Tuesday, August 28, 2007

She can talk!

So I broke my vow of silence tonight, in celebration of the end of the prescribed week of voice rest.

And, creepily enough, my voice does sound a little different. Bright and shinier, which I can't get used to. (My wonderful mother was quick to point out that it just sounds like my real voice again. So there.)

That's all. I just wanted to share. Nerdily enough, I can't wait to go grocery shopping again. It's the little things, honestly...



Monday, August 27, 2007

The most fertile culinary class this side of the Mississippi

Today was a bit emotional - our last class! Most of us are staying in the area and even the 2 who are moving back to Detroit are staying another month, so we didn't really have any tearful goodbyes. BUT, the big news is that we found out another classmate is pregnant! Yes, 2/7 of us are recently knocked up! It's powerful stuff, this healthy food. No joke.

also - I saw September Dawn last night, aka the crazy mormon movie, with some coworkers (thankfully for free.) The story is historically kind of interesting, particularly as I was just reading an article by Howard Zinn about under-the-radar massacres, of all things. But the movie is just this laughable soap opera of a teen "romance". And did I mention the Crazy Mormons? And hey, did you notice this historical event happened on September 11th, 150 years ago? No? That's ok, it's practically right there in the title for you. And boy, those Mormons sure are crazy, huh? I'm still kind of agog. Thank you, rotton tomatoes, for documenting the movie's many abominations far more extensively and wittily than I have time for. I officially have lost any shame at reading fanfic, because most of what I read is better and smarter than most multi-million dollar budgeted movies out there.

Also, there appears to be only one Mormon joke, judging from the non-consecutive occasions on which our mention of the movie elicited it.

"How do you keep a Mormon from drinking all your beer on a fishing trip?" "Take TWO Mormons". Yeah.

And, by the by, don't you wish you lived somewhere where "out east" included not only Chicago, but Texas and Georgia, and "down South" meant LA? Ah, California.

Friday, August 24, 2007

My decadent lifestyle

Good luck, Rebecca! Kick some ass! Shred some carrots! Or something...

So I had to resurface to share with you a visual representation of the sad, sorry state I find myself in. Behold, an image of our kitchen table as it appears at this moment:

That's right, your eyes do not deceive you. From left to right, items of interest include but are not limited to:

1. Prescription painkillers
2. Empty beer bottle (editor's note: not mine, but adds a lot to the pathos of the photo...)
3. Empty container of ice cream
4. Dress I just bought for convention next month (did someone say, drowning your sorrows in thrift stores?)
5. Latest issue of The Advocate, my preferred trashy gay newsmagazine

Other indications I am living in squalor and decadence:

6. Rufus Wainwright's new album in the CD player (16-piece orchestra, a song called "Between My Legs," and a guy posing in lederhosen in the liner notes; honestly now)
7. Leaving work at 11:00 this morning
8. Massive quantities of banana bread constituting 50% of my daily nutritional intake so far today
9. Need I go on?

Inspired by my own patheticness, I think I've finally summoned up the strength to do something with my life. Off to do some crossword puzzles and baking... as always, check back for frequent updates from the post-op ward!

The big night

In an hour I'm off to prep for tonight's culinary showcase. It's been quite a week... our class gets on really well but there's been the usual ration of DRAMA in coming to group decisions as the intensity heats up. Not quite Hell's Kitchen (or so I hear) but I could still do without. I'm the only one without any guests attending, which I'm very happy about because it means I'm not stressing about impressing anyone, or trying to juggle all the prep work this week with visiting family/friends, like most of the other women.

Wish me luck! I'll take some pictures and publish the menu later on.


Well, the unthinkable has happened. I, the girl whose idea of the perfect afterlife is never having to change out of my pajamas, have gone completely stir-crazy. It's too hot to go outside. Our DVD player is unreliable at best. We get four TV stations. I'm just headachey enough that being on the computer is a bit of a pain (though clearly not enough to deter me from self-exposatory rambling...) and just draggy enough that I can't seem to get much of anything done. I haven't been expending enough energy to be able to sleep. I'm sick of reading. Being around friends without being able to talk or laugh out loud is too exhausting. The complications of maneuvering my way through public space and interactions with strangers is enough to overwhelm me before I even get out the door. I give up! 100% VOICE REST WILL BE THE DEATH OF ME!!!

