Archive for March, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

I turned 30 yesterday and I must say it was pretty damn bittersweet. Not that I care about turning 30, really… I think I will only get handsomer, and gain authority, maybe even a little respect.

30 actually feels like a new beginning, but the rough part is the thing that’s ending, or has ended, with Cait. It actually looked like we were going to work it out as recently as last week, but we had one atrocious night— St. Patrick’s Day, when the plan had been to do something totally UN-Irish, there was instead too much drinking and bad behavior on both our parts; in fact, VERY Irish— that, for her, symbolized a lot of reasons why we are simply not compatible. (For me too, in a way, though I was not prepared to give up hope.)

It’s not so simple for me, but even in the midst of my sadness over her decision, there is some sense of relief. That I won’t be emotionally jerked around anymore. That I can do things I want to do without worrying about her approval— go to school, write a novel, take a glassblowing class.

Of course it’s tough on me that she doesn’t even want to see me, but I guess that’s the way it goes when someone wants to make a breakup real. I really wanted to talk things out, but she thinks talking will only make things worse. Not sure that’s true, or that this philosophy will help her in future relationships, but maybe I’m holding onto something that isn’t there anymore. There’s no way that’s good for me. And I’m #1 in my book.

I must be #1 in Lei and Nems’ book too, because they treated me with kindness uncommon last night. I cabbed down to Lei’s place after my rehearsal for the plays I’m working on this weekend (The 52nd Street Project’s semi-annual Playmaking extravaganza— ten plays by ten year-olds, produced by adults) finished up.

I was greeted at the door with a Brandy Alexander, and then was presented with a small, elegantly wrapped gift with a card from both of them. I opened it up and it was a box of Ginger Green Tea.

While I enjoyed some with the Bananas Foster Nems made— blew out my own candles before remembering to make a wish, so I blew out theirs as well while making two good ones— I got a text mesage from Cait: “happy birthday i hope to buy you a drink or two this time next year in the meantime know i wish you everything good.”

“Not my favorite birthday message ever,” I said to Lei.

“What is your favorite birthday message ever?” she asked. “Do you remember any?”

I couldn’t, and realizing that, saw that Cait’s was actually a fairly nice message under the circumstances. Not something I felt I should reply to, but nice to know she’s not gone from my life entirely, and that we could maybe even be friends at some point when it hurts less.

Kept getting messages from my 3 years-older friend Nate, who shares my birthday and had had a birthday dinner in Brooklyn, so I cut out of Lei’s and cabbed it to Patio on Fifth Ave, where a few well-wishers were still reveling quietly when I showed up just before the stroke of midnight to a round of applause.

Jed bought me an approximation of a Dark ‘n’ Stormy— I say approximation because it was made with ginger ale rather than ginger beer. I actually had to go over and walk the bartender through the steps; when she had finished, she told me it was on the house since I’d taught her so much. “It’s my birthday too,” I informed her, for no good reason other than to further justify the free drink.

The group was nice enough to go several blocks out of their collective way to walk me home. A great guy like me shouldn’t be all alone on his birthday, and thanks to some really good friends, I didn’t feel that way nearly as much as I could have.

Don’t get me wrong— I’m still holding out hope that next year will be better. Maybe next year I will receive my favorite birthday message ever.



This one, sent along to me by my mom, almost qualifies for sheer topicality:

It’s the birthday of Tennessee Williams, (books by this author) born Thomas
Lanier Williams in Columbus, Mississippi (1911), author of more than 24
full-length plays, including Pulitzer Prize winners A Streetcar Named Desire
(1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955).

He said, “I have found it easier to identify with the characters who verge
upon hysteria, who were frightened of life, who were desperate to reach out
to another person. But these seemingly fragile people are the strong people
really.” And, “A high station in life is earned by the gallantry with which
appalling experiences are survived with grace.”

It’s the birthday of Robert Frost, (books by this author) born in San
Francisco (1874). He cultivated the image of a rural New England poet with a
pleasant disposition, but Frost’s personal life was full of tragedy and he
suffered from dark depressions.

