Tuesday, February 27, 2007

100% certified free of soul-searching

The skies are gray today to mark my departure from Austin. So what on earth have I been doing with my time here, besides attending political rallies? Among other things...
- visited the O'henry museum, which was free, cute and informative, and enjoyable despite my vast ignorance of that particular author (though apparently not quite as vast as Richard's ignorance.) George Washington Carver museum, which was not very cute and not particularly informative. But also free :)
- shopping at natural food stores and thrift stores, eating excessive amounts of quinoa
- A fabulous weekend in College Station - between my cold, all the singing, and our night out on the town with Aggie alum Scott (highlights - extended tour of his alma mater, dominoes and beer at the Dixie Chicken, a walk through "bottlecap alley", a lesson on how to "gig em", and too many shots to round out the evening) I totally lost my voice on Sunday. I'm hoping to come back for the southwest texas convention or something so that I can put my brand new cooper book to good use. and practice my pronunciation of "i-ron."
- Academy Awards - not that any of us had really seen any of the movies nominated (the 2 movies I saw in 2006 in theaters were borat and click.), but it ended up being the perfect mindless activity after the long weekend mentioned above - and was it just us, or was it a particularly enjoyable oscars?? between the unbearable cuteness of the kids, ellen actually being funny, the hilarious will farrell/jack black song, the amazing dancers, al gore, the dreamgirls performance... so good!
- Pan's Labyrinth at the Alamo followed by tasty Mexican ( I got some veggie tamales para llevar)
- The long awaited arrested development marathon and late night haircut by KT

And now it's back on the road for another 2 day power drive. While I'm loathe to leave my friends behind, I'm excited to a) finish my audio book - Framed, I totally recommend this book and particularly the audiobook read with the great accent. and b) see MP!! Like many other people I've seen recently, it's been way too long!

Tonight in Amarillo, tomorrow Aspen! (After sunny and 70s Austin, I'm bracing for the snow and highs in the 20s...)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Obama soul searching

The Obama hype has been unavoidable for years, especially for a Chicago native such as myself, and until now I've followed my natural tendency to avoid anything so overblown. Working at Borders in December, I was continually blown away by how what seemed like 1 out of 3 customers bought a copy of The Audacity of Hope, and happily offered up their own testimonials of how they saw him speak way back when, and how he was so amazing, changed their lives, walked on water, etc

Katie, Richard, and I were among the huge crowd who saw Barack Obama speak today in Austin. at a highly anticipated rally. It was estimated up to 20,000 people, by far the biggest turn out he's had so far. While I showed up with some healthy cynicism and was grouchy after waiting for over an hour in the rain, I have to admit he is as amazing as promised. With that many people, the audience couldn't have just been hard-core obama supporters, but it never felt like he was trying to win our hearts and minds. It just felt like a more eloquent version of the political commentary we have sitting around with friends - de-escalate responsibly in iraq. why don't americans have healthcare? why are teachers underpaid? etc. Appealing to the common man is always popular, but it rarely seems this natural, and intelligent.

You've probably called me cynical before, and you've probably been right. In particular, I struggle a lot with my cynicism towards politics. Even before the past few years of super divisiveness, I've been so frustrated with the 2 party gridlock in the US. I've always been impressed at the ability of my friends and family who share my frustrations but can be pragmatic - campaigning for the democratic party or devoting their time to political activism. My coping strategy tends to be avoidance.

But then Obama comes along and tells me to suck it up and hope. Yes, I have snickered at his watchword. I figured, the Bush camp has a lock on those other universal ideals - freedom vs fear, so why shouldn't the democrats get in the game? But I have to admit, it's not that touchy feely after all. If it were, I wouldn't feel like he were calling me out when he asks, "Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?"

More than anything, I came away today with the sense that even if Obama doesn't make it anywhere in this election, it's important to be a part of this movement. To make this positive moment in american politics leave as big a mark as it can. Of course, the cynic in me is saying that it all sounds peachy now, but just wait until he has to tow that party line. Quick, hand me that Obama bumper sticker before I lose my nerve.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Next stop: Arkadelphia

So we ate our way through another day here in the Bluegrass State. Pancake breakfast, a trip to Value Market (ethnic friendly grocer in the south of the city, where many of Lauren's refugee clients live. we ran into a bunch of somali clients shopping.), and a late night snack cultural exchange - I made patacones (twice fried plantains from ecuador) and Ruth made me a Derby Pie. Lest you think all our adventures are culinary, we also threw in a trip to the laundromat and took in a Sherlock Holmes play.
For those keeping track I'm hitting the road again in a few short hours (hello, bedtime!). Mon night I will be taking up residence at the Pioneer Inn and on Tuesday night I plan to show up on KT and Richard's doorstep!

