Tuesday, November 28, 2006

In which my forehead gets out of control

Once upon a time, Amanda Latrenta stood before her class, ready to introduce the Proposing a Solution assignment. Amanda pointed to a sizable blemish on her forehead and assertively said, "Problem." She paused, waiting for her meaning to become clear before she asked, with a wry and slightly wicked smile, "Solutions?"

I vividly remembered Amanda today, telling me that story when she was a group leader. Today, I had a gigantic whitehead on my forehead; only it's not there now because this morning I absolutely had to get rid of it. So instead I have a gigantic and almost-uncoverable red mark which will almost certainly scar unless I exercise immediate skin emergency procedures.
This was a zit in the full meaning of the word, and I NEVER get them. I get pimples, certainly, most commonly along my jawline or in the nose area, but this was a full on disaster, like I'm about to sprout a horn and magic and become a unicorn. We are not in the days of the Cosby Show when a girl like Vanessa can just put a headband over it, and it was really too low to rock a low-slung bandana, even. As a girl with quite a lot of forehead anyway, this was absolutely unmitigated neon sign territory. And I had to teach three classes today.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go wash my face; even now I can feel my make-up making plans to create a permanent exhibit up there.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another year older

So, the birthday has come and gone. I received many exciting things and participated in several exciting activities. So, I will sit here on my lunch break and explain a few things to you while I eat my fried chicken and squash casserole.
Some reviews:
Poco Piatti, Levis Commons, a Mediterranean tapas restaurant. I have never been to a tapas restaurant before, but my love of Mediterranean cuisine is well documented, particularly of the Greek and Italian persuasion. Poco Piatti does both of these but throws Lebanese into the mix for good measure. The restaurant is brand new, at least it is a new location, as there is also one in Toledo. Our group on Friday night was quite large, and ordered things throughout the night, and frankly I was impressed with the staff's ability to adapt to the confusion and make sure we all got our dinners.
If you have never been to a tapas restaurant, it works like this: Basically, you order a bunch of appetizer-sized items to eat. I suppose you could just eat what you ordered, but our group sent the items around the table so we got the widest sampling possible. For instance, I had: saganaki kasseri (OOPA!), hommous, Greek salad, half a cabbage roll, several small pieces of thin pizza (one of which was hazelnut, potato, and pesto pizza--almost obscenely delicious), pumpkin gnocchi, calamari, chicken wraps, goat cheese agnolotti, artichoke hearts, and Lord knows what else, and turned down servings of several other dishes that didn't seem to quite go with what I was eating. The menu items are numerous, naturally, and this location also has a few full-sized dinners if you prefer. Best of both worlds, what?
I had to laugh because this young little couple were sitting at a nearby table and they kept looking at ours with wide eyes, possibly wondering how nine people could put away so much dinner. And we really did. There were some leftovers boxes, but we did a lot of damage. As a party, it was wildly successful. But you could also go there with just two people and get your own things or share a few and come in fairly cheaply. In fact, my friend Michelle and I did something similar at Biaggi's for lunch once. We just shared, and were both super full. The nature of our ordering system was also fun...we ordered some things, decided we'd also like to try others, and by the end of the meal were hoping that we hadn't ordered anything else. What a great way to get full.
This was all followed by some delicious German chocolate cake made by Carrie, which was sweet enough but not too sweet, perfectly ending the evening's gourmet adventures.