He graduated from high school at the top of his class but dropped out of
Dartmouth after a semester and tried to convince his high school
co-valedictorian, Elinor White, to marry him immediately. She refused and
insisted on finishing college first. They did marry after she graduated, and
it was a union that would be filled with losses and feelings of alienation.
Their first son died from cholera at age three; Frost blamed himself for not
calling a doctor earlier and believed that God was punishing him for it. His
health declined, and his wife became depressed. In 1907, they had a daughter
who died three days after birth, and a few years later Elinor had a
miscarriage. Within a couple years, his sister Jeanie died in a mental
hospital, and his daughter Marjorie, of whom he was extremely fond, was
hospitalized with tuberculosis. Marjorie died a slow death after getting
married and giving birth, and a few years later, Frost’s wife died from
heart failure. His adult son, Carol, had become increasingly distraught, and
Frost went to visit him and to talk him out of suicide. Thinking the crisis
had passed, he returned home, and shortly afterward his son shot himself. He
also had to commit his daughter Irma to a mental hospital.

And through all of this, Robert Frost still became one of the most famous
poets in the United States. He said, “A poem begins with a lump in the
throat; a homesickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching out toward
expression, an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an
emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the word.”

And, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it
goes on.”

Of course I wouldn’t deign to compare my own petty trials and tribulations to the Job-like suffering of (my distant cousin) Tennessee or Frosty, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little validated by it, and encouraged by their patience, fortitude, and wisdom. It does go on. And I can go on, with grace and gallantry.


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Congee Ginger

Having tried Congee Bowery the other weekend, went to Congee Village with Nems and Lei before heading to the speakeasy she used to day manage.

The highlight of the meal was the frog’s legs with ginger and scallions, very light, tender, and, of course, aromatic.

Also tasty: the beef part of the beef and bitter melon.

Not as much so tasty for me: the bitter melon part of the beef and bitter melon.

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Upscale Ginger Cocktails

At certain lower east side speakeasies, you can just say an ingredient you’re interested in and they will offer you all sorts of suggestions. It could be the alcohol itself, or, in our case, as it seems to most always be these days, it was ginger.

Bourbon, ginger syrup, a splash of soda, and probably some other unbespoken alchemy because it tasted otherworldly, topped with a crystallized ginger garnish speared by two toothpicks.

The drink on the left was, I think, a variation on a Dark n Stormy made with pineapple juice. Not sure what made it foam up like that, but that kinda made it extra good. On the right was a crazy alcoholic (gin, I think) fruit,mint, ginger muddle topped with ice crushed to optimal pellet size. And a single blackberry.

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Brooklyn Whoopee Pie

Two moist and gingery (made with Thai crystallized ginger!) pumpkin cake cookies sandwiched around a soft cream cheese filling— so good I asked if they were looking to train any new bakers.

Brooklyn Whoopee Pies are $1.25 apiece at One Girl Cookies on Dean St., next to Bar Tabac.

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Blueberry Meyer Lemon Ginger Pound Cakes

Went to the Park Slope Food Coop, where I am a member in good current standing (finally! and of course my regular shift falls on my birthday next week), in search of ginger and other ingredients for an experimental gingerbread run.

The first question, of course, was organic or no? The difference between them was clearly visible in the color and texture of the various specimens’ skins, but were the organic’s qualities so much more desirable as to make it worth $2.36/lb more?

I decided to go with one large, healthy, multi-knobbed specimen of each, and set off in search of a fiery ginger beer, my secret weapon in ginger baking in the past. Unfortunately, ginger beer seems to be extremely popular among the stroller-and-sandals set, and, alas, there were none left. I will have to learn the ancient art of ginger brewing someday. I pick up a few packets of yeast in case I feel the need to test this out at a later date.

My haul: I decided to go with blueberries and Meyer lemons— they really do look and taste different from regular lemons, because they aren’t exactly lemons but rather a hybrid, first developed in China and brought back by a man named Meyer, of a lemon and a mandarin.

I also picked up a bag of gluten-free brown rice flour. As my first experiment, I think, wouldn’t it be nice to bake something that my friend Maureen, who suffers from the celiac disease, could eat? I knew I would be seeing her that night for the annual Atlantic Frantic pubcrawl planning meeting, so I made that my first task. Of course, I couldn’t use any of the Rogue Chocolate Stout Ale I planned to use for the second version, but I figured I’d try using water to thin out the molasses, which— correct me if I’m wrong— I’m pretty sure she CAN eat.

Didn’t look too bad at this point, so I added it to the dry ingredients. Batter still seemed a little on the thin side, but I figured it’d be okay, maybe it’d just need to bake longer.

