Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pleasures of Unemployment.

1. Waking up everyday at 9 instead of 6. Getting 9-10 hours of sleep a night.
2. A nearly empty gym at mid-day to exercise in where I can watch David Duchovny work-out with his trainer.
3. Quality, interrupted writing time that I am actually taking advantage of.
4. Sunny, beautiful spring days not stuck in an office.
5. The chance to cook dinners that I might never make otherwise because I didn't have the time. The other night, I slow roasted a chicken for two hours. On a weeknight!
6. Job hunting breaks = watch a movie or read a book.
7. Spring cleaning: Slowly but surely, the clutter is going away.
8. The feeling like I have done more in these two weeks than I have done in months.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

12 Rounds: The East Coast Party

Dan's college pal and former roommate, also named Dan, wrote the screenplay of the action movie 12 Rounds which opened in theaters on Friday. While most of their friends were planning a major celebration and movie screening at the famous Grauman's Chinese Theater in Los Angeles (pretty cool, right?), we honored the man and his achievement New York style with a viewing of the movie at Union Square (and since the film is based in New Orleans) followed by some po'boys and pitchers of Abita beer at Acme afterward.

By the banter, the nonstop eating and beer drinking, you would have thought that my Dan wrote the thing himself--he was so excited. Everyone was ready to go home after dinner, but Dan would have none of it and we walked to another pub and had a few more rounds. (I think the goal was to have 12 rounds that night).

I may be biased, but I thought the movie was a lot of fun and especially thought it was funny that Dan would name the star of his film after himself. John Cena's character's name was "Danny." Though it is very possible that the screenwriter's actual muse was this guy:

Dan points out Kunka's name on the movie poster. Here's
my version of the picture taken a few months ago.

Our 12 rounds party crew at dinner: Justin, Nien, Kim, Tom, Dan and Kayleen. Can you guess who's having the most fun?

The day after.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"New" Music

I have zero grasp about what is happening in the world of music right now. I rely on Dan to supply the soundtrack of our lives. We all know that his tastes run old, and I am content to listen to the same classic rock albums over and over again.

But I saw this band The Airborne Toxic Event on a rare night of watching David Letterman and just fell in love with their sound. I got their CD (probably the first "new band" CD I bought in a year) and every time I listen to it, which is a lot lately, it makes me feel happy and inspired.

According to Wikipedia, in December 2008, iTunes named the band's song "Sometime Around Midnight" the number one alternative song of 2008. So it's possible everyone already knows about them already (I seriously have no idea) but if you don't, check them out.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

This is not working

As of Friday, I am officially unemployed and looking for more freelance work. It usually takes me a few weeks to find something new though with this economy who knows? [Cue in the doom and gloom music].

While it is nice to have some time off, in the past I haven't really taken advantage and spent the majority of my days obsessively job hunting on my computer for hours, which made me feel tense and depressed and worthless my entire time off until I found a new job.

There is something in my brain that says NOT THIS TIME. Yes, I do have to spend a portion of my day job hunting because I do have to pay my bills. But I will not obsess and I will not drive myself into a stupor of despair.

I absolutely must take advantage of this situation I am in. It's the first days of Spring and I am ready for a renewal. I have got time of my hands. Either you use it or lose it. I won't be losing it this time.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The other night, I went to the Idlewild Bookstore to see Molly Wizenberg give a discussion about her new book, A Homemade Life. For those who don't know, Molly is girl with a love of both writing and food who decided five years ago to quit her PH.D. program in cultural anthropology and start a food blog called Orangette--which she starting writing just for fun but now has a major following. Due to the success of her blog, she writes a monthly column in one of my favorite magazines, Bon Appetit, and now is promoting her new book which is getting pretty good reviews. And on top of all that, she is a really good writer. Yes, she is living one version of my dream life.

I debated whether or not to go to the talk. I learned that my freelance gig ends on Friday, which automatically placed a huge weight on my shoulders (I need a job to pay the bills) and my soul (I need to find work that fulfills me)--and I wasn't sure if hearing this girl's story would inspire me or drown me in self-pity.