Now, about Pop 5.
I've never played Cranium before, and I usually say no to Trivial Pursuit. In fact, I'm really not an adventurous game player--always refused to play Pin the Tail on the whatever at birthday parties, preferring to watch or roam around for a few minutes to myself. I'm too competitive, and the stress always gets to me to perform perfectly; I have what could be called a winner's complex. But I let my energies be seduced by my friends (who were kind enough to see through my laziness and maneuver me into playing Pop 5).
It's a version of Cranium in which it's not the word or phrase, it's the manner of its delivery. You have five choices, naturally, including drawing, sculpting, humming, acting out, or tossing letter cubes and coming up with words to guide your team. You have a certain amount of time (before the pop light goes out) to make your team say whatever is on your card.
We played boys vs. girls, which was 3 vs. 4, though I can point out here that one extra person really does not make much difference at that point. We played five rounds, and the girls ultimately came out with the best 3 of 5. Of my great and tragic moments, consider the following:
1. My utter failure to get across Genie in the Bottle through sculpture. I sculpted a bottle with smoke, but the bottle was of poor design. My failure was offset, however, by Paul's equally unfortunate (though well sculpted) Charlie's Angels clue.
2. My massive success in sculpting Hill Street Blues. Maggie proved instrumental to this, helping me earn the respect of my fellow players in the sculpting department.
3. If you heard the words "packet" and "decade" what would you guess? If it was Pop Rocks, in the food and drinks category, you'd be right. Well done, ladies. The gents were particularly confused by our telepathic ability here.
4. How in the name of all that is right in the world do you get across "Please don't squeeze the Charmin?" Even if you could successfully get across toilet paper, or even Charmin, and then squeeze, I can guarantee that no one in my group would have gotten the whole thing. This was perhaps offset by Jane Fonda Workout for the boys.
5. My personal favorite, because it represented a judgment error by the men (the opposing team has to rank the different ways to present clues according to points value), who ranked humming to be worth top number of points for "Star Trek." That was a total gimme for me. Carrie, my fellow sci-fi fan, got that one immediately.
This game strikes me as very instinctive and crafty. I truly enjoyed it, almost as much as I enjoyed rocking the boys' faces off. Girls Rule!
Other particularly satisfying moments were Maggie doing Flashdance, Carrie sculpting Dallas, and Melissa's enthusiastic portrayal of Just Do It. On the boys' side, Paul telepathically guessing leg warmers, Steve's portrayal of Ozzy Osborne, and Nathan's outstanding skill with letters at all times were most impressive.
A good time was had by all, and I was exhausted when we finally finished. This is a game I would most definitely play again.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Wednesday smash-up

Music that has been in my head in the last two days:
"Smack my b***h up..." (just that line)
The African Queen theme music.
Why those two things? I really can't say.

I feel sad today, which is a real bummer considering tomorrow is my birthday. My hope is that my birthday outfit will force me to at least behave in a happy-go-lucky and possibly frivolous manner. I kind of need to be "on" tomorrow in order to enjoy the aging process.

Speaking of which, I can't remember if I mentioned this, but a few weeks ago I actually made someone examine my head to see if I had any grey hairs. The funny thing is I wouldn't care if I did have grey hairs, though I might kick a fuss about it openly, but I at least want to know if they're there. I don't want them to sneak up on me. He said I didn't, but I'm still suspicious. It's awfully difficult to tell, you know, with the blond. Which reminds me, I need to re-dye my streak roots. Maybe that's tonight's project post-presentation.

Presentation? Yeah, forgot to mention that. I'm going and doing a panel or solo presentation at Owens in Toledo tonight, on my dance-poetry thing. I have five pieces, three of which are old and resurrected, one of which is newly choreographed, and one of which I'm going to improv while someone reads it. Should be good times. The only things that ever make me nervous about such things is a: actually remembering the words, and b: being able to speak the poems loudly enough, and with enough breath. Oh, and c: getting hip or back cramps in the middle, as at Christmas Eve services, when I had an enormous knot form in my hip whilst I was dancing. On with the show though, right?

