Wednesday, June 18, 2014

a long, TMI journey




This sext brought to you by Simple Human. 
(No, this is not a sponsored post. You'll see.)


Ike is apparently on a 5+ year mission to destroy everything we own. Basically, Ike is why we can't have nice things. Yet he's also why we had to buy a $50 Simple Human pet proof trash can. (Isn't that... ironike?)

But Ike was too smart for the trash can, and one night I came home to find it across the house. Trash and blueberry footprints were strewn across the floor, and an empty bag of frozen blueberries (which had been full when I threw it away) sat at the end of the trail.

Google informed me that blueberries were safe for dogs to eat, so I forgot about the whole thing until the next day, when Ike and I were taking a walk.




Ike usually doesn't do any business of the number two variety on walks, but as we entered a park in our neighborhood, he made it pretty clear that he needed to empty his bowels. I didn't have any bags, and leading him off to a discreet corner wasn't an option because the park was packed for an AIDS walk. I pulled Ike, mid squat, to an information booth and managed to find some bags. Problem solved.

Except do you know what happens after eating an entire gallon sized bag of blueberries? Blueberry diarrhea happens. And do you know what happens when you try to pick up blueberry diarrhea with a flimsy plastic bag? Shit. Shit happens. It happens all over your hands.

Luckily, with the event going on, there were 15 port-o-potties lining the park, with a portable hand washing station nearby. I set off to wash my hands, but by the time I got to the station I had a new mission: wipe Ike's, um, butthole. Is there a more glamorous word to describe that body part? Let's go with trou de derriere. Everything is ritzier in French.

Anyway, Ike's trou de derriere had not escaped the blueberry diarrhée cleanly.

It looked like an alien crime scene. And people were noticing. So wiping was necessary.

Those portable hand washing stations sure are convenient. They have a sink, soap and paper towels. BUT THEY DON'T HAVE A TRASH CAN WHICH IS REALLY NECESSARY WHEN YOU WIPE YOUR DOG'S BUTT.

pause while I remind myself why I keep this creature around.


Now, picture me walking around this park for a good five minutes, carrying the most disgusting paper towel you can possibly imagine, still with the explosion from before all over my hands, desperately searching for a trash can. This was not exactly the pleasant walk I had imagined.

But I found the trash can, I washed my hands, and life went on. I even stopped to take this picture on the way out:




And when I turned around from snapping my masterpiece, I saw that Ike had created his very own encore masterpiece behind me.

Back to the washing station it was.

Thanks, Simple Human.

(All opinions are my own.) 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

dandy reads | 2014.1



Love & War | Mary Matalin + James Carville

Maybe you have to be either from Louisiana or really into politics to know about James Carville? In case you're not familiar, Carville was one of Clinton's campaign strategists... and a diehard Democrat. His wife, Mary Matalin, worked in the White House under George H.W Bush, and then again with Dick Cheney... and she's a diehard Republican. After years living in DC, they moved to New Orleans after Katrina and then co-wrote this book. It felt more like listening to your two crazy relatives argue on two rocking chairs on the front porch than reading the memoir of two very smart politcal strategists. Something about that bothered me. My favorite part was at the beginning, when they talked passionately about New Orleans, and it went downhill from there. Oh, I also enjoyed Facebook stalking their daughters afterward. It was a great reminder to update my privacy settings...

"After we moved here, my children said to me one day, 'Dad, would you give us a ride to Pinkberry?'
I said, 'Pinkberry, what the hell is that?'
They said, 'it's a yogurt place.'
So I told them, 'We do not eat frozen yogurt in this family. We have snowballs, goddamn it.'"

Attachments | Rainbow Rowell

I love light books like this, because I never expect too much out of them and therefore am never disappointed. I expected Attachments to be fun, quick and light, with maybe a dash of that giddy feeling you get at the end of a great romantic comedy -- and that's exactly what I got.  Two co-workers talk about anything and everything over e-mail, not knowing that the cute guy in IT is also reading their e-mails... and falling in love with one of them. You don't need to know anything more than that.

