Friday, May 30, 2008

The View From Here: May 30

Part of my tough morning commute: The Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens.

Often incorrectly referred to as the "Alice Keck Park"... but "Park" was actually part of her name. Guess the city could have been silly and tried "Alice Keck Park Park."

So, yes, it's a nice Friday so far.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

96 Tears or Fewer

The following is one of the best "One-Liners" I've ever read at Overheard in New York:
“Awww, you're the sweetest friend ever! You almost made me cry, except that I can't cry -- I'm on Effexor!”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, just about sums it up. A couple of comments on my last post (hi, Jill and SubtleKnife) reminded me that there may be times that I slightly (and I mean slightly) lament the fact that I don't feel as emotionally "sensitive" as I once did in my pre-pharmaceutical days. However, there's really no reason to have tears silently streaming down one's face just because you switch on the car radio one day and hear strains of Springsteen's Thunder Road. I mean... really.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Serotonin Uptake Selectively Inhibited

I got just slightly off my medication schedule last week -- not seriously, but obviously enough to make me a little... shall we say gloomy? Enough to have my eyes start welling up while walking through a bookstore Saturday afternoon and hearing their sound system playing "Strawberry Fields" from the "Across the Universe" soundtrack.

In any case, all is well now, and there will be nothing this week but smileys and puppies.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

You'll Slip Away

Where do we go from here?
This isn't where we intended to be
We had it all, you believed in me
I believed in you

Certainties disappear
What do we do for our dream to survive?
How do we keep all our passions alive,
As we used to do?

Nunca Jamás

A few things I'll never do [again]:
    1. Donate blood

    2. Be a Peace Corps volunteer

    3. Run a brush through my thick hair

    4. Hug my grandfather or my friend Dianne

    5. Know what it's like to have normal red-green vision

    6. Compete in the Olympic Games

Still leaves a whole lot of possibilities, I guess...

Monday, May 19, 2008

And an order of Twice-Cooked Epidermis

The third weekend heatwave in the last two months hit us this weekend, although temperatures -- mid to upper 80s -- this time weren't quite as high as they were during the last heatwaves (and Saturday & Sunday seemed cooler than Friday was).

I finally decided to tackle the first phase of my bedroom (more like bed-alcove) painting project. Here you see it. Yes, it is yellow -- nice of you to notice. I plan to glaze over it with a darker shade; stay tuned for home improvement updates.

Luckily, I finished painting, doing some planting in the garden, and temporarily rearranging my bed before.... sloshing some smoking hot peanut oil out of a wok and onto the top of my bare foot. Yowch. I wonder if Martha Stewart suffers such first-aid worthy indignities. The good news is that even with a small second-degree burn, I'm still able to finish whipping up a heap of Ma-Po Tofu. Martha Stewart's Sichuan doppelgänger would be proud. Gosh, my life is exciting.

Oh, and I finally finished reading Yann Martel's The Life of Pi, an amazing book which, if it doesn't necessarily make one believe in God, it sheds a beautiful and tragic light on the process by which we create and tell stories -- divine or otherwise -- for ourselves and others. The following terrific illustration is by Andrea Offermann.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

He woke up and found that his dream of love was gone

Just before waking this morning, I had a dream that I was in love.

In the dream I was kissing and intimately cuddling with my beloved, but it was not a sexual dream. He came from behind me when I was in a kitchen and embraced me and I turned only my head to kiss the face that he had pressed to my neck.

I don't know exactly who he was, but I can vaguely remember that dream face. I felt loved and I felt, somehow, protected.

There are feelings I miss terribly, and I miss just the act of sleeping in the same bed with someone.

"You have a good heart," a former boyfriend said in trying to console me many years ago as he was breaking up with me -- and as he was breaking that "good heart." That was at the beginning of what ended up being many years of debilitating and destructive depression.

I still miss him and the others.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

One More Thing

I just don't feel it. "It." Or anything, for that matter.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Channelling My Inner Soccer (Grand)Mom

I realized today -- finally -- that who I hate isn't really Obama, but Obama supporters. My contempt for them runs the gamut from über-shrill and condescending Los Angeles Times columnist Rosa Brooks (whom I must disclose I've frequently enjoyed reading)... to the know-it-all older former hippie woman who pontificates on the bus... to one of my best friends.

Unfortunately, it's really going to take a strong force of will and maturity on my part to overcome a desire to blow raspberries at this smug group of acolytes and actually vote for their candidate in a general election. Because right now, I'm feeling a strong "f-you" impulse that just might last more than six months.

I'm really sad, more than anything, because I haven't been remotely lukewarm about this contest. A quote from a West Virginian today summed it up well for me:
That's what [Evelyn] Keener, 90, thinks, too. "There's 12 other countries that have woman presidents; why can't the U.S.?" she said from her Biscuit World booth. "That's what I want to see before . . . " -- she paused to rephrase her thought -- "in my lifetime."