Things that impacted me during her talk:

Molly revealed how writing was something that was always very hard for her which surprised me. When I read her writing, her prose just oozes ease. For someone who struggles with my own writing, this comforted me a lot. She said that when it comes to writing, sometimes it is difficult because since she cares about it so much, if you fail, the heartbreak is all the worse. She said it more eloquently than that, and the way she said it nearly brought a tear in my eye. So true, so true.

Looking at the giant crowd packed into the tiny bookstore, Molly said (and I paraphrase again), "I never imagined five years ago that I would be standing here today." It made me think about how everyone has the power to completely change their life and steer it in the direction of their dreams. This girl decided five years ago that she wanted to write and she wanted to surround her life with food. Look where she is now. I haven't stopped thinking about it since.

I am glad I went.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Croissant Party of Four

My friend Heather has many goals in life. Over 40 goals in fact. She has written them all down in a list she calls 40x40: Forty things she wants to get done before she turns 40.

In early February, I, along with about ten other girls, received an invitation to Heather's apartment in Brooklyn Heights to help her accomplish goal #36: make homemade croissants. I love croissants, I love baking and I love Heather so I was definitely in. But when Heather sent a second email invitation three weeks later, where she spoke of "serious baking" and "mimosas" in the same sentence, I started to have some doubts about how successful we would be. I mean, wasn't croissant-baking a complicated endeavor?

Heather figured this out a week later because we all got a nervously written email about how she found out it takes two days to prepare the dough. She attached a Julia Child video we were supposed to watch as homework. I was too overwhelmed to watch it seriously. Despite everything, her fourth email sounded vaguely optimistic, she would start the dough-making process the day before, she had it all figured out, but who knew what would really happen on croissant day.

This is what happened:

First of all, only four people showed up, including Heather. Everyone dropped off like flies at the last minute which is lame to me simply because I knew how excited Heather was about this day (hello, we had like two months notice and four emails about it!!) There was some St Patrick's Day fall-out.

Second, it seemed that the real party happened the day before, when Heather and her friend Malissa spent hours preparing the dough. While they created all kinds of layers of dough, having to chill it for an hour between every step of the process, they got very intoxicated. The day of the real croissant party, the host and her buddy were a little tired and no one was in the mood for a mimosa.

But still, the party was not a complete bust. Together we rolled the dough very flat, cut it into triangles, rolled it up into little croissants and after an hour of rising, baked them in the oven. The apartment not only smelled heavenly, but the croissants tasted pretty damned good. With less people to share, there was more for us to eat. We ate way too much (yeah, I was off the Madness for those few hours in Heather's apartment). We played Wii Fit and watched bad TV and looked at photo albums. It was a perfect way to spend a Sunday, really.

Here's Heather rolling the dough. Nice apron!

Cutting the dough into triangles.

The croissants rising.

The croissants right out of the oven. See all that grease? Yeah, that's BUTTER oozing out. Yum!

The croissants were very moist and buttery but Malissa felt the need for more butter.

Perhaps for Heather's next themed party, we should work together to accomplish #21 Make your own wine. I may have been skeptical about croissants and homemade wine made seems even more suspect, but after today's success, I have faith that Heather can accomplish all of her goals.

Monday, March 9, 2009

March Madness: One week down

March Madness is the best thing I have done for myself lately. Going from February to March felt like I flipped a light switch inside of me. February, I felt depressed and sluggish. And now I feel clear-minded and optimistic.

I have to admit that my motivation really kicked in when Emily said that she would be doing her own version of March Madness in Geneva. I was happy to inspire her and if she's doing it, I really have to keep my game on.

I worked out five days last week. I drank a lot of water. I did my best to eat healthy including making myself a wonderful lentil soup recipe (try it, it's awesome). Despite the fact that someone at work went to Hershey Park and brought bags and bags of chocolate to the office, I did not have any. I worked on my writing about every other day. And in terms of my creative pursuit of the week, I met up with my friend Michele at an East Village cafe with sketch book in hand where we drew pictures and brainstormed creative ideas for my May 2010 wedding.