“October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!” 

The Goldfinch | Donna Tartt

And on the opposite end of the spectrum, this was NOT quick, NOT light, and NOT fun, but pretty freaking great. I have a love/hate relationship with books like this one, where I sympathize with the main character and then watch in horror as they make mistake after mistake after mistake until I no longer like them... but am attached nonetheless. Everyone and their pet goldfinch has raved about this book, and it won the Pulitzer, so there's really not too much I need to add to that conversation.

“—if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.” 

The Best American Travel Writing 2011 | Edited by Sloane Crosley

I know, I know, 2011 called and it wants its book back. But when I felt inspired to read some travel essays before we left for Israel, I specifically chose this volume because it was edited by one of my favorite authors, Sloane Crosley. I expected some witty essays about travel; instead I got some horribly depressing articles about life in other countries. Oh, and every other one of them was about a terrorist attack (at least it felt that way) -- not the best pick before flying to Israel. Eye-opening, interesting, and well-written for sure, but not what I was expecting. 

"In the morning, merchants came down from the hills past our front gate with baskets of fruit balanced on their heads, and at night in bed under the mosquito net, when the moon was silver and big, we heard voodoo drums and strange, spooky singing. I don't know if I've ever liked a place more in my life." --Mischa Berlinski, "Vernance La France is Not Dead"

"But that's the point of flying halfway round the world -- to see what you didn't expect to see." -- Verlyn Klinkenborg, "The Vanishing Point"

Saturday, June 14, 2014

a mini tour of the mall of america


Last week, on a beautiful day that could have been spent frolicking around a lake or biking across the river or just generally exposing my sun-starved skin to the elements, I needed to go to the Mall of America for work.

It was only for about an hour. But! The combined stress of trying to drive there and park during lunchtime and while construction is happening (to make the mall even bigger!) and just the general ickyness of the Mall of America on a weekend afternoon compared to the general delight of a Minneapolis summer weekend is reason to be dramatic. Ask anyone.

After I whined about this for a good 15 minutes, I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and a)return a bathing suit to J. Crew (I don't think one pieces are for me), b) finally get an army green jacket so I can truly call myself a blogger and c) bring my camera so I could take my faithful readers on a mini-tour of, as its called here, The Mall. Capital "T", capital "M".

In our last few months in Shreveport, I wrote a post about the mall there; a mall that should probably hand out anti-depressants as you walk in. I think the fact that my most convenient mall is now the Mall of America is a classic case of be careful what you wish for. 




In case you weren't aware, there's an amusement park in the middle of the Mall of America. It features a giant ferris wheel (with a terrifying giant Dora), a roller coaster that goes upside down, and some giant swinging contraption that looks like it's going to crash through the glass ceiling and never fails to give me a slight heart attack. Also in the Mall of America: a mini-golf course, an aquarium, a comedy club, a movie theatre, and a wedding chapel.


And, obviously, a store devoted to Peeps.  




Not sure why they didn't stop in Lacoste. 



You know how mall maps usually take up one side of one of these things? This map takes up three sides. 

Not everything about The Mall is terrible: 

 in the winter, you can pretty much walk a 5k without passing anything twice (there are signs marking your mileage) || On a Saturday morning at 10 am, I can park, run in and out of 5 stores and be on my way in 30 minutes. It's all about timing. || Each store somehow manages to maintain a personality and its own smell, despite being crammed in with a million other stores. I noticed this when visiting Madewell and Free People, which are right next door to each other but feel like different planets. I think that's kind of cool, slow clap store designers. || there must be a noise ordinance, because the volume at Urban Outfitters is low enough that I don't have to leave within 3 minutes || the Forever 21 has a Classy Lady section where inseams are FOUR inches as opposed to TWO inches and there is nary a crop top to be seen 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

weekend lessons | 06.08.14

01. Every time I realize that I really, really like a new restaurant, it closes. So, to the powers that be -- wink, wink, nudge, nudge -- I HATED the Rabbit Hole. The poutine with Korean spices and a poached egg? Disgusting. The Korean fried chicken? Tasted like a diaper filled with Indian food. The chef's booth we sat in with a front and center view of the kitchen? The cardboard box of seating options.