In other news, I have three new best friends: my mother and two members of the Edwards family who are, with incredible generosity, sponsoring my kickathon with donations to support women's self-defense and nonviolence community outreach in Austin. Who's next? (You know you're dying to be immortalized in 17th-century English verse!) According to the kickathon hand-out I got, I'm supposed to encourage you to pledge by explaining how long I have studied karate, what belts I have earned, and what my future goals are. So here goes: I started studying in April, I just earned my blue stripe, and my future goal is to become a black belt, because I sort of don't believe I could do it and I desperately, desperately want to prove myself wrong. I started taking karate because I've always been un-athletic and bad at sports, which just made me never want to try because I knew I was setting myself up for failure. I have MASSIVE insecurities about anything involving any sort of strength or athleticism, particularly male vs. female issues (come on, I know I'm not the only former fat kid, the one who made all the boys groan when I was assigned to their team in gym class, reading this right now...). The dojo where I go is primarily women - all the instructors are women, and there are only a few co-ed classes per week - which is the only thing that gave me the confidence to start taking classes at first and then stick with it. It's an amazing dojo; the community is tight-knit and supportive, the Sensei and the other teachers are incredibly inspirational, and because of the fact that we're (mostly) all women learning to punch and kick and defend ourselves and look people straight in the eye, there's a focus on self-empowerment, avoiding or leaving abusive relationships, strength of spirit, and doing what, as women, we never thought we could do - or, as is also so often the case, what others never expected us to do. They're a wonderful organization and it would mean so much to me if you felt moved to make a donation to them.

Oh yeah, and I'm also supposed to tell you that the kickathon will be hard and will require strength, discipline, and non-quitting spirit! (I'm terrified already...) What's that link again, Katie? HERE IT IS, HERE IT IS!

(Yikes, I'd better watch out or this will turn into an actual blog, the kind where the writer shares way too much personal information all the time and you're vaguely horrified but still find yourself checking it every two hours...)

Okay, enough out of me already... stay tuned this weekend, because I suspect I have a lot more typing to do before my voice rest is over on Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Latin America for (lefty) dummies

Democracy: Latin America Leaps Ahead

Change is the rule in today's Latin America. The people demanded a new direction, and dictatorships have given way to democracies. After 20 years of stagnation, economies are taking off, and people are rising out of poverty. Here are stories of change from the bottom up — Latin America shows us the way.

I know I'm always blabbing about obscurish Andean politics and boring the pants off of you. Believe me, I tried and couldn't really get invested in it before I moved down there and made it personal. And my attention still wanders when I read about places like Brazil and Venezuela, that are really more important in the scheme of world affairs but aren't close to my heart. Plus it seems like the only news you see about the region in English are wordy economic analyses or lazy AP reports. So I was excited that this month's Yes! magazine features a shiny special guide to recent developments and newly elected leaders.

For anyone who ever wondered what the real deal is with the so-called rise of the left in South America, beyond the Chavez vs. Bush namecalling headlines that dominate US media. They offer a cool interactive map overview followed by a comprehensive array of articles on hot issues. With easy words and big pretty pictures. And other fun things like quotes, lists, "in their own words" sidebars, art, poetry. But conscientiously researched and reported with a focus on race/gender/class issues and respect for popular culture. Kind of like if your junior high social studies reader got smarter and decided to promote a liberal agenda. You can find it all at your local library, bookseller, or over here on their website. (It's even in Spanish here!)

My only complaint is that this magazine sometimes seems less about educating than providing Inspiration! to middle-class progressive types. (The name alone is nauseating.) For example, their Cuban report telling of the enormous generosity of Cuba's medical work abroad is titled "Health Care for All. Love, Cuba." Whoa. We all like to bust the US government's bubble of propaganda, but give the rose colored glasses a rest there folks. To be fair, this uplifting rhetoric of progress and solidarity is just how the movements are sold at home in Latin America, and so it rings true in that sense. (As does the Cuba-philism.) Indeed, the articles are mainly written by contributing Latino experts in their field - props to the people at Yes! for getting that right.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rest in peace, sexy voice...

Well, my friends, in about sixteen hours I will be putting myself at the mercy of one Dr. Slaughter (such a nice auspicious name...) who will put me to sleep and then proceed to remove my vocal cord nodules and straighten out my septum. Whenever I wake up from the anethesia enough to sit up properly and say a coherent sentence (my guess is Friday), I'll have a whole new voice! Well, I'll probably sound a lot like I did in 2001 or so. At any rate, I won't be able to talk much for the next week or so, so don't call me unless you have plenty to say and don't expect any response!