Same as last year, I already had dreams about sweets. The other night, I dreamed that I ate a lot of cookies and everyone was mad at me that I spoiled the Madness. And then last night I dreamed that I was at a bakery buying about ten slices of cake and then I remembered that I wasn't supposed to be eating them.

I admit that my madness is not as strict or hardcore like last year. For example, I ate really well all week, no sweets or wine, but we invited our friends Adam and Nell for dinner last night and my "two" cheats of the week turned into one glass of wine and four chocolate chip cookies. (It's like my dream came true). Last year I would have just had one cookie. I baked them fresh out of the oven and they were will warm--which is to say that I basically set myself up for failure. But I am okay with it. Today, I just go back to normal madness and try to do the best that I can. I am not going to beat myself up.

I am sleeping better. I am exhausted by 10, which is good because I was having trouble falling asleep before. The extra activity is making me hungry and my food tastes so much better. Vegetables even taste good, which is key for me. I am slow and out of shape, but I feel good moving my body. I am relieved to be writing and happy when I get into the groove.

Hard to believe, but in one week, I am so much happier. For the first time in a long time, I feel like me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spaghetti Cat

I don't laugh much when I watch movies or television. Dan can watch the same Seinfeld episode over and over and still laugh out loud at the same jokes every time. Don't get me wrong. I do find things amusing. But laugh-out-loud funny? Not so much.

Which brings me to Spaghetti Cat, a feline that makes me laugh so hard that I weep. I don't know why. He just does. I have played these Spaghetti Cat videos over and over again and it gets me every time.

Spaghetti Cat was featured on The Soup and was apparently an internet sensation a few months ago, but if you have never heard of him, I encourage you to get to know him right this instant.

First this (the background):

Then this (the song says it all):

Finally this (the masterpiece):

Thanks Brett, this really made my day. I LOVE IT!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March Madness Year 2

"So what have you been up to lately?" Emily asked me when she was here from Geneva.

"Uh, I dunno," I answered, "Watching reruns of The West Wing."

I have not see the girl in months and THAT's the news I had to report about my going-ons.
She is not the person who would judge me for saying that. She probably forgot that I answered in this way. But it made me feel boring.

Friday night, my friend Meagan tells me the blog has been boring lately. I know, I am living it.

Call it depression, call it the winter blahs, but I haven't done much of anything the last few months. While I have intentions to be active and accomplish my goals and be fun, it just seems easier to sleep late, sit in front of the television set and eat cookies.

There's the overwhelming success of last year's March Madness, the idea that in 31 days, I can accomplish greatness by being very disciplined in my eating, exercising, writing and artistic inspiration. I kept it going until July which even surprised me. But I felt so good doing it. People have been asking me if I am going to do it again, and while it seems like a good idea, my excitement can be best summed as "mild." Then again, I don't feel excited about anything lately, so it's no different than anything else.

Today marks March 1 and thus I have decided that the madness must rise again. I cannot say that I have the gusto I felt last year and perhaps this will be a problem. But I do believe in the idea of momentum, that if you move forward in the direction you want to go, even if it is in little ways, eventually your life will carry you there, sometimes in forces beyond control.

So my ultimate goal with this year's madness is more about finding that spark back, and that through living healthily, treating myself well, indulging in my passions, that through momentum, I will start to feel like myself again. It's only 31 days.

The rules are similar as last year. For the month of March I will:

Health-wise, I will
1. Exercise 5-6 times a week
2. Drink 2 liters of water a day
3. Eat healthy. Lots of fruits, vegetables, fish and chicken
4. Avoid white carbs (whole wheat only)
5. No soda
6. No snacking after dinner
7. Aim for at least 8 hours of sleep a night
8. Dessert and/or alcohol only twice a week.

Creative-wise, I will:
1. Write almost daily. Since the Jacksons have been in town, I have been doing a lot more writing. I think seeing Adam's movie and hearing about Brett writing daily habit motivated me--which is good. This will be the hardest goal for me.
2. Take time each week to do something that inspires me creatively--photography, drawing, going to a museum, cooking etc.

Today I reluctantly went on a run. I am so out of shape. But I felt badass because it was flurrying.

Wish me luck!