on the ground, and [...]

Wed, 03 Mar 2010 04:54:19 GMT

I've posted this on Facebook and sent it to a variety of people via e-mail, but just in case I didn't catch you, here's a big update about my surgery tomorrow. What surgery? In case you missed it, I'm donating a kidney to my stepmom, Dede, tomorrow morning. I have high hopes that all will be well. Of course, your finger-crossing is much appreciated.The short version is that surgery will take place early tomorrow. I go in at 630 and will be knocked out by 830am. It's expected that surgery will last for several hours and I should be in my first recovery room around 130pm. I'll spend a couple of hours there and will then be wheeled into my own private room where Mike will be waiting for me in the late afternoon. The less-good news is that, contrary to what I was told by the previous, inept surgeon, odds are good that I'll be in the hospital until late Friday, regardless of whether I have laparoscopic surgery or open. The good news is that my surgeon is pretty confident lap surgery will work. Your continued prayers/good wishes/etc. on that front are appreciated. I really like my surgeon and I'm going into this surgery with great hope. If you want the long version (which is interesting to people like me, but I understand not everyone is into this kind of stuff), keep reading. Yesterday Mike and I spent several hours at the UW Med Center getting prepped for surgery. I finally got to meet Dr. Careful (aka Dr. Baktha, a South Indian man with the best salt-and-pepper beard I have ever seen) and ask a lot of final questions of my nurse coordinator. I met someone from the anesthesiology team who explained the ways in which they would make me forget what was going to happen to me. I had my blood drawn and my urine collected (good news, I'm not pregnant!). And then I went out and ate copious amounts of food at Red Robin because A) we don't have it in New York, B) bottomless steak fries are proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy, and C) today I'm on an all-liquid diet and I won't feel like eating much for a while, so best git while the gittin's good. Today I woke up at 5:30am at the advice of my nurse coordinator to eat some breakfast. I have to ingest only clear liquids for 24 hours before surgery, which means I won't eat anything until sometime late Wednesday afternoon, so the idea is to stock up on nutrition right beforehand. I don't think it ever occurred to me how hard it'd be to muster up an appetite at 5:30am, but now I know. I attempted to eat things that would stick to my ribs and give me bang for my energy buck, but time was also of the essence and having a sleeping family down the hall meant I didn't want to clatter around with a bunch of dishes. Somehow I ended up eating two packets of instant oatmeal, a cold slice of pepperoni pizza, and a container of blueberry Greek yoghurt. Attempting to sleep on a terrifically full belly is not something I'd recommend, but I managed it eventually. As of now, it's a steady diet of Gatorade, water, clear juice, and broth. Between 8pm and midnight I will have to drink two liters of water, which means I'll be up half the night running down the hall. I am convinced that part of surgery prep is to make the patient as ornery as possible. As of midnight, I am not permitted any fluids until after surgery, at which point I'm going to make out with a cup of ice chips. Mike and I will hit up the anesthesiology clinic at oh-dark-thirty in the morning (6:30am) tomorrow where I'll get a new wardrobe. In addition to the anticipated hospital gown, I'll also have my calves measured for a pair of exceedingly close-fitting compression soc[...]