 I really hope my SEO is terrible and those lines don't come up in a google search. Please don't close, Rabbit Hole. I loved you.


02. Yesterday it was rainy and gloomy and I found myself getting bored. UNACCEPTABLE. So I took myself to an art museum to see an Edward Hopper exhibit, where I discovered my summer style icon:


(PS, this is the same art museum where we saw the inaugural Internet Cat Video Film Festival, played artist-designed mini golf, and went to a butter churning aerobics class. I freaking love this place.)


03. At the end of the Hopper exhibit, a room was set up with a still life surrounded by easels for you to try your hand at sketching. So I took up an old hobby of mine (not paying attention in class and drawing clothes) and drew the dress the mannequin in a still life was wearing. Here's some brand new information: drawing is surprisingly relaxing.  I was even able to tune out the kid screaming next to me because his drawing wasn't perfect.  I love the dichotomy of these two drawings:


04.  A homemade bagel + soft serve + a 17 mile bike ride = balance. Y and I biked uptown for Open Streets, an event where the city shuts down about 20 blocks of a busy street so pedestrians and cyclists can explore to local stores and restaurants. 






Side note: Amsterdam is a lovely place to visit, but do you know what traveling there has robbed me of? The ability to say "I've never seen so many bikes!" If I had never been to Amsterdam, I probably would have used that phrase about Open Streets.

Anyway, we tried homemade bagels from Common Roots Cafe (delicious, far better than Bruegger's) and World Street Kitchen's ice cream. Picture this: salted caramel soft serve with chocolate sauce, marshmallows and roasted almonds. Worth the 10 minute line -- and the rest of the menu looks pretty tasty. I have a feeling we'll be back. 

05. It's going to take me a lot longer than 2 years to get used to seasons. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that just a few months ago, this:


was this:


PS:

reading: I finished Delicious! by Ruth Reichl this weekend. This (vaguely spoilery) review pretty much sums up my thoughts.
listening to: Ray LaMontage, my go-to rainy day music
watching: Orange is the New Black obviously, what am I, a monster?
cooking: this pasta primavera, which I wouldn't say was my favorite thing I've ever made, but a decent way to eat a ton of vegetables. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

souvenirs from Israel

Because it's the weekend, and it has been scientifically proven that on the weekend, the people of the internet can only read lists, here's a list of little tokens I brought home that keep reminding me of our trip to Israel.


Halvah || Have you ever tasted hummus and thought, "this might taste good as candy?" No? Well, you're wrong. In that bowl on the left sits the flaky, sweet middle eastern candy known as halvah. Although not actually hummus candy, halvah is sesame candy, and ground up sesame seeds are tahini, and tahini is a crucial component of hummus, so, close enough. I am obsessed with this stuff, and finished off my entire duty-free container in a matter of days. (if I can't read the nutrition facts due to their being in Hebrew or Arabic, it's healthy, right?) Then, the first chance I got, I visited my local Middle Eastern grocery store and bought a giant vat that came complete with English nutrition facts. Rude.



Cheap pashmina || Displays of these scarves were set up conspicuously in every single market, just waiting to trap tourists like myself. I chose this green one because it reminded me of the bright blues and greens of Akko. Also I've been told I look good in green. 




Tea set || I don't actually own these PiP Studio dishes -- yet. Some of these mismatched dishes and teacups waited for us in our room at the Efendi, and it was out of one of the tea cups that I drank wine on the roof while watching the sunset -- a top ten Israel memory. I recently discovered that the brand is available on Amazon and pretty much everything is on my wish list.



Hamsa | Similar to the evil eye in Greece, the hamsa is a universal sign of protection. Much like the scarves, walls of hamsas are set up in every place you might find tourists.



