Monday, April 26, 2010

A Dying Dream Revived

Rarely does one's attempt to change my life or go out and do something work. I can think of one other occasion, other than today, where that happened. The last occasion where something persuaded me to get off the couch and go and do something occurred a few years ago. I was bored, so I started thumbing through some advertisements whence I came upon an ad for some cute and colorful socks. I thought to myself, "I want those." So, I actually went to that store and bought those very socks. Really, that never happens.

Well, once again that happened when something just looked so great, I had to try it out for myself.

Last week I found myself on the couch with various ailments and my apothecary wasn't doing the trick of healing me. So, I just let the ailment run it's course. In the meantime, I found ways to entertain myself (mostly through netflix).

I found myself watching the movie "Julie and Julia." Well, anyways, it's about some girl who decides to cook everything in the Julia Child's French cookbook in a year, and she blogs about it, becomes a pseudo-celebrity blah blah blah (sorry about the plot spoiler). And, as she was cooking all these recipes, my mouth watered. But, what made my mouth water most was artichoke with hollandaise sauce.

Now, I've never actually cooked an artichoke but it's not that hard. You just put in a double broiler and press "start." Even a pack of monkeys could accomplish that task.

The hollaindaise sauce is a bit tricky. In fact, several years ago I attempted to make the wretched sauce and it turned out in a proper catastrophe. The eggs scrambled and I had to throw the whole attempt away and go and grieve my sad lot.

I love hollandaise sauce and it's a bruise to my character the fact that I can't even make it. Just think, I've lived my whole life in utter shame because I can't make this sauce and every time I try, I fail miserably. My self-confidence? Shot.

But that movie really inspired me and dipping artichoke in hollandaise sauce seemed like something that just might amuse me.

So, yesterday I talked to my an old co-worker who went to cooking school about hollandaise sauce and she gave me some tips. You have to whip the egg yolks until they have lots of air in them and have the pan at an angle and the heat can't be too high. Be patient with it, don't rush it.

With my new information, I waited until just the right moment...NOW!

I mixed my eggs in the double broiler...and they didn't scramble! Triumph number one...

Then I added lemon juice, cayenne pepper, salt and a frightening amount of butter. And the mixture obeyed my commands and mixed smoothly. Triumph number two...

There is a science to this sauce, you have to keep the mixture at exactly the proper temperature. So, then continued to add various amounts of chilled and melted butter and the sauce continued to look like smooth sauce. Triumph number three!

I couldn't quite believe my luck. It looked like hollandaise sauce! I literally gave a jump of pleasure and screeched "I made hollandaise sauce!"

They said "if at first you don't succeed, try again." They (whoever they are) are right!

After being frightened of hollandaise sauce for the past five years, I now can go about my life, with confidence, knowing that I (an unassuming quiet student by day and fervent hollandaise sauce maker by night) can be successful the second time around.

Never never give up on your dreams.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Guilty! New York City

One of my aunts says to me "You've got bitten by the travel bug!" And they say, once you get bit, you never heal. The bite starts in one part of the body and begins to speckle your body as if your body were a globe and it's marking out places that you will go, or have gone before.

My first travel bug bite developed in the New York location of my body. Since then other miscellaneous bites have appeared in various locations.

I was 16 and my parents were naive enough to let me take off to the other side of the continent with weird cousin Ethel (not her real name, in fact she's not even that weird, but it's funnier this way). I had worked all summer in a sandwich shop grilling beef over a hot grill for philly cheese steak sandwiches. I had been saving my wages and anticipating a trip to the Big Apple.

Weird cousin Ethel's sister's co-worker had a daughter who worked as a social worker in Brooklyn New York and well "You should go visit my daugher. She lives in New York City!" Well, we actually took her up on that offer (even though we didn't even know this lady). So, I found myself on my first airplane ride. I sat next to an attractive Swedish guy who talked a lot. I remember actually wanting to listen to the safety instructions but he kept talking to me, so I pretended like I didn't care. I never got the opportunity to tell him that this was my first plane trip and that really, I was a bit nervous. But, the plane didn't crash and my ears didn't hurt and it was all rather uneventful.

We arrived in New York City. I couldn't believe I was really there: New York City. It was so big and the buildings were so high. It took me awhile to realize it wasn't Seattle or Portland or some other city, but New York City. Ya know, where they filmed movies like "You've Got Mail." It's kind of a big deal.

I rode the subway for the first time and did my best to pretend that I wasn't a tourist from a small town in Oregon, but a bonafied New Yorker. I don't think they believed me because when the subway took off, I was standing up and I managed to fall down on some old Indian lady's lap. She had a red dot in the middle of her wrinkled forehead and was wearing a sari. She smiled and I awkwardly apologized. I remember thinking to myself "I'm the only blond person on the subway," as I sat in a sea of Indians, African-Americans, Asians and Arabs. I had experienced diversity to a certain extent on my weekend visits to Seattle to visit relatives, but I had never experienced it New York style. In my small town of scandawhovian origin, I was never ever the only blond; everyone looks like me there. So the subway was an experience.