Mon, 15 Feb 2010 05:30:59 GMT

My parents were married on Valentine's Day. The story, as I remember it (and my memory ain't so good about old-timey family stories), is that Papa kept trying to set a date and his superior officers in the Navy kept denying him leave. Finally he suggested Valentine's Day. What kind of grinch doesn't let a guy out on Valentine's Day to marry his lady? They relented, and my mom and dad were married. So I grew up liking February 14. My parents usually celebrated with dinner -- sometimes with the kids there, sometimes without -- and there were gifts but I don't remember it being terribly ostentatious. I do remember one occasion when my Papa gave my mom an enormous Craftsman cabinet for all her tools and the waiter at the Chinese restaurant wheeled it out (this could've been for her birthday, now that I think of it, but I like to remember it as an anniversary gift on Valentine's Day). In our family, everyone gets cards for every occasion. Is it someone else's birthday? You also get a card and probably a book. That's just the way we roll. So I liked giving cards and making the valentine mailbox to hang off my desk at school and I liked seeing my parents happy and in love.I didn't really date until I was in college. I had a couple of "boyfriends" in junior high, but our relationships amounted to holding hands, long phone calls after school, and notes passed in the hallways. I didn't kiss anyone properly until college (that's another story for another time). But I still liked Valentine's Day in high school, even though I was busy pining away for nearly every one of my male friends and never doing anything about it. My best friend Emily used to bring flowers for all of us (tulips, often). Sometimes the Power Pentagon (a fivesome we formed in my Honors English class) would send candygrams and that sort of thing to one another. My brother and our friends and I decided we'd round up all the singletons, get fancy, and go to Las Margaritas, the local fave Mexican joint. This became a Bothell Crew tradition -- a tradition so popular that our friends who were IN relationships would come, because we had just that much fun. All of us, together, looking lovely and having a good time together is how I think about the Valentine's Days of my youth.In 2007, I brought that tradition to New York and organized a group outing to Mama Mexico. It was just what I needed that year as I tried to figure out what it meant for me to be single in this city. There were strangers, old friends, singing animatronic stuffed dogs, mariachi, and tequila shots. I made a mixtape with music that was about love but wasn't overly romantic. It was a truly great evening. The next year, I'd met Mike. We'd only recently begun dating, so we swore to one another there'd be no gift-giving. I did, however, buy him a tube of Burt's Bees because he'd recently lost his, but I wrapped it up all fancylike. Watching him unwrap the absurdly ornate gift was a highlight of my day -- that fear and anger at being the one who didn't get a gift turned to relief and good humor in a split second.A challenge for us is that our gift-giving occasions tend to be sort of smooshed together. My birthday falls on December 12, then we have Christmas, and less than a month later we have our anniversary. Less than a month after THAT, it's Valentine's Day. That's a lot of presents! And we don't need lots of presents! Last year, because we'd just moved in together, we didn't want to go crazy spending more money. Instead, we adopted cats. Commissioner Gordon and Astoria arrived at our house on February 14, 2009, and it wa[...]

Mon, 01 Feb 2010 06:24:07 GMT

Well, I fell right off that Good Stuff bandwagon, didn't I? Fail. It was for a happy reason, though: I was overwhelmed with freelance work. See, when I left the Publisher last year, I signed on for part-time at the Magazine. Fortunately, I started doing some graphic design freelance work to supplement that income, and though it has sort of ebbed and flowed (which is the way of things, when it comes to this kind of work, I guess) I actually came out on top. Whoo! In November I lost one of my biggest regular clients and it was a HUGE blow (I didn't do anything wrong, the budget was just cut). Two days before Christmas, while on vacation in Florida, I got a call offering me a full-time position because my boss wanted to reduce his hours. I'm not dummy, I took it. I gots a wedding to pay for, yo! And thank God, really, because did I tell you that Mike's company folded as soon as we got back from vacation? The whole fucking thing is closing its doors at the end of February, so he's been spending his work days beefing up his portfolio, working on his website, and sending out his resume. He's a talented guy and I have complete faith that this will ultimately be very good for him, but you can imagine how delighted I am that the last week has been mental as far as freelancing goes.I got eight graphic design jobs (!!!) and then my friend Timothy was going to be out of town for Sundance and knew one of his clients needed help pronto, so he hooked me up. I spent twenty horrible after-work hours scrutinizing end-of-year real-estate reports for NYC and the surrounding areas. I had a couple of nights of four hours of sleep, working until 3am then waking up at 7am to finish. Far be it from me to scoff in the face of money, but I'm glad to be over the hump. Today I hammered out three of the remaining design jobs (two more to go!) and I'm feeling QUITE accomplished. I absolutely bit off too much, but I made it happen anyway, and I have a bunch of sweet paychecks coming in to prove it. I wasn't altogether confident I'd be able to make this work when I quit the Publisher, and it makes me feel pretty damn awesome that within a year and change I've made more money than I made there but I've also greatly expanded my skill set, my resume, and my happiness with my work.With all this money coming in, I feel a little better about stimulating the economy on Saturday. I'm not a big shopper, but things were getting dire. None of my pants fit anymore and are starting to do that horrible paper-bagging thing because there's excess fabric when I belt them. Jeans shopping is one of my most hated practices, and it wasn't great, but guys? Guys? I came home with a pair of straight-leg jeans, a pair of skinny jeans, and two pencil skirts. I've never worn any of these items before. Always boot cut or loose fit or, good heavens, giant men's carpenter jeans. It's been an interesting evolution, from this to this (note: I still love green). Even crazier, some time in the last month I hit the single digits. I'm wearing a size eight now, damnit! And one of the skirts is mysteriously a six! I have never in my life worn these sizes and I'm still in a state of disbelief about it. I was a size nine in grade school. GRADE SCHOOL. Eleven-year-old Heather wore bigger pants than 30-year-old Heather does. Bananas.So I know it's vain, but really I'm looking forward to wearing my new, hot jeans tomorrow. And I'm looking forward to a couple of nights in which I can do something other than a metric ton of freelancing. I like revenue, but I like hanging out with Mike and[...]