Unrelatedly, I earned my blue stripe in karate on Saturday - that means I'm a senior white belt! Which means I can totally kick the ass of... all those other white belts who just started in the past couple of weeks. Sigh. I'm unduly proud of myself. Oh, and our dojo is having a kickathon fundraiser that just kicked off (ha) this weekend... on November 4th, I'll be doing 1000 kicks to raise money for the nonprofit that runs our wonderful women-headed dojo. The money goes toward free self-defense classes for girls, teenagers, and women in the Austin community, as well as martial arts scholarships, and other self-defense outreach and education. If you want to give me some incentive to do 1000 kicks (I'm only an out-of-shape white belt, I need all the help I can get!!!!!!), or help the organization's mission of ending violence in the local community, or just want to help me fulfill my own personal goal of doing whatever it takes to impress my adorable Sensei, please please please click here to make a donation to sponsor me! I know Rebecca and I hit y'all up for goodwill donations more than we probably should, so this time I'll add a little incentive. If you sponsor me, I will do one or more of the following options of your choosing:

1. Write a five-verse ode about you (with rhymes and everything).

2. Bake you two dozen cookies of your choice next time I'm in your area or you're in mine.

3. Mail you a mystery present of my own choosing (no fair making requests).

In the spirit of the challenge, I'll permit you to select one, two, or three of the above options. In the event that I am overwhelmed with donations, I may later have to limit this to just one - so get your donation in now!!!

Okay, signing off until I wake up later this week...



So much books

After 2 weeks off, worked my regular shift at the bookstore yesterday. Then spent the evening at a work shindig (a despedida!) which was sort of exactly what you expect when bookstore types hang out after work - lots of shop talk and reminiscing about making our own libraries as kids (yes, every single one of us. neeeerds!) Though just to remind you that we're not just bookstore types, we're hip indie bookstore types, later that night found some of us getting kicked out of a club downtown for fighting. (Not to worry, miss responsible here stayed out of trouble. Just got lots of cred with the new coworkers for designated driving and chick-fighter restraining. I've been informed that in the future they "have my back." Sweet.)

In actual book news

Whoa Eat Pray Love flying off the shelves even more than usual and everyone and their mother raving about it. Ok, ok, I'll read it already.

We've had some returns of the Harry Potter books from the first shipment that were defective and fell apart. Good times. Oh, and JKR is writing a detective novel.

I randomly picked up Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations...One School at a Time and couldn't put it down, even though my attention span in between customers is usually limited to Entertainment Weekly.

Speaking of EW, I was flipping through their fall movie preview and there's all kinds of crazy things coming out. Mostly 23423547 adaptations.Golden Compass of course (anti-catholicism edited out, blah. and starring nicole kidman AND the latest bond and bond girl. geez.) Brad Pitt as Jesse James, a special effects happy Harry Potter ripoff disguised as a Dark is Rising adaptation, Jerry Seinfeld's bee movie (titled, um, Bee Movie), The Kite Runner is a movie, the Coen Brothers do No Country for Old Men, Beowulf stars Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett plays Bob Dylan (??), a roaring 20s football movie with George Clooney and Renee Zellweger, Tim Burton does Sweeney Todd with Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, and Sacha Baron Cohen. Etc. Man, I've seen, err, 3 movies in theaters this year, but I may have to pick up the pace a bit.

Met the author of Farewell to Manzanar (which I've only read excerpts of, must rectify that.) She's local and awfully sweet and funny - she had just come from The Bourne Supremacy at the theater next door and was chatting with us about how she likes to go to movies by herself because her husband will only see "erudite" films.

Speaking of which we have some KILLER author events coming up this fall. Tom Brokaw, and some celebrity chefs - Anthony Bourdain (the guy who wrote Kitchen Confidential and has that tv show where he eats crazy things), Mollie Katzen (You probably own one of her vegetarian cookbooks - Enchanted Broccoli Forest? Moosewood?)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Que viva Pisco

Maybe you've heard that there was a major earthquake in Peru yesterday. I saw the story last night, but didn't find out until tonight how badly it hit Pisco. I have such fond memories of the night my dad and I spent there last fall. It was the last stop on our trip together, just a place to break the trip up the panamerican between nazca and lima. It was warm and welcoming and fine for an evening stroll. And now to read that the small city is leveled, with hundreds dead, many of whom were at a mass at the main cathedral when it collapsed. Bodies lining the streets. Pretty grim.

Anyway, I just want to share Pisco as I remember it.

The Plaza de Armas. (photo stolen from google images as I only have night shots.)

