Sunday, September 30, 2007

Books - September 2007

The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain
Good for a Bourdain junkie like me. No new material - just a collection of articles he's written over the past few years - so if you've never read his books before, his first foodie memoir would probably be a better choice. I enjoy his unparalleled ability to poke fun at himself.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Turkey Lurkey

I made a dish from one of Rachael Ray's cookbooks last night, and like everything I've made from her recipes, it was fast and tasty and I even ate the leftovers for lunch today. And I normally hate leftovers. I suspect that I should be thankful that I don't have access to American television because I watched five minutes of her new show last month and she annoyed me so much I had to turn the channel. And it would be tragic if I had to give up using her cookbooks because every time I opened them I developed a twitch due to her sub-par interview skills.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Altstadfest

Click on the thumbnails at the bottom to see a larger version of the image in the box above.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Land of the Living

I used to have time and energy to think about the point of my posts and come up with "themes" and "structure" but I've completely given that up in favor of actually keeping things up and running. So those of you who want quality writing might want to look elsewhere. (For example, my friend Katie has just posted a message to her rebellious teenage washing machine, and mimi smartypants is judging the other soccermoms, and both posts will make you laugh.)

For the rest of you who are just lazy enough to stay here:

-One week ago I went to bed with a bit of an ache in my shoulders and finally, finally, after a week of various levels if ick, I woke up this morning feeling like a human being is supposed to feel. That is, I didn't have to give myself a pep talk before opening both eyes simultaneously. Thanks for asking.

-I didn't see any really badly dressed people at the Emmy awards, besides Terry O'Quinn, but seeing him win was like watching my sweet ex-Shriner childhood next door neighbor up there, so I won't insult his hot pink shirt. The woman all looked spectacular. A few hair missteps, yes (Kate Walsh, did you come straight from your new marital bed? And Ellen Pompeo, I'm not quite sure what to think.), but all in all the ladies glowed and the men were dapper. See how good I'm feeling, how cheerful?

-Taking photos of my clothes every day has been so eye-opening. I've always known I was not curvy or fashionista but I didn't realize I walk out of the house every day looking like a teenage boy. I like to think I used to try harder when someone was paying me money to dress up, but did I? September is difficult, anyway, clothing-wise, since I haven't given up on my summer wardrobe but it's too cold to wear all my flirty skirts and bare legs and short sleeves. Maybe I'll try this photo project again in November or January or something and I won't look like such a loser.

-The scooting has commenced, with the crawling not far behind. Be Afraid.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

With a Bullet

I have three or four posts swimming around in my brain whose points are blurring as the days go by. It is clear that most of them will never see the light of day unless I condense them for you here:



-I'm not sure what it is about this photo that so mesmerizes me. Yeah, the guy's a hottie, but a little grungy for my taste (especially after seeing him with his band, all very Black Crowes (Note to Sandi, you might want to investigate this)). But every time I see it in a magazine, it causes me to pause and contemplate his brand of attractiveness.

-The two-year anniversary of our arrival in Germany was last week. It's the week of 9/11 which is a good reminder, when I start getting philosophical about the passage of time and hardship and transition and anniversaries, to get some perspective and feel grateful.

-It's a good thing I have no time to focus on such things, or Jessica Simpson would have a letter in her mailbox (or on this blog, at least) addressing her father's disturbing morph into, well, Jessica herself. He used the royal "We" when addressing a question about a porn-star movie role offered to his little girl:
"We were promised we would win an Oscar with that," says [Joe]Simpson, 49. "I was like, 'Eh, we'll just buy a [statue of a] little man and keep our clothes on.' "
Jess, he already broke up one marriage and "managed" your sister into a lip-synch hoedown on SNL. Maybe it's time to grow up and get far, far away from your dad who seems much too focused on his daughter's sex appeal (eeew), despite the fact that They turned down the naked role. Which is fortunate for all of us, because, well, Joe Simpson, naked? (Are you following my train of thought? Me neither.)

-We watched a lot of golf this weekend, especially the Solheim Cup (women's version of the Ryder Cup for those of you who know what that means). Why do American women, even highly skilled, professional, competitive women, revert to tattooing little flags on their cheeks and wearing matching red, white and blue scrunchies in their hair when they join other women in a cause? I can ridicule this because I was in a sorority and I used to spend my Sunday afternoons puffy painting Greek letters on plastic tumblers instead of completing my Philosophy papers. I know, at least they behave themselves on the course, unlike the men who get all testosterone-y (the San Francisco? treat)and lose all decorum. But good grief, apparently estrogen + team pride = friendship bracelets. Unless you are European, where you don't have friendship bracelets, or scrunchies, just Annika Sorenstam.

-Emmy Awards tonight. I will not be staying up until the wee hours to watch them live, but I plan to view the replay tomorrow evening. I haven't seen any of the nominated shows, of course (except, good gravy, is ER still on the air?), but isn't it all about the fashion anyway?

-Someone just found my blog by searching "shaun cassidy in leather pants" and really, that's why I started this thing in the first place.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Death Watch

I am on day three of The Plague. I can't remember the last time I took my own temperature. I didn't really NEED to know it was 101 degrees but it made me feel less wimpy when I called Jeff and sent whiny e-mails. And like a good husband, he came home from work early.

I'm on the road to recovery, I promise something slightly more creative and coherent next week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The More the Merrier

I am just over halfway through watching the first season of Big Love on DVD. I can't remember another time when I've been so distracted by the subject matter of a story - book, film, or TV show - that I have a hard time enjoying or even noticing excellent writing, acting, production, and music. Usually, I'm able to appreciate any work that succeeds in what it set out to do - gory horror flicks, slow drama, crime movies with unlikable heroes - as long as the task has been completed with intelligence and complexity.