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 04:36:06 GMT

Astoria is, without question, the Bad Cat. She's the shouter, she's the one who claws the couch, she's the one who hurtles her entire body weight against any closed door. She climbs through the venetian blinds, she chews on zipper pulls, she devours any plastic item left on the counter. She's B-A-D. Once every two weeks, though, she is my favorite cat. That's because she, more than any other cat I've ever had, LOVES it when we make the bed. She knows when we're preparing to do it and she lingers in the bedroom, waiting for the moment when we unfurl the fitted sheet (she'll wrestle with the unattached edges before we get a chance to hook them all around the corners). The real crowning glory of the bed-making practice for her is the top sheet. She'll wait in the middle of the bed and allow us to spread the flat sheet out on top of her, making our hospital corners at the bottom corners as she mills around like a mole underground. Sometimes I play games with her, scratching in top of the sheet so she'll skitter across the mattress, or poking her in the heinie so she'll spin around as quickly as she can. She'll often stay under the sheet when we put on the comforter, too, and only with prompting will she eventually make her way to the free end up top by the headboard and pop out as if nothing hilarious has happened.

I filmed it once and I watch the video when I want to remind myself that she's not a Giant Ball of Mischief all the time. Tonight we got a live performance and she was particularly enchanted that we put not one, not two, but THREE items on top of her (sheet, blanket, comforter) before we were finished. Happy Tuesday, Astoria.

Tue, 19 Jan 2010 04:18:06 GMT

I was away for the weekend, celebrating with Mike in Brooklyn. We got to stay in a sweet hotel so I can review it for work, and our proximity to ChipShop meant we enjoyed a very late breakfast in full English style. We ordered dessert, too, because why not, right? I'm here to tell you that Four Berry Stew with cream is a fantastic way to round out a breakfast of beans, tomato, potatoes, eggs, and toast (I didn't eat the mushrooms). Back at the hotel we lounged in our hammock (YES THERE WAS A HAMMOCK OMG) and watched the Golden Globes in bed while drinking fizzy water from wine glasses, wearing cushy robes and no pants. Yesterday's Good Stuff was easily rocking in that hammock, reading Mike old LiveJournal entries written when we first met. Man, we need a hammock. FutureHouse will definitely have a hammock.