Doesn't it seem weird that I haven't done any television reports lately? I guess I haven't had that much to say lately. There's no Project Runway, and Top Chef just made me irritated last week. "Scandalicious"? I have to say, though, that I enjoy Gail Simmons and I wish she were the host. At least the host wasn't wearing hot pants this week. How obvious can you get? Oh, and Camp Glucose? I don't approve of that name.
Heck, I haven't even watched Supernatural from last week yet.
Let's talk for a sec about Gilmore Girls. A lot of people have complained about the slip in writing since the creator left, and while I can see what they're getting at, my concern is much more plot-related. GG seems to be falling into the set-up trap...where weak plot segments are supposedly meant to sneak by because they build up to an interesting plot component. Certainly, a Christopher-Luke showdown might be interesting, as might Lorelai backing out of this flybynight "marriage." But to be honest, I am not enjoying watching Chris and Lorelai, nor am I enjoying watching Luke be "reborn" as a considerate man. It all rings false and kind of dull. With this show in particular, I am not okay with it being weak for a few weeks because it's going to be awesome eventually. GG doesn't work that way. Even when things go amiss or build up, the show needs to be charming and captivating, and right now it's just uncomfortable, and not in that "oooh, uncomfortable and tense" way, but in that "oh. uncomfortable. look away" kind of way. It has its bright moments, as in Michel insisting on being called Captain (hilarious), but it's stopped being truly quotable, as evidenced by my now too-quiet cell phone not receiving text messages from Steve for half an hour.
Rock my socks off, Gilmore Girls! I command it!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Winter Wheat = Existential Questions

Hi, kids.
So, it's Winter Wheat time, and I've already been to sessions. Isn't that great? Total number of sessions I went to last year whilst in charge? 0. I'll admit, I've been to some that didn't really speak to me, just because they weren't a good fit for my current writing life, but I've also been to some that really helped my mind in some way. Actually, I've walked away with at least a little something from every workshop.
Tonight is a reading by Dan Chaon and David Baker, which will be fun. Currently, I should be doing a bit of work, but naturally I'm not. I'll do a bit in a few minutes; drafts and whatnot. My head feels sort of hot, though, like it's drunk in too much noise and thought. It's better than last night's feeling, which was utterly exhausted. I couldn't even meet friends at a restaurant, not for dinner or for afters. Just too bloody tired. In fact, I almost passed out from lack of sleep and lack of food.
Today, I wonder, why am I a writer? What has made me choose this as the core of my career? Well I remember the time when I was meant to decide direction, in the later portion of college as I prepared to grad school. Why writing, and not dance? Why not something else like Lit, or even science? I am at that point in my writing life when I've been out of grad school for a few years, and I'm wondering what I'm fit for, and how many stories I will be able to tell, how many experiences to convey. I somehow need to know why I've made this choice in order to continue it. Do I deserve to be a writer? Is that what I'm supposed to be? My 28th birthday is less than a week away. Has that 28-year-old, white, single, female entity with brown hair and blue eyes made the right decision?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy Due Date to ME

So, I was supposed to be born 28 years ago today. Instead, I made my mother and my doctors wait. I always celebrate a little today anyway, since it represents such a great countdown.
This week is going to be nuts. I'm getting drafts on Tuesday and Winter Wheat starts on Thursday and lasts through Sunday, and somehow all of this has to get finished. Here's the plan: Set the VCR for anything and everything I could possibly wish to watch this week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, plow through a class per day if humanly possible. If I get done with a class and have an hour or two free, I will watch a show or two to relax. Thursday through Sunday I will apply myself to the third class as best I can, an hour here an hour there. I plan to be done by Sunday evening so I can then plow through any remaining TV I might have.
The moral of the story is, don't talk to me about TV this week. I'm working!

Last night, I had a solo dance party with some Lambic and a full moon. Tonight, Monday, is the last free night I'll have for a week. If you need me I'll either be in the tub or in my pajamas under a blanket.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Cookie Jar