We walked around the plaza at night and bought tejas, the yummy local candy, from one of the street vendors. I thought it was hilarious how the cathedral shared a wall with a casino.

I chose the hostel for its kitchen and we had a good time scouring the city for fresh produce after everyone warned us away from the market after dark. I can still taste this meal of fresh habas and oca.

And you may remember how we proudly documented ourselves drinking pisco sours in pisco.

In Lima, the flags fly at half mast today. (from yahoo news)

Look, non-hypothetical jam!!

Certain readers have been putting up with my continued threats to make jam out of the mountains of strawberries my dad and I picked on Monday. And just on the wrong side of midnight, my dream became reality. Ooh, that magical popping sound.

My data is all backed up and the computer is sort of behaving for now, so I promise to return with substantive posts. Stay tuned for more about the jam, and other goings on. Which, I won't lie, also mostly involve food.

Friday, August 10, 2007

the bell tolls for thee, ibook

So, last night my computer up and died. Well, technically, it was resurrected today, and I'm writing this post on it right now. But I'm really pushing my luck as it's due to start up the heartwrenching death rattle at any moment, and I should be saving this precious vitality for backing things up once I buy my shiny new external hard drive (which was fortunately already on my shopping list.)

For now my baby is on strict bedrest. Its days of 24/7 bloging/emailing/photoshopping/torrent downloading/radio streaming binges are over.

This, plus my dad visiting adds up to deafening silence from my direction for awhile. Good thing KT's back in the saddle with the whole WEblogging concept, eh? Wink wink, nudge nudge?

Also, I could reeeally use a job about now. heh.

Oh, a tidbit of real-life-news... we were looking for a dvd to watch tonight, and I discovered that we have the whole Schoolhouse Rock series on VHS! So I introduced my dad to "just a bill" and the other social studies stand-bys. It's hard to pick a favorite jaw-dropping moment in white-washed-star-spangled-historical-mythology, in a playing field so full. It would probably have to be how eli whitney saved the south by putting applecheeked white children to work on his cotton gin. Here's to Michael Eisner, glossing over slavery with the best of them.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Putting the "we" in "blog" (ha, there really is a "we" in "weblog")

So for the million and sixth time I came home after 7 hours at work on the computer and swore I wasn't going to even touch our computer, particularly since I've been getting the first twinges of carpal-tunnel wrist on my mousing hand this week, which always happens when I don't take enough time off away from The Machine. And for the million and sixth time - well, here I am. With God as my witness, I swear that once we leave Austin I will NOT take another desk job. No matter how tempting. Or for how good a cause. I will NOT. But I figured as long as I'm home with nothing to do this evening and I have to leave the computer up and running for another hour anyways while Richard's Ryan Adams concert finishes downloading, I might as well suck it up and say hi.

I never know where to begin updating, since I always wait too long between posts. Of note: Saw "The Bourne Ultimatum" (I have to admit, I love those stupid movies - what's not to like about Matt Damon outsmarting the CIA... over... and over... and over... and over again?); went to a meet-and-greet with Rep. Rick Noriega (get this - Catholic, Texan, lietenant colonel, and - wait for it - STAUNCHLY PRO-CHOICE) who with any luck (sigh, who am I kidding?) will replace John Cornyn in the U.S. Senate next fall (a girl can dream, right?); did hot yoga for the first time (and am ashamed to admit that, after years of snubbing it as dumb and trendy, I have to admit I kind of like it... there's a real sense of accomplishment - icky but satisfying - that comes with watching the sweat literally pour off your body onto the floor... and it gives me such a falsely overblown sense of my own flexibility!); re-watched "Brokeback Mountain" and fell madly in love with it all over again; got diagnosed for vocal cord nodules and a deviated septum (apparently resulting from a fractured nose when I was little, which was news to both the owner of the nose and all members of her family) and subsequently scheduled myself for corrective surgery on the 21st (to which Richard, much to my chagrin, insists upon referring as my upcoming nose job); spent too much money at Half Price Books (it's just so big! and so cheap! and so close to our house!); went to my first gallery opening in Austin (mediocre); and read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in one 8-hour sitting.

Upcoming: A Julia Alvarez book reading at the public library; our first trip out to East Texas for a weekend of singing (there may be 6 of us staying in Bill & Quincy's hotel room because none of us wants to be the killjoy who insists on reserving a second room... it'll be quite a slumber party!); R is getting his first massage from Alexa (will their relationship ever be the same? stay tuned to find out!!); and at the end of next month, we get to see Jenna and Rebecca! What a summer it's been.