From the Norsk-Magyar Test Kitchens

Salmon with Dill-Chive Cream; Roasted Potatoes & Beets with Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

Chicken Paprikás
- diced bacon or pancetta
- boneless chicken thighs
- thinly sliced red onion
- shredded carrot
- bay leaf
- Hungarian sweet paprika
- white wine for deglazing
- rehydrated assorted dried mushrooms, minced, with broth
- chicken broth
- salt & pepper
- sour cream
- serve over buttered egg noodles (or better yet, homemade Nockerln)

And it bears repeating: This is not a food blog.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hôtel Soba: Il y a treize ans

Below is one of my favorite photos of myself. It sums up so much of that little half-week diversion to Bobo-Dioulasso and then Lomé with Olaf. It was easily one of the best weeks of my life.

I don't happen to remember the US dollar equivalent of CFA 16,470.

UPDATE: For those commenting on my cuteness and sex appeal -- note that I did look like this once upon a time. For those not proficient in French at all, note that the title of this post includes the phrase "13 years ago"... However, thank you for your kind and flattering words. That is all.

Placental, the sister of her brother Marsupial

Did you hear the exciting news about the mapping of the platypus genome, or have you been under a rock? Fascinating stuff:

A scientific team published the genetic makeup of the Australian animal in the scientific journal Nature on Thursday, confirming that its features -- which straddle multiple animal classes -- are reflected in its DNA.

The research could help explain how mammals, including humans, evolved from reptiles millions of years ago, they said.

"At first glance, the platypus appears as if it was the result of an evolutionary accident," said Francis S. Collins, director of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute, which funded the study.

"But as weird as this animal looks, its genome sequence is priceless for understanding how mammalian biological processes evolved," Collins said in a statement.

Jenny Graves, an Australian National University genomics expert who co-wrote the paper, said the gene sequencing shows the platypus has a mix that crosses different classifications of animals.

"What we found was the genome, just like the animal, is an amazing amalgam of reptilian and mammal characteristics with quite a few unique platypus characteristics as well," she told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

The platypus is classed as a mammal because it has fur and feeds its young with milk. But it also has bird and reptile features -- it lays eggs, has a duck-like bill and webbed feet, it and lives mostly underwater. Males also have spurs on their heels that inject pain-causing venom to ward off mating rivals.

Scientists believe the platypus and humans shared an evolutionary path until about 165 million years ago when the platypus branched off. Unlike other evolving mammals, the platypus retained characteristics of snakes and lizards, Graves said.
This is absolutely NOT a wildlife or zoology blog.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Aucune condition n’est permanente

Briefly: Today I forced myself to go to the University art museum to see Isaac Julien's video installation, Fantôme Afrique, just days before its scheduled closing. I'm so glad I went.

Really nothing astounding, just pure, beautiful yet somewhat mundane cinematography set in Burkina Faso. It was more than just that, of course, but this isn't a critique.

I still dream of a vacation that involves nothing more than taking a room at the spartan Hôtel Soba in Bobo-Dioulasso for a month. As ridiculous and pretentious as it may sound, I dream of that so much that I can taste it.

* * *
A good opportunity also to bring attention to the recent passing of Aimé Césaire, le père de la 'négritude'. Reading his obituary in late April made me think of the wonderful Martiniquan film, La Rue Cases-Nègres (although it was based on a book by author Joseph Zobel, not by Césaire), and also the Malian film La Vie sur Terre, in which the narrator quotes abuntantly from Césaire.

I highly recommend both films.

[See also some nice images from Fantôme Afrique at this blog site.]

Thursday, May 08, 2008

O'Possum Sunday

This is NOT a wildlife blog.

And this isn't from this past Sunday, but April 20. I found this creature cowering and sniffing the air just inside the threshold of my apartment that afternoon. It startled me, and then I was worried that it would take off in a flash and set up residence in my box spring or something, only to terrorize me or give me rabies in the middle of the night. Then I realized that the creatures don't move so fast (as anyone knows who has closely avoided -- or actually succeeded in -- turning the slowly waddling animals into roadkill).

However, I noticed that the big white-and-orange cat from down the block was hovering outside, and I didn't want to shoo the 'possum into those drooling feline jaws, so I gently nudged it out the door and then chased the cat away. The 'possum hid behind a potted plant, then started foraging in some flower beds for awhile. I'm not sure how it ended up faring, because it sort of just disappeared when I went back to check on it after awhile. I was a little worried because it appeared to be a "juvenile," and I've read that opossums generally take cover during daylight hours, so I didn't want it getting attacked or picked off by some hungry crow. Ah well, the circle of life and all that... Be strong, Simba.

In any case, I know they're kind of reviled as beady-eyed ground-crawlers, but O-possums are cute! After all, it's one of G-d's lovely creatures like all the rest of us, right?