Had a couple of people ask about the musical and how things are shaping up. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, click HERE to view The Adventurista. This is the other blog in my life (scandalous, I know), which covers less of my random thoughts, rants, rambles and random cartoons and more of my adventures in Wonderland. You’ll find all kinds of Reefer Madness fun there, but here’s a sneak peak…
Yet Another High Fructose Update… April 27, 2009
In my continuing war on HFCS, I’ve apparently become hyper sensitive to this terminology; those four little words seem to jump from the page any time I’m surfing these days.
Anyway – here’s the latest. Not that I’m advocating sucking down something artificially nuclear colored, but perhaps this is evidence that Pepsi has figured out that the general public is not so keen on this particular ingredient these days.
This sweetener swap has, of course, been done before (Kosher Coke, anybody?), but I’ll be very curious to see if high sales lead to a permanent recipe change (highly doubtful, but we all have dreams..). If anyone gives it a try (sorry… sugar or no, I’m not hitting the sauce), let me know what you think.
Brought to You by the Letter ‘S’ April 23, 2009
I have to call it a subject and not a lesson, because anyone who knows me realizes I’m the LAST person to espouse on the wonders of a simple life. No, I’m the girl who’s dug herself into one of the most complicated situations you can imagine:
-I live with a musician/friend and her boyfriend in a little house that, until yesterday, has been under construction since the day I moved in (and I knew it would be this way going into it, but somehow thought that band saws running at odd hours and having to plug the microwave in on the couch would be okay??)
-I inherited a dog. Not just ANY dog, mind you. A little powerhouse jack russell with anxiety issues and a Napoleon complex. Thus, serious, continual training ensued.
-I work an 8-5 job that involves little of what I love to do (i.e. being creative, writing, editing, interacting with people), and leaves me with even less time to pursue those things outside of work.
-And still… I managed to get into some extracurricular activities. Namely the musical, which, as we near the show dates, takes up increasing chunks of my post-work time so that my days go something like this: Up at 7, at work around 8, use lunch break to run errands and take Gabe out, actually eat lunch at work, leave work at 5, go home and feed Gabe and take him out, grab something that resembles dinner, get to rehearsal by 6, rehearse until 10, home by 10:15, tend to Gabe, in bed by 11 (or 12). Repeat. 4 days in a row.
-Granted, I only live a couple of miles from J, but we still live in separate house, which means packing night bags, running home before work in the morning to let Gabe out, constantly shuttling between the two locations and perpetually leaving things at his house. (My forgetfulness rivals that of someone fifty years my senior).
-I move, on average, once a year. This does not help the situation any. Being in and out of boxes and in and out of spaces, the constant address changes, the job switching (if the move is out of town), the process of moving itself. And yet, I love a change of scene. I start to itch when I’ve remained still for too long in one place. (Masochism?)
As you can see, life is not exactly streamlined. I’ve been taking a long, hard look at things lately and have realized that changes need to be made or my sanity will pay the price. J apparently must have realized this as well, because one of my birthday gifts from him this year was a subscription to Real Simple magazine. I’ve read this publication from time to time, and for someone who lives in mass chaos, I sure do have a fetish for organization and simplification that Real Simple seems to satisfy. The problem is, until now, I’ve been doping on the doctrine without actually living it.
Suddenly, however, the idea of simplification has become a new mantra. Granted, it will take some time before I can jump on the wagon, but at least I’ve started chasing it. While it will involve not one, but TWO moves, J and I will finally be consolidating our resources and living under one roof. Our aim is to rent a house where we’ll be the only tenants, thus taking control of our living situation. I’ve just started a profile on a money management website to conquer my spending and credit card debt. I’m working towards a job that either involves my talents more earnestly or offers me enough free time to pursue writing and other creative work on the side. Also, in the new place, we’ll be able to control use of space and organization. We’re both interested in growing herbs and vegetables and learning to cook at home more.
And that’s just for starters. I never believed it whole-heartedly before, but they may have been on to something with the “Gift to be Simple” thing, because with increased simplicity comes increased serenity. It’s not to say we shouldn’t be driven in our pursuits, which sometimes can be stressful, but we do need to choose our battles wisely and streamline everything else.
That’s where I’m at. The chaos will necessarily continue until the summer, but at least I have a light at the end of the tunnel.
And Real Simple in the meantime.
(Need more inspriation to get simple? Check out this story: http://lifestyle.msn.com/your-life/bigger-picture/articleoprah.aspx?cp-documentid=19216974>1=32001. Yes it’s from Oprah’s magazine; whatever. I feel better having read it.)
I Am Not Nice April 17, 2009
I’ve been doing a little experiment this week: I’ve decided to speak my mind.
You see, it seems I’ve focused so heavily on empathy and tact, both of which I value highly, that these qualities are now backfiring, and the following has becomes true: the greater my empathy, tact and, well, likability, the more I end up a doormat. A grumpy, angry (and often sleep-deprived) doormat.