Big Love is smartly written, it has complex story arcs and interesting characters. The whole production is well thought-out and it even features music by Uber-cool guy David Byrne. It portrays a way of life that could be happening right now in America. Its actors are believable and well-cast. Its premise is fascinating; polygamy is one of those forbidden lifestyles that everyone wonders about but no one really understands how it works on a day-to-day basis.

However, it simply depresses me every time I watch it. Not because I've always found polygamy distasteful (I didn't really have an opinion before I watched this show) or because the characters have terrible lives (most of them don't). I think it's because the show succeeds too well. Its most sympathetic character, Jeanne Tripplehorn's Barb, is so relatable that I feel more and more distressed for her and for her children every episode.

What does it say about me that I can watch all kinds of creepiness on shows like CSI but can't handle polygamous domestic conflict? And if it bugs me so much, why am I still watching?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Wind It Up

Teething
Remember that last post? The one with all the starry-eyed wonder at parenting a snuggly babe in the darkness?

Scratch that. It's day five of the jetlag soap opera and I think Theo is bent on torturing me. Also, there's the teething and the growth spurt and did I mention that we scheduled his shots for Monday morning? Also, solid foods continue, leaving him two opportunities per day to cover me and my new pink Gap t-shirt in strained green beans, brought about by his special talent for blowing raspberries to signal his dislike for a particular food item.

In other news, we are very very old. We had tickets to see Gwen Stefani next week, an event that would require a two-hour (each way) drive, much pumping of the breasts, and Theo's favorite buddy/babysitter. But hey, we were prepped and looking forward to a night out. Yesterday we learned that the concert venue had changed to a place without chairs. Yes, that's right, no chairs at all, just little patches of concrete floor. And though I stayed far, far away from the Economics department in college, even this humanities major can calculate that this development has tipped the Cost:Benefit ratio out of favor. Three hours of standing around crushed against the filth of humanity plus car/parking time and also the pumping just doesn't seem worth it even if the payoff is seeing Gwen yodel in person. So I'm planning to crank up Hollaback Girl on my iPod a week from tonight and wear red lipstick. Look out, neighbors.

As long as I'm just dumping the contents of my brain, I may as well share that I've joined The Working Closet photo pool, mainly as an incentive to bathe and dress myself. So if you wonder why I post pictures of myself standing around the house in different outfits, that's why.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Jetlag

Traveling with Theo was not so bad. That’s probably because I expected it to be terrible, and it was better than that. He was a champ on the airplane, sitting up in his little bassinet, smiling at our fellow passengers and sleeping periodically so that we even got to watch Blades of Glory on the way there.

The worst part was coming home, as it is most of the time with vacations. I have always hated jetlag and the hating is at its peak right about 2:54 a.m. when I can’t get to sleep. It is at its second worst at 9:38 a.m. when I have to get up but feel like my limbs are dragged down by Wile E. Coyote anvils.

I thought that having a baby would make the jetlag so much worse, since my frustration level when Theo can’t sleep rises quickly even in the best of times. But, like so much about parenthood, I was surprised by the way a baby can make the worst stuff bearable just by shifting my focus from myself to him. Our first night home, Theo was terribly confused. He woke up every hour or so making creaky mewing noises and squinting his puffy little eyes. He just wanted to be held and bounced and rocked and sung to as he clung to the front of my pajamas. I would think he had fallen asleep but as soon as I even approached his crib to lay him down his pathetic sobs would begin anew. After an hour or so of the bouncing and clinging, Jeff would come into the room and I would hand over my little warm bundle, return to bed, and try to get some sleep before taking the next shift. At one point, I could hear Theo crying even though my head was underneath my pillow. I considered getting up to see if I could help calm him down, but instead I decided to give Jeff the privilege instead.

Now, when I say “privilege,” I am being just a tiny bit sarcastic, because I was really laying there thinking about how it was Jeff’s turn anyway, since I’d already been in there for an hour (and I'm sure Jeff thought the same thing when he heard me stumbling around an hour earlier). But after Theo quieted and I drifted off to sleep and Jeff crawled into bed beside me having successfully transferred our bundle of joy into his crib just as the sky got light, I realized that staying in bed was the right thing to do at the time.

I don’t have much advice to share about parenting a newborn, but here is one of the best things I’ve learned so far, and it’s something that I think women have a particularly hard time accomplishing. Let the other parent do the hard parts too. That goes especially for the middle-of-the-night stuff. Chances are, he wants to take his turn. He loves that screeching little angel as much as you do. Pump a bottle or hand over the baby monitor or take a long walk or do whatever you have to do to allow the daddy to roll out of bed at 1:27 a.m. and bounce the crying baby in his arms, even if he has to get up and go to work in the morning and you don’t, even if you are nursing and it’s just less trouble to do it yourself.

Because Saturday night, if I would have gotten up and taken over and let Jeff get some sleep, he wouldn’t have felt Theo’s warm legs against his torso or seen how Theo’s confused face relaxed when he recognized his daddy’s voice, or done a silent little cheer when he managed finally to lay Theo down without waking him (something I hadn't managed to do anyway). And the two of couldn’t have reminisced together on Sunday morning about how last night was so much like those first few weeks when we were both joyful, terrified zombies because we were up together in the dark, caring for our son.

Sunday, September 02, 2007