All right. I have a few things to say today.
First, a bit of word-of-mouth advertising.
I was walking home last night and passed a little place on Court St called the Cookie Jar (basically across the street from Spots). I'd seen it before, and I'd also seen other businesses in and out of there before, and for some reason I thought, you know, I could just do with a great cookie right now. So I went in. As I quickly found out, it isn't a bakery where you just go in and pick out what you want or buy one cookie from a selection on a tray. You actually order cookies in sets of 6, 8, 12, and 13 or something like that (or trays of more cookies) and then in 20 minutes or so they are hot and ready for pick up or free BG delivery. Every day they have chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal cinnamon raisin chip. Then, they have a special cookie, and there's a calendar of what they'll have.
I ordered an 8-set with two of each kind of cookie (10 dollars) and went home for my 20 minutes, then headed back. I received a box and some napkins and took them home, changed into pajamas, and then pulled the box into my lap and opened it. Inside were 8 large, fresh, and hot cookies, two of which (the peanut butter jelly variety) were in muffin cups with some vanilla frosting to drizzle on top.
What can I say? I ate an oatmeal raisin and a PBJ cookie on the spot. They were soft and rich and pretty big. Realistically, one cookie would have been enough, and therefore in my opinion worth the price. They were delicious.
Now, it is 11 o'clock on a Thursday morning, and I am enjoying my second PBJ cookie, warmed for 15 seconds in the microwave, and it is equally delicious. I asked the gal in the shop how business was, and she said it was picking up through word of mouth since they haven't done much advertising yet. So here's my contribution. Great cookies, perfect for events like showers and small parties, even big parties if you cut the cookies up. The Cookie Jar. Court St. November 17? Pumpkin pie cookies. I'm all over that.

So, advertising aside, I am now through my antibiotics cycle, and I do feel better, though I do not in fact feel healthy yet. I was sleepy in a big way yesterday and the day before, and to be honest I still feel sleepy. I really can't wait to be done teaching and conferencing so I can go home and take an actual nap (nap was once again missed yesterday). I am owed a bath since I haven't taken my weekly bath yet this week, so maybe that will be on my post-Supernatural agenda for the evening.

Speaking of TV, did anyone watch Ghosthunters Live on Halloween? I did, or at least I started to. I had to teach on Wednesday, so I couldn't stay up for all of it, but even so as I watched the first two hours I kept falling asleep due to illness and Triaminic, and finally gave up and set the recorder for the last hour. The fellas were out at the Stanley Hotel, inspiration for The Shining. I did see several interesting personal experiences in what I did catch, and I gather next week is the reveal for the investigation. It was a very great idea and I wished it had been a weekend so I could watch the whole thing as it was going on. I don't think they caught any apparitions or anything, but it still was fun to watch.
I have something to say to ye of my friends who are Lost fans: Quit knocking the polar bear. So many of you are so caught up in the conspiracies and the characters, and you forget that the original premise was spooky island with mysterious black object and creatures. That is what attracted me in the first place, and every time we look get a look at either of these entities, I am all on board with it.
And now a few words about Top Chef; first, isn't it funny how they replaced one limp, glassy-eyed host with another limp, glassy-eyed host? They selected someone who would traipse about wearing short shorts (inappropriate much?) but she still has the same bored tone and languid diction. She doesn't sound excited to be doing what she's doing. The female judge has far more vigor and spice, and I wish she could be the host.
On the positive side, don't you love Betty? She's just the sweetest thing. When I say that, I don't mean she can't take care of herself, but you can tell she genuinely loves cooking, loves people, loves to sell food, and doesn't care what kind of food she's making. I'd hire her to be my personal chef because I think she'd always be positive about the food she was making and she'd be nice to me. I hope my Betty bubble never bursts.
And don't you always feel apprehensive about those "regular folks" food challenges? You know about half the chefs are doing to say something dumb or insulting about their customers. I hated especially hearing at least two of them say something to the effect of, I came here to make fine cuisine. Uh, have you watched ANY of the previous season? Did you not learn the lessons they learned and therefore know what might be coming? Last season they went to a gas station, for pete's sake. Get into it! Do your job.
I will be watching Sam and Ilan with interest. Next week sounds scandalous, which I hate...I want to see them live or die by the knife, and not by their stupid cheating. Reality TV lives for scandal like this, but in shows like Top Chef, it really takes away from the point of the experiences. You don't want to have a bad taste in your mouth with a cooking show.

I guess that's it for now. My brain still isn't quite all together.