Today was like being expelled from heaven and cast into the fiery pit in hell. The tow yard that had ahold of was worse than I imagined. A tiny, muddy lot surrounded by rusty razor wire, full of a couple of smashed up cars and my little Saturn. The "office," a rotting trailer, stood propped up in the corner. The enormous gentlemen inside, when taking breaks from eating hoagies or Bit'o'Honey, would lumber outside and then (and I wish I were making this up) PISS ON THE SIDE OF THE TRAILER. We waited for nearly three hours for the other towing company to come and take Ziggy away for donation, and really the only nice thing I can say is at least it wasn't raining. Once we got home, though, things perked up, and eventually Sophie and Emily came over to watch some Mad Men. We ate pizza and gingerbread and Christmas cake and, once the show was over, I did one of my favorite things: I lent books to both girls. Em is flying to San Francisco tomorrow so I put Hungry Monkey in her hands (after reading her my favorite bit about the Grim Reaper) and wished her well. Sophie had never read a particular genre before so I took out an anthology that has a little of everything in it so she could see if it's up her alley. Boy, I sure do love lending books. I love that I have books to lend. I love that I have friends who are eager to read, and willing to take my recommendations.

And now I think I'll knock off to bed. It's about time I got back to the gym. Tomorrow morning? We'll see.

On the observance of January 17th

Sun, 17 Jan 2010 18:34:56 GMT

Two years ago at this time I was at work trying to get psyched for a date that night. "You're not even wearing your good pants," Erica said to me about my slightly-too-large-and-too-short tan corduroys. "You must not be that excited." She was right. I'd been on a bunch of bad dates and was generally lukewarm going into this date simply because I'd gotten sick of being let down. It was cold and wet outside -- a "wintry mix" to a meteorologist -- and I was late, as usual. I didn't know it then, but my life changed after that date. My enthusiasm for this kid skyrocketed and we started spending as many free nights together as we could. I nearly ruined it by apparently giving him the impression that I didn't want to kiss him (DAMN IT) but managed to save the day with late-night boldness over instant messaging. Sometimes people ask when I knew that he was the guy for me, and honestly, it was really very early. I kept telling people at the time how great it was to be dating him because it was so EASY. I'd never had dating interactions go so well -- we were moving at the same pace, we wanted the same things, we got comfortable with one another absurdly quickly, we said what we meant and didn't worry about that being "scary" to the other party. Just over two months later we took a trip to Washington, D.C., and dropped the "I love you" bomb, though we both admitted to knowing it earlier and just trying to be reserved. We met one another's families that summer, and about one year after our first date we moved in together. Four months later he proposed. Later this year, we'll be married.

It's completely mad when I think about it like that. So much has happened in those two years. I've switched jobs, he's been promoted and then (recently) laid off. We met friends and made friends. I've moved, we adopted two cats that it's hard to believe we haven't had forever. We've taken two trips to Florida and three trips to Seattle. We've been sick and we've been well. We've seen plays and rock shows and museum exhibits and movies and even had our picture taken in the nude with one hundred strangers. My derby career accelerated and then waned. He's learned web design, I've learned more graphic design. We celebrated our first New Years' Eve together.

It's so exciting to me to think about the things I've learned about him and about myself in just two years, and to know that we have so many more years ahead. Happy anniversary, Mike.


Sat, 16 Jan 2010 06:10:00 GMT

I made it through the week! This was my first week of full-time since August 2008, and boy am I feeling it. It'll take me a little while to get used to this, I think, but there are perks, too. I had a great long chat with one of my (new) editors today to see if we can make this crazy machine run a little more smoothly. I have high hopes. I even got out of work early (well, early in the evening, but I'd put in more than a full day since I got in at 9am to read music listings). Leaving the office before six is such a luxurious treat. Then our great friends Luke and Lisa came over to eat (YUM) and watch Inglourious Basterds (FUN).

All of these things are great, but I laughed the most today (Good Stuff alert) about celebrity name typos in articles I read. My two favorites were Alana Rickman and Steve Nicks. I can't get enough of jokes about Alana Rickman. She was so great in Die Hard! And didn't you love her in the Harry Potter movies? That's not to mention Steve. I mean, who doesn't love the dulcet tones of Steve Nicks? Great singer; weird penchant for scarves, though.