Oh my dear sweet lord. Richard's downloading concert is at 98.2% completion and still has another half hour to go. I don't know if I can keep writing for that long. Let me distract you with some pictures... consider these a snapshot of the summer:

Too. Much. Popcorn.

All dressed up to go two-steppin'!

Me and Trini in New York (Sandy was there too, to complete our Paris-study-abroad-reunion-trifecta, but this picture came out better!)

What I discovered upon returning from Israel and opening the refrigerator...

R blowing out his birthday brownie

Damn, 15 more minutes of concert downloading to go... well, you'll just have to spend the rest of the evening without me. Happy Tuesday!



Monday, August 06, 2007

quadricentennialism again, now with 400% more coherence.

Ah last post. How little of you I remember writing. I did take a VERY short nap afterward and despite keeping up with a small child for the several hours since I feel slightly more in a state of mind to make public commentary. I just wanted to point out that upon closer inspection, my suspicions were correct - I'm a huge blog nerd who has marked every posting centennial.

100 In which I celebrate Halloween Día del Escudo Nacional and get a job.
200 In which m is born and i rock the choral festival scene.
300 In which said post is shorter than this description. But much better.

And we're already making headway to the quincentennial... (yes KT, there is a "we" in blog!)

Have I mentioned that I've self-diagnosed myself with obsessive nostalgia?

Just for the big n

Hee, n spammed the blog! Best inbox filler ever. Apparently she demands blog entertainment, so I shall post despite having nothing to say since I just emailed her. Ha, I told her I'd do so despite scaring all of you away. Now THATS friendship.

Well I have things to say but they will not come out in a coherent manner at the moment (err, the first time I typed that it came out "monet". you see the incoherence?), as I just finished my final presentation (phew...) and am for some reason foregoing sleep for internet and shower, despite my all nighter and the impending arrival of a certain newly 5 year old boy who shall require many races to the park and gymnastics in the back yard and what have you..

OH, and I didn't even notice that the last post was the blog QUADRICENTENNIAL! (Boy did I ever have to look up THAT word.) I guess it was appropriately reflecting anyway. My next post will probably be a bit reflecty too, finals related and all.

OOH N - if you need entertainment at work, have you checked out this BSC blog yet?? You will kill an afternoon on it for sure. It keeps making me want to read the superspecials, but no I haven't read HP yet, so priorities...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Thanksgiving. The non-cranberry kind. Mmm... cranberries...

Is it just me, or is there an epidemic of MajorLifeChangitis going around? Like the mid-20s crisis or something? I can't tell you how many people are up and quitting their jobs / making a major move / going back to school. It's kind of making me dizzy. Or maybe that's just my own life. I've been really occupied this summer with school and happy with our close knit class of 7 great women. But I'm coming up on the last month filled with final projects, and facing the prospect of the return to Real Life, with a Real Highly Hypothetical Job. So I've been feeling more than usual the stress of my fragmented life and all the wonderful people I'm so far away from (eg - You!). For all my neuroses, I'm generally a pretty solid emotional rock, which others sometimes like to rest on. Or so I hear. Hence this anxiety is rather disconcerting to my sense of self.

An incomplete list of things that are shiny and happy and make me feel like myself, and which I'm happily experiencing a lot of right now. In no particular order:
Singing - Drove up to Berkeley the last two weeks, and have been listening to cooper book goodness in anticipation of the Southwest Texas! Also, my voice is sounding the best it ever has, which is really pleasantly surprisingly. I think it's thanks to this strange lack of yelling at children or inhaling massive amounts of pollution. (And my general immersion in healthful eating and wellness.)
Long meaty life filled emails from favorite people. - Email is love. Bringing me closer to you while warming my antisocial telephone-phobic heart.
Postcards - Mostly from my mom (I am in awe at the staying power of her Lewis and Clark obsession.) But also an "out of the blue" one from Andrea.
Seeing people in the flesh, or the tantalizing prospect of doing so in the near future - My dad's visit is impending and it's fun to plan activities for 2. Also, Rebecca is the latest to leave Quito, and in 9 days she'll be in Berkeley for law school! Which not only means quality time for us, but exponentially increases the attraction for our other friends to visit.

In conclusion, love and kisses to all.

Fine print: This has not been an attempt to guilt you, dear reader, into participating in those activities. Just a thanks!
Finer print: If it did guilt you into it, so much the better ;)