How wrong I was!

Baking is not an art; it’s a science. And chemically speaking, brown rice flour and water are no substitute for wheat flour and rich, carbonated stout.

I set a second concoction to bubble, in hopes of better, if (sorry, Momo!) gluten-filled, results.

The stout and molasses get to bubbling. Then I add the baking soda.

Easy now! On the verge of bubbling over…

Slightly less sugar than is usually called for— scraping the cabinets. It will be a slightly more savory cake.

The batter is a good deal thicker than the last one, and quite tasty. And no oil used… about a half cup of apple sauce and I figure these will be quite moist.

Into the oven! Will they rise? Or will they spread?

It rose! They are kind of sticky, and don’t look quite as clean as I’d like, but they smell great.

And there was enough batter left over to bake a cake! I will be eating, and giving away, ginger cakes for weeks.

Cakes were well-received at the first stop of the Planning Committee meeting, Hank’s Saloon.

The bartender’s curiosity and appetite are piqued. On my insistence, she tears off a hunk and gives it a try. “You made that?” she asks, impressed.

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Maybe Not a Fool?

Another installment of Gchat advice from Liz, who is a never-ending fount of self-affirming words.

Liz: Hi

 me: howdy
Liz: I just read your post for today — Can I give a reaction to it?
or part of it?
me: sure
Liz: Ok, tell me if I’m over stepping.
I think that there is nothing foolish about holding out for something you wantbut I think that one should never hold on bc one is just scared of letting go
Liz: (I have thought about that issue a lot over time when thinking about getting into or out of various relationships or making other kinds of decisions about changing behaviors or other things)
 me: that’s fair… it’s certainly something to balance
 Liz: Yes, I don’t think its foolish to fight for something that you want
that’s all
me: i appreciate that

 Liz: Do you find that people like me are talking to you about personal issues because you have a blog?
when, pre-blog, those issues were off of the table?
 me: absolutely more now… i don’t know that they were off the table before… i have always been an open book emotionally
i wear my heart on my sleeve

Liz: Yeah, I guess I was thinking how much I might resent people weighing in on my life as I just did on yours

 Liz: so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t being a busy body
 me: your body is appropriately busy

 Liz: thanks
 me: my mom is a big fan of yours since she saw your career advice
 Liz: I think it takes a lot of confidence to discuss how you feel with a lot of people — I can only do it when I am confident about something
Thanks — I thought it was ok advice!

me: absolutely. spot on!

 Liz: but I’m not exactly impartial
 me: i should have asked you before cutting and pasting our IM convo
was/is that cool to do?
 Liz: Sure
so long as I’m not talking about Aa, its ok
 me: of course

it’s MY blog and we will ONLY talk about ME
 Liz: excellent
i like your haircut, by the way
 me: my haircut rules
 Liz: and i have a deep fondness of Pavement
 me: “bitch, rant down to the practice room!”
Liz: attention and fame…

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Just a Fool

 I am trying to maintain some dignity here, folks. From the Latin dignus, meaning worthy. That’s why, as some of you (perhaps not many) may have noticed, I changed the word “pathetic” in one of my last posts (regarding the liminal Cait situation) to “a fool.” Still self-deprecating, just not so dire. It’s a subtle distinction, but its a start.

I am going to turn over a new leaf here and commit myself to only humorous self-deprecation. If no comedic value exists, then it’s not worth publishing in any form. I’ll get a therapist and tell her all that stuff. For you all, dear readers, sunshine only. Unless it’s pies in my face.

Forgot to take pictures while over at Nems’ loft watching Eagle vs. Shark on awesome wall projection— though you’d think a movie called Eagle vs. Shark would be more of an iMax experience than this one, a subtle, quirky romantic comedy from New Zealand starring Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords, was. I actually tried to watch this same movie the other afternoon at another friend’s place and ended up taking a nap on his couch. This time I made it through, and was actually quite touched, and certainly amused at parts. Also favorably impressed by the music and cinematography. It reminded me quite a lot of Napoleon Dynamite, which I’m sure is something only an American philistine such as myself would say, but I mean it in a nice way.

Anyway, caught a picture of myself in front of my own doorway when I got home. Enjoying my new sharper look— my hair now all fits inside my hats!

Tomorrow I go for Day 3 of consecutive workouts at NY Sports Club, where i just joined up on Wednesday… Tennis, anyone?

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