This weekend is bananas. Tomorrow I'm seeing Daybreakers with Erica before hanging out with Tom and Annie (we may or may not go see Neil Gaiman narrate Peter and the Wolf). Sunday is Mike's and my second anniversary! We have an awful lot going on this year, so we decided to play it cool and not exchange gifts. Fortunately, an opportunity popped up for me to review a fancy hotel so we're getting a room at Nu Hotel in Brooklyn, gratis. Anniversary win! There is much to be thankful for. One of those things is gingerbread with fresh whipped cream OH MY GOD YOU GUYS.

Hee hee, Alana Rickman.

Fri, 15 Jan 2010 05:08:46 GMT

Today was a vast improvement over yesterday. After a good cry, a great e-mail from my Papa, and a night of sleep, I was ready to Put My Shit In Order, and put it in order I did. By noon the car debacle was sorted out. I'm paying out the nose to keep it at the towing agency over the weekend, but then a charity is coming to pick it up on Monday and then I will not have a car anymore and Habitat for Cats will get the proceeds from Ziggy (scrap or sale, I don't know; we don't even know if he runs). Work passed quickly and I even got to scoot home a bit early, which meant I got to start on my Good Stuff. (First I ran into Kirk on the subway; he was easy to spot because there are only a few men I know who have a limited-edition GGRD tote bag from 2008. Hi Kirk!)I've been craving parsnip soup a lot lately. It's winter, parsnip soup is very wintry, but I think it's also because I've been thinking and talking a lot about English cooking, and England ALWAYS makes me think of parsnip soup. Zach and I took a trip there just after Christmas in 2001 and we ate creamy parsnip soup at Leeds Castle, where it was the only vegetarian item on the menu. It was AWESOME. I had no idea parsnips were so amazing. They're sweet and earthy but not in the gross way beets are. They get better and better with roasting, but they're so wonderful pureed and added to soups. I love a good parsnip. I eventually found a recipe that I made a couple of times, but no parsnip soup will be as good as the one I had in Leeds. I think it tasted better because I could see black swans swimming in the moat while I ate it. Mike's parents got me a cookbook for Christmas that had an appealing recipe so I figured I'd give it a spin. It contained green apples, which sounded like a delicious complement (please note: it was), so I got to chopping, listening to the Grosse Pointe Blank soundtrack. By 8pm we'd inhaled bowls of the soup (which I topped with fried leeks and which we scooped up with pieces of hot, fresh bread) and Mike went off to the bedroom to work on web stuff while I...cooked some more. AAAAAHHHHHH.Our friends Luke and Lisa are coming over tomorrow to watch Inglourious Basterds and I wanted to make lentil soup (another wintertime craving -- did I mention I really love soups?). Since lentil soup improves upon sitting in the fridge, I just made the whole cauldron of it tonight. OH MY GOD you guys. I combined two recipes, kind of winging it, but I put crushed up grains of paradise in like I did last time, and that spice is just so much fun. I hadn't given thought to dessert until tonight, but as I was cooking I decided that gingerbread (cake, not cookies) would be appropriate -- earthy, rich, heady -- and I had the ingredients handy, so in the oven it went. I can't tell you how amazing my house smells right now. There's still a tinge of leek high on the air, there's lots of sweetness thanks to the cake and the apples and parsnips, but there's also a basenote of bacon and mirepoix and oh man, I never want to leave here. I just want to keep smelling this stuff all night. I put a bunch of CDs on and, though I didn't plan it, I ended up listening to a sort of Heather in 1999 mix -- Rushmore, Black 47, Great Big Sea, and Frank Black and the Catholics.Words cannot express how peaceful I find it in the kitchen. I like cooking with other people, but it's a treat to be by myself, singing at the top of my lungs to old, familiar so[...]