I do not remember that much from that trip. I do remember this man who played the same song every day at one of the subway stations that we always found ourselves at. But we never gave him money for his beautiful flute playing of "Oh Susannah."

I tried sushi for the first time. I tried tempura. I had the best Greek food that I've ever had, to this day, at some nameless restaurant nearish to Central Park (that lamb was SO tender and seared soo thinly). I drank lots of sugary coffee beverages every day, because that is what teenagers do.

We attended to the US Open and saw Pete Sampres up close (wowsas!). I conversed with a man who shaved his legs as we watched Anna Kournikova lose yet another tennis match. He asked me what I was doing later, I doubt he had any idea I was only 16. Maybe he did and he was a creep. I was too innocent to tell back then.

I watched the heads on the tennis fans move back in fourth in a rhythmic motion as they followed the ball throughout the various matches.

And of course, we walked and walked. We saw ground zero. We saw the street vendors outside of ground zero selling fakleys and rolox's.

We saw "Beauty and the Beast" on Broadway and I was so blown away by the caliber of that show. Broadway was so much better than the third-rate high school plays I'd seen. We took the subway home from the show like commoners and not like regular Broadway show goers.

I saw a very stylish lady, in central Park, in a plaid skirt , boots, and a beret. She was with two kids who were playing frisbee with a yellow lab. It looked like something out of a magazine, the dog, the city in the background, the fashion. Something to remember

I went to a used bookstore and bought a F. Scott Fitzgerald book of short stories, someone had used a maple leaf to maintain their spot. I wondered where the leaf came from and if maybe it came from central park.

Eventually my week in New York City ended. I bought the t-shirt (I heart NY), I bought some red shoes that were my favorite pair of shoes that I ever owned and I bought a few trinkets to give to friends back home.

Then I arrived back in Oregon and wore my I heart NY t-shirt with pride. I began listening to songs like "New York" by Ryan Adams, "New, New York" by the Cranberries, "New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra and "New York" by U2. Do you sense a pattern? I talked about my "little town blues" and how I "wanted to be a part of New York, New York."

And that's where it all began. My first travel bug bite. Inspired by weird cousin Ethel. Naively permitted by my parents. And enthusiastically accepted by me.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Reposing Solution to Authentic Discomfort

The world of the traveler contains various aspects such as thrills, discomfort and much much more. But based upon my empirical evidence, I would say it contains more thrills than discomforts. And the discomforts that do exists are a pleasant form of misery which I would also classify as a thrill.

Recently, I engaged in a 12 day journey to southern South America. You guessed it, you clever literate being with legs, I was in Argentina and Uruguay. Two up and coming travel destinations for any cosmopolitan metrosexual or young urban profession (not that I am either one of those).

However, upon arrival back onto American soil, I noticed something rather alarming regarding my personal well-being. I had back pain. In fact, I had been having back for two weeks. This could have been due to excitement, ice cream consumption, copious mate drinking or some other mysterious component. After 12 days of thrills, I finally experienced discomfort as a result of travel

I had a good think and analyzed my previous two weeks; I deduced that the cause of this back pain was the bag I carried on my pilgrimage. But, any traveler (happy or unhappy) must carry something that contains necessities needed for traveling (toothpaste, bug spray, band aids, peptobismal and cute high heels). I chose to employ my hideous pink-green-purple-white bag with sequins that I got at the goodwill for $0.63, which explains why I could afford to take a vacation, as I do my utmost not to spend too much on things I don't really need (such as gnomes and Russian dolls).

Anyways, I carried this bag around for 12 days and put things in it such as doodads, my camera, some shoes, my wallet, my jacket and anything else I felt needed to be contained within this portal. Eventually my shoulders and back began to complain via their preferred method of communication: pain. I ignored it thinking it would go away in a few days like it normally does. But after experiencing the post-vacation blues for a week, the back pain was still there. At this point, I knew I had to do something extreme. Drastic times call for drastic measures. So, I did something I have only done one other time in my life--I got a massage.

I'm a working class girl complete with a cheap bag that causes back pain. I'm not part of the bourgeoisie class that enjoys earl gray tea, cured ham, jams and crumpets on any given Tuesday at 3:00. No, not I.

Massages are outside of my reality. I know they exist and I know that some people go get massages. But, not people like me.

So, with excitement and anticipation, I prepared myself to enter into the world of "people-who-get-massages," (like landowners and capitalists).

I am happy to report that I got a discount on the massage (as I was obviously a first time massage-receiver) and that the experience was a more than pleasant one.

As I was enjoying the massage, on a heated massage table, I pondered as to who composes relaxing massage music complete with waterfalls in the background and flute music.

Regarding massages I have this to say: a massage is something to be valued, cherished, and appreciated. Because I never ever get them, I have a deep and important appreciation for the art of being kneaded and rubbed by human hands, elbows and arms.

So, to all of my working class constituents, I do recommend you engage in the bourgeois act of massage-receiving. It is a great piece of happiness.