February check-in

Plenty to post, but little inclination to post it... just a brief howdy and a few points of interest so you don't forget about me:

1. A few weeks ago, my father emailed me a newspaper article entitled "Eagle Lugging a Deer Head Causes Outage", which opens with the stirring line, "About 10,000 Juneau residents briefly lost power after a bald eagle lugging a deer head crashed into transmission lines" and only gets better from there. It tells the noblest of stories, that of "the overly ambitious eagle who evidently found a deer head in the landfill." Disappointingly, the power was out for less than 45 minutes total - I was hoping for at least 24 hours - but it's still the best article anyone has emailed to me yet this year. I love Juneau.

2. Excitement abounds. My parents are in town until Thursday, and Rebecca's arriving Tuesday! Much to the consternation of both my bosses, I'm taking an ungodly amount of time off work this week, and I suspect next week will hold much of the same... especially since I won't have time to make up hours at NARAL the weekend after Rebecca leaves since Christina's coming to town for a Texas-rific 30-hour vacation! Holy out-of-town visitors, Batman! The following Thursday, I'm flying back east to attend B's uncle's memorial service. By a convenient quirk of fate, this will put me in Massachusetts for WMSHC weekend, with nothing to do but go and spend Saturday singing at the Center for the Arts! The week after that, SXSW attacks Austin, bringing concerts practically from dawn till dusk... and another houseguest (former boss and music-pal Jim). And two weeks after THAT I'll be back in Western Mass for the Annual Reproductive Rights Conference at Hampshire College. If I'm a particularly poor correspondant this spring, please forgive me...

3. R and I somehow became total Barack Obama suckers this month. We ordered ourselves an $11 Obama bumper sticker, and are excited silly about going to see him speak - for free! - this Friday.

Okay, everything else is too boring to write about. I'm outta here.



Saturday, February 17, 2007

Southern hospitality

Well, I'm sure no one will be surprised that I was late packing up all my worldly belongings and didn't get out of Chicago until 5 pm on Friday... nothing like that chicago rush hour. boh. Fortunately it's a shrot drive to Louisville and L and R were quite understanding despite already being in bed when I arrived (damn eastern time!). Hopefully my presents were enticing enough to stay up for... Amongst them was a south indian vegetarian cookbook that i found in one of my book crates in the back of my closet... everything looked so delicious, but I had never used it and Lauren LIVED in south india for god's sake, and loves to cook indian food, so I think it's found a better home. In fact, we are off to the indian food market right now in order to cook up a big feast tonight! It will be a nice contrast to lunch, which was delicious southern comfort food at Lynn's - eggs over easy, cheese grits, biscuits with sorghum butter, and a side of herb braised lima beans. mmmmmmmmmmm Forunately we took an extended walk around the neighborhood, including the cemetery which katie and i had seen in the summer, and I now got to see blanketed in snow! (Yes, I brought winter south with me! I'm counting on Austin for some warm weather.)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

An ode to pandora

I know you're all cooler than me and didn't wait years (and for their external hardrive music library to go on the fritz) to try Pandora. But in case you're still holding out, I can't say enough how excellent it is. Who else will alternate between sets of American roots music and Latin pop, AND for good measure toss in such randomness as "If He's Good Enough For Lindy" (doesn't every radio station play Herbert Hoover's campaign song??)

Check out what I'm listening to, or make your own station.

An Ode to Roller Derby

Soooo I'm leaving Chicago tomorrow, and I haven't even come close to posting an album a day. So much for self-set goals. There's a small offering today, and I'll try to catch up in off moments over the next few weeks. Katie and Richard have to work sometime, and there's only so many arrested development dvds...

But this post is dedicated to Roller Derby! Natalia (aka Mexican Jumping Mean) has been big into derby for a few years, but I haven't been in town to see a bout until now! It was pretty faaabulous. What is this derby of which you speak? Well, if, unlike my dad, you were not lucky enough to see it during the 50s, follow these links to enlightenment.

Read about it in trusty old wikipedia

Watch a short news clip on youtube. A heartwarming AND informative human interest story from the friendly folks at KTRU Houston... now back to you Bob...

Check out my pictures from the bout on Sunday! In which Natalia's team (the Kilopatras) came back in the final period to beat the Ultraviolents, and Natalia totally rocked the rink.

For upcoming bouts check out Natalia's league site, the Chicago Sirens

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Photos, as promised!!

Hopefully you've already forgotten my goal of averaging one new album per day over the next week. I'm trying anyway... here's the first installment! Yes, KT already posted many of these pictures. Tough.

In other Fotki news...

Even though I haven't finished updating them, I archived the Ecuador photos... sniff... you can find them in this folder.

I also spent a good part of the morning tagging all the photos!! That was fun, and now you can see my photos by subject. I love the prominence of "despedida."

Friday, February 09, 2007

On breakfast

Fotki, my fabulous photohosting site, constantly has photo contests going on, which I keep meaning to pay attention to and enter because the top 3 win a free premium membership. The latest one was:

My Breakfast
Submit a photo of your breakfast: it's up to you to select the best photo of your breakfast or a photo or your best breakfast. Needless saying, it should be fresh and tasty :). Bon app├ętit!