The difficulty I’m encountering in my newly rekindled efforts to just tell people how I really feel? Instead of feeling empowered or confident or respectably opinionated, I may come off as a huge (for lack of a better word) b#tch.
Perhaps this is because I set one precedent and am trying to turn on a dime; my sudden honesty and opposition is such a departure from the confluence people expect from me that it comes as an unpleasant surprise.
EXHIBIT A: When, after it had been happening for a month, I finally asked my roommate’s boyfriend (who now lives with us) if he could end his mandolin practicing by midnight on work nights, he seemed shocked. Not only as if it had never occurred to him that plucking away at 3am in the bedroom right above mine might be problematic, but also as if I’d slapped him on the wrist along with my request. And now he acts weird around me. But I feel INFINITELY better and can finally sleep through the night.
Or (also likely), I’m having a little too much fun with this excuse to tell it like it is…
EXHIBIT B: I’ve been a member of Facebook for a while now and have noticed that there’s a certain type of friend who feels the need to use their status box to perpetually update us on their extensive and amazing exercise routines (“rode my bike 10 miles, ran uphill for another 5, pilates for a cool-down…. ready to start my day!!). Usually I grumble to myself over this kind of public gloating; I workout, too, but I don’t feel the need to validate myself (and make others feel like lesser people) by broadcasting my routines.
When one of these updates popped onto my homepage, I replied with a status that informed the offenders (without mentioning names) that from now on I would be hiding updates from people who felt the need to do this. Shortly thereafter, I got a comment from one of the main offenders saying this was, “Kind of harsh.”
So was it?
Am I just getting carried away with this honesty thing? Are there some things that, no matter how stongly you feel about them, should just be kept to yourself? There must be some fine line between trampling and being trampled upon. It’s possible that I got caught up enjoying the sudden freedom from the shackles of nice-ness and overshot that line. So – apologies to any victims; most experiments need refining, and this apparently is no exception.
But is hasn’t all been Wicked Witch of the West this week.
There was also an instance the other night when I was upset with J and decided to be open and honest about my disappointment.
EXHIBIT C: I don’t have a lot of experience being angry at J, and he’s difficult to stay mad at, so in the past I’ve let a lot of little things go. But I know from experience that this behavior can be dangerous – often leading to an explosion of “little thing” shrapnel down the road. In this instance, I chose to tell him exactly how his actions had affected me, without yelling or throwing blame around. And, by god, he understood. As he explained back to me exactly how I was feeling, I heard that he understood. He couldn’t take back what had happened that evening, but his comprehension of where I was coming from remedied the situation for me completely.
As you can see, this experiment’s had some mixed results. So – apologies to any victims; most experiments need refining, and this apparently is no exception. I’m working on it, with the idea that everyone will benefit when I get it right.
High Fructose Update April 13, 2009
To my own shock and amazement, I’ve been doing pretty well with this whole corn syrup thing. Early on there were some startling disappointments (my favorite yogurt – Yoplait Light – typically consumed daily without fail was harboring HFCS right under my nose – ditto with my balsamic vinaigrette). What I did confirm was that the easiest way to fight this menace is to steer your shopping cart away from the center aisles. In general, keeping to the outside ring and avoiding processed foods made my task infinitely easier. And when the Easter candies came rolling in, I was happy to see that a lot of them (especially the chocolates and my coveted Reese’s peanut butter eggs) still use old school sugar. DO NOT, however, take this as a free pass to let your sugar intake run rampant. Sugar is only the lesser of two evils, but I’ll take it (in moderation) any day over the HFCS.
The Great Escape (Concluded…) April 9, 2009
Let’s wrap this sucker up, shall we?
Having crashed at last around 5 in the morning, we slept a large portion of Sunday morning away. Realizing upon our awakening that a Miami day was melting away before our eyes, we sprang into action to hit up the beach. R stayed home to relax and get some work done, but J and I were soon suited up and out the door.
Hell bent on finding perfection this time around, we hailed a cab and took it down to 40-something St. where we’d found that great public beach access and the start of the boardwalk. Following along the boardwalk, we had our pick of hotel-kept beaches. Coming to a slightly less crowded stretch, we hobbled over to a little beach shack where they were renting chairs, umbrellas and cabanas. A chalkboard sign listed the cost of rent for each: All day rental- Chairs – $15 for two, Umbrellas – $15, Cabanas – $20, Beds – $50.
I looked over, and, indeed, there were two full-sized platform beds with big, blue cushions. Seriously? Does anyone think this is a good idea? Do you KNOW what those cushions must be like? The amount of microbe colonies – no, CIVILIZATIONS that probably thrive within?
“We’ll take a cabana, please,” I told the shirtless guy at the counter.
“That’s it? How ’bout a couple of chairs?” he pushed, jovially enough.
“I don’t need chairs,” I turned him down, equally friendly.
“How ’bout chairs and cabana for $25?” he said.
I looked again at the sign. Hmph. It was a good deal.