Jewelry | Top left: I discovered the jewelry designer Shani Jacobi at a tiny store in an unassuming strip mall, and I'm in love with everything she makes -- but these earrings especially. Top right and bottom: I bought the delicate feather necklace at an arts market in Tel Aviv with the help of Y's uncle, who made sure that the Hebrew-speaking artist and I understood each other. Helpful, because I really don't understand Hebrew -- so much so that I didn't realize that Y's uncle was also buying me the matching earrings. So sweet, right? 

This is a really great story to tell when you want to see if someone is listening to you-- I told it to some co-workers and one of them said, "how romantic!" 

She was not listening. 



Toiletries | At the Efendi hotel, our shower was stocked with this Delicate Jasmine shampoo and conditioner by Sabon, a company founded in Tel Aviv. I obviously kept it (because I'm Ross) and now I might be slightly obsessed and buying it for everyone I think deserves a little spa indulgence. Tip: before giving your mother-in-law jasmine-scented hand lotion, read the label that says that jasmine is actually an aphrodisiac and this lotion is very "sensual". Oops.  

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jerusalem & the Meaning of Cleavage




In Hebrew, there is apparently no word for cleavage.

I learned this as I sat in the backseat of Y's cousin's car. We were driving to get a pre-Passover lunch: giant bowls of hummus. We're doing hummus wrong, America. It's not just a dip, it's a meal.

Anyway, Y and his cousin were having a perfectly innocent conversation that took a turn when Y, for some reason, mentioned cleavage. 

creeper.

His cousin, who I guarantee was familiar with the concept of cleavage -- he's a 23 year old guy -- was confused. "What is cleavage?" he asked. Stuck in the backseat, I listened as Y explained cleavage and expounded on it until he felt his cousin was adequately familiar with the term and all its various uses. After, oh, ten minutes of discussing cleavage, Y was satisfied.

A few days later, we took a day trip to Jerusalem with this cousin and his girlfriend. 





At one point, the girlfriend was telling the story of an embarrassing moment while waitressing. 

"I was carrying a platter of food, and as I reached across this woman, I accidentally spilled the platter all over her...." she paused, at a loss for words, gesturing across her chest.

"CLEAVAGE!" said Y's cousin proudly.

Some people travel to foreign countries to heal the sick. Some travel to bring religion and hope. 

We brought the meaning of cleavage. 

...

On that note, here are some pictures of one of the holiest cities in the world. 







 Bagels, hijab, rugs, scarves and arab pastries in the Old City market




Crowd of worshippers at the Western Wall




Crowd of worshippers at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

where is Y?



I bet you're wondering what Y has been up to.

It's hard to say, because I don't actually see him all that often.

He's never been busier than he is right now. His hours are brutal and leave him in actual physical pain. He's constantly on his laptop in our living room troubleshooting problems that arise.

Poor Y, right? But I guess that's what happens when you decide to BUILD A VEHICLE IN YOUR BASEMENT.

Oh, you didn't think I was talking about residency, did you? Because that part is smooth sailing. Sure, he works hard saving lives filling out paperwork and -- his words -- "stomping out chronic disease." Sure, his idea of a vacation is a 40-hour work week. But the actual thing that's keeping him busy after hours is his pet project, his moped. 



Last fall, Y bought a broken moped on Craigslist with the intent to rebuild it and start riding it to work. That's why he's been disappearing to our basement for hours at a time. That's why, for the past half a year, I've been getting packages delivered to my front door from China containing carburetors and gaskets and spark plugs, OKAY NSA? 



And after hours and hours of work, it's actually finished! And it works! And here's the best part: he had no clue how to do any of this. He taught himself everything (probably using the research method every good doctor knows: google) this winter. So while you were complaining about the polar vortex and watching House of Cards, Y was basically learning a new trade. And watching House of Cards (yes, we lived through the Awkward Meechum Situation of 2014).


Pretty cool, right? I know I'm impressed. I even learned to spell carburetors in his honor....which is kind of a big deal.