(how excellent is their overly friendly rambling and not-quite-right english... it's a totally professional site, but it gives off the vibe of being run by some random eastern european family - all the faqs etc read like this. i love fotki.)

Anyway, the voting is still going on (members only) but here are my faves.
1st place
2nd place
3rd place
honorable mention

If I had gotten around to entering, this would have been my most viable entry. (Yes, that was definitely my breakfast that day. Sara took it when we were at the beach for Carnaval, appalled at my affinity for eating them with cheese. I used to eat them for breakfast all the time actually, i remember walking to the market where i worked at CENIT, you could smell from down the block if the old woman had set up to grill maduros. mmmm.) Not a winning photo, but it wouldn't take much to beat the scrambled eggs and cereal most people entered.

Another day, another 15 hour drive

I think there is an evil conspiracy in which new york state gets longer every time I drive through it. Of course the snow didn't help... I already knew I was in for it after A's roommate turned on CNN as usual this morning and the big story was NY's heavy snowfall. Boh. At least it wasn't wet and slippery, just cold and dry... but the crazy gusting wind sweeping the snow around did NOT help driving conditions. I took the pictures at a rest stop in Pennsylvania... the roads were clear but the parking lots were another story... it was actually rather pretty at sunset...

And here I am back in a warm bed in Oak Park. Lots of plans this weekend, but first a lazy morning is DEFINITELY in order.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

You mean, the New Yorker doesn't just publish those silly cartoons?

It occurs to me that I’ve recently read two excellent examples of food writing from the New Yorker (this one that appeared in my Best Food Writing 2005, and this one that a friend emailed my way), and that it might be worth my while to browse on their site for more. First thing, I turn up an article about eating fanesca in Ecuador (yummmmmmm… is it semana santa yet???), and touches on a lot of other traditional foods there. You can find the whole article here. (I totally watched the same telenovela as the author in high school.)

Or at least read this evocative description of Ecuador’s markets that made me instantly hungry and homesick…
My first trip to one of Cuenca’s markets made it obvious that I was about as close to the source of fanesca’s ingredients as I could get without living in the middle of a bean patch. All the vegetables and spices required—corn, for instance, and fava beans and a couple of kinds of squash—grow in the area, and some of them apparently don’t make it as far as Guayaquil, which is only thirty minutes away by air. That may be because the distribution system seems to consist largely of indigenous women who come to the market from the countryside, many of them in the bright-colored flared skirts and high-crowned panama hats that can make even a small woman of some years look rather, well, zippy. In the markets, they sit behind gunnysacks of what their families have grown—ten or twelve kinds of potatoes, or outsized corn kernels of various ages, or a selection of beans so large and potatoes so small that even one of those compulsive veggie connoisseurs who frequent markets like Union Square, in Manhattan, or the Ferry Building, in San Francisco, would have to do some close inspection to make certain that she wasn’t on the path to making her signature bean salad out of spuds by mistake.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Back to unemployment...

Tomorrow is already my last day of work at the CHC! While i will staunchly resist the impassioned pleas for me to stay there forever, i would like to point out what a wonderful place to work it is. The other day a bunch of us had a free lunch that the IT guy won at Nikita's. Turns out it was hosted by a financial adviser guy who did his spiel first. At one point he asked the rhetorical question "Who here thinks they should pay MORE taxes?" - To which the two highest paid people at the table, the medical/dental clinical directors, raise their hands! I love it.

So I'm really breaking in my new car - those 82,000 miles have turned into 85,000 awfully quickly... don't tell my insurance company. This week in particular - the weekend I went out to Boston, tonight I went down to New Haven, tomorrow up to Northampton, and Thursday back to Chicago! Sheesh.

Yes, I've suddenly had a rash of catching up with old friends! So lovely! I had wonderfully relaxing back to back weekends with Lauren and Briana, both filled with grocery shopping, cooking, and chilling. Tonight I got to compare notes post-Ecuador with ex-roommateBerry! She also fed me wonderful noodles and introduced me to Tasty Delight.

Still on the agenda before heading west - more singing, finishing my paint job in Andrea's attic, catching An Inconvenient Truth on our free On-Demand, trying not to get paralyzingly depressed after watching said film, buying more dates at Middlesex Fruitery, and packing. Now, off to get my beauty rest....

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Squeezes in before the deadline...

So, as per the comments on the post below, my KT imposed deadline for posting photos is in a scant few minutes. Despite dimly recalling said deadline, and being explicitly reminded by Katie with hours to spare, what did I spend my evening doing? Not browsing audiobooks at Russell Library, or watching The Office, or cooking up some trusty mac n broccoli, or reading more fanfic... no, I'm sure I didn't do any of those things. In my defense, I stared at spreadsheets and charts all day. (I'm a pivot chart maker extraordinaire!) So here is my sad little solitary picture as the midnight hour approaches. It's actually not sad at all - it's the picture I currently have showing on my cell phone, and it makes me happy :)
Real picture bonanza coming soon, I swear! My goal is one album per day while I am in Chicago and job free.