I started to pass my credit card over the table. “$20 if you give me cash,” he offered. Shady? Yes. But it meant free beach chairs, and we were able to scrounge up the $20 in cash, and before we knew it, another employee was carrying our chairs over to a great spot on the beach and dragging the cabana over to shade them. I was pleased with the deal.
The water here was much clearer, and a shallow sandbar created warmer, calmer waters to swim in. A middle-aged hippy-type had approached us earlier on the boardwalk and, among other things, told us that we had great karma and that we could restore our chakras by dipping ourselves under the water together 11 times (she also said this would improve our love life, which is when things got a little strange). But we figured it couldn’t hurt, so, warmed by an unhindered sun, we ventured out into the crystal blue waters. The waves rose steadily to our middles, then soon we found the elevation rising and we were only knee-high in water. Sandbar found. We knelt down in the water, waited for a wave to pass, grabbed on to each other and dunked ourselves sloppily 11 times, laughing and snorting water the entire time.
I don’t know about my chakras, but our spirits at least were sky high when we eventually emerged on the beach again.
When the sun finally began its descent, we decided to seek out a happy hour at one of the bars along the boardwalk. The sound of reggae led us to what turned out to be a Carrabba’s (I still don’t believe this was actually a part of the national chain of Italian restaurants – it was an outdoor patio/tiki bar with live Jamaican music). (See my review on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/carrabbas-italian-grill-miami-beach) Two sangria’s a piece later, we teetered out and began to walk home. Emboldened by the alcohol and revitalized by the bar food (more later on the restorative powers of homemade kettle chips smothered in blue cheese…) we decided to walk the beach the entire way home.
One helluva walk later, we arrived back at R’s building as the sun began to set. It was time to hit up the showers and prepare for dinner. We’d been craving sushi since we arrived (recall the utter disappointment of Iron Sushi, which was supposed to sate us until we could get the real deal) and now had our sites set on Sushi Samba, one of the trendy see-and-be-seen spots on Lincoln Road.
In hindsight, I’m not really sure how J and I were still standing at this point, much less walking, talking and ready to hit the town. My guess is some kind of vacation hormone which acts much like adrenaline, but with less fight-or-flight and more photography. We didn’t arrive on the Lincoln Rd. strip until 10:00 or so, but the patios were packed with diners still and the wait for a table at Samba had us headed inside to fend for ourselves at the bar for a good forty minutes. (Btw, that girl made THEE best mojitos we had the entire week – and the most expensive, go figure…)
Turns out the wait was well worth it. After a few appetizers, our badass little server, (Rebecca? Rachel? Shite, I thought I’d remember) delivered a huge plate of some of the best and most innovative sushi I’ve ever tasted. Finally, the sushi monster that dwells perpetually in my stomach was quelled (although, it’s been so long now that I swear I’ve heard it grumbling again…). As we were polishing off the last of the rolls, just when we thought life couldn’t get any better…. it. did.
Because THAT’S when Amazing Adam sauntered over to our table. At first, we all thought this was some lowlife with a deck of cards who was going to harass us until we paid him off to do some trick and leave us alone. Oh, no no no no no… Amazing Adam is no hack, my friends. In less than a minute, he’d intrigued me into fishing $10 out of my purse to see his full routine, and it was worth EVERY PENNY. I was floored by the way he could move the cards, even before he started in with the tricks. He performed right next to our table, all three of us watching him from different angles, and none of us caught a single flaw the entire time. It was like watching a magician back when you were a kid and still believed in such things.
Still in an Amazing Adam haze, we paid our bill and strolled down Lincoln to finish the night at Segafredo, which was now in its nighttime mode, all house music and hipsters. The perfect ending to what was my favorite day of the entire trip.
Not that the last day wasn’t memorable, mind you. Monday we ventured inland to Coconut Grove. Which I loved. Suffice it to say if I ever moved to the Miami area, this is where I would live (you know, if we throw all practicality to the wind). Here I finally got my first taste of the legendary cafe con leche (strong coffee pulled with sugar and mixed with just a bit of milk, topped with froth) which was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. Who knew the latte could be that infinitely improved upon? The Grove is also home to three (count ’em) French bistros, but I can say confidently that we chose the best of them when we stopped into Le Bouchon du Grove (again with the Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/le-bouchon-du-grove-miami).
Our plan after that was to pay the $1.50 toll and drive out to Key Biscayne, however (long story short) we took a wrong turn out of the Rest Stop of Confusion and found ourselves headed back out of the tollway with no escape (read: no u-turns anywhere, WTF?). So it was back to South Beach for one more sunset by the pool and then dinner by R (Surf n’ Turf a la George Forman, and quite tasty).
And that, mes amis, was that. Not much time the next day for anything but gathering our belongings (now scattered about R’s apartment) and getting to the airport. (However, there was time for one last hurrah in D.C. We had a three hour layover in which we took a train a couple stops out, met some of J’s freinds for lunch and St.Patty’s Day drinks, and got back just in time to run through the terminal and catch our flight home… becuase, you know, we didn’t really get enough excitment in Florida.)
So, what now? Stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on the little bit of info we got upon our return that will change our lives very shortly.