Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Blue Balls and Frozen Treats

Last Friday I had the most delicious chicken, served in a red sweet spicy sauce I can't remember the name of. Some foodie. Delhi Palace, Indian cuisine. An $8 buffet 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. daily to boot. Chicken. Meat. Preparation seems to be everything. The sauce. Endless samosas washed down with mango lassi were such magical golden linings in the middle of a workday afternoon. Food coma followed by visions of a sleeping bag under my desk ensued. Every now and again visit, you'll enjoy a meal with slightly watery eyes and the sniffles since the seasonings can make their way into the dining room air. Calm down; it adds to the experience.

And remember to pass over the boring peppermints and grab a pinch, just a pinch, of autumn-colored seeds from the glass bowl on your way out. A hint of black licorice will see you to your car.

The teenager in me made me make this piece of swallowable art with the dessert. Gulab Jamun. Or as I like to call them, blue balls. They taste like really sweet, cold pancakes. Like I said, swallowable. What's more shocking is that swallowable is a word.

Speaking of dessert. My dad sent me this photo of my first summer job's establishment in downtown Vancouver, Washington state. A Dairy Queen not owned by Brazier foods and therefore unique in every sense of the word. We kept the ice cream curly 'Q' and opted for bigger burger patties, special recipes, quirked condiments, and retired desserts. Roger. My boss. A sweet and generous man almost to his detriment who took a chance on a 15-year-old employee for three months. After all that training (I mean, it's like Starbucks on steroids learning how to make all those blizzards and sundaes and malts and Mr. Mistys let alone operate the register and navigate the store room)--it seems three years would have been a more fair commitment.

I ate a free burger and fries for lunch either surrounded in smoke at the break counter or out on one of the shaded picnic tables, maybe meeting a friend or the slacker boyfriend who preempted junior year, or took a Peanut Buster Parfait to my big brother working in my dad's orthodontic office down the street. We shared bites surrounded by the freshly painted walls of the dental lab where retainers are made.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bitch Party

There's nothing like participating in a sunbathing, wine tasting, food coma, stupor fest to celebrate an impending wedding.

The happy couple.
It doesn't matter if you've got finals or errands or boards or a workload that makes workaholics cringe, we WILL have fun right now. We will drive for hours. We will spend mucho moolha. We will make memories damn it.

We received pieces of the luxury afforded that of course adds to the feeling of entertainment and relaxation, a mixture that when blended carefully results in a perfectly tasting existence.
Bachelorette parties are a celebration of the female. Glam me, frost me,  laugh with me, drink with me, dance with me, wink at me, get into trouble, find some drama. Fill your stomach with solids, lose it all after a little too much liquids. High heels. Short dresses. Tall blonds. (Not me. Sigh. Yeah. Flats too. Why God? Why?! ) Family. Friends really come through. There were freebies due to the good graces of employee discounts. And it was a schedule packed just enough to get the zipper closed. The sum of the parts resulted in very tired but very satisfied car rides home from a forgotten land. (Snaps for our driver who makes me proud to be a girl driver for once and makes Danica Patrick a little less impressive.)
I had forgotten. I always forget how beautiful northern California is. The Valley. The little towns and bridges between. Marin and Sonoma counties. Mayrin? Maryn? Marinn? Why God? Why?! The air is too comfortable for how bright it is. The greenery and tan carpet hills shouldn't exist together but do. The wine and Adventist college don't mix. It's one of those places you ooo and ahhh over yet secretly despise the citizens, students, and quaint homeowners who traipse around in flip-flops while muching on Guini's.

The green aura of coveting, as well as other auras of aches and sleepiness are fading, but the fullness and happiness are still with me, the sushi, the gnocchi, the giggling 'til we do something we regret. I wonder how they're feeling...

Toldja so. Short and brown. Tall and blond.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Prozaic Moments

I like when people are cheap and creative. That's an area fan substituting as one of those fly fans that shoots a waterfall of air at Niagra pressure as you walk in doors of fine establishments like Cool Cactus.
I like when your coworkers are future Steve Jobses (minus the black turtleneck, plus the definition of contagious enthusiasm, multiplied by Indian charm) and think of good ideas and use good tools to kick ass in business presentations. No death by PowerPoint here.
I like when companies like Dyson don't stop at kick ass vacuums. Yup, that's a restroom hand dryer.
I like when companies decide to make a fortune on something that goes in my belly. Diddy Riese - the most delicious cookies I've ever had; no, the line hype did not sway my opinion then or now.
I like finding a looking glass picture like this one, giving me a view of the past, older brother in mom's tummy with style and an heiress pup to boot.
I like celebrities. And besides concerts and games, I never see fame closer than the nosebleed section. (Oscar-winning and breast-bearing actress Halle Berry with hottie baby daddy in Toontown at Disneyland.) 
(Sorry for the exposure, child.)
I like people who know how to laugh.
And laugh at themselves.
I like moments that work like Prozac. There's plenty of "I hate" moments, so these are what makes those tolerable when you just can't bring yourself to laugh at the hate crime.

This weekend, I also found out I like pancetta. But Cary said bacon is pretty hard to dislike. The moral of the story is at least I know what pancetta is now; when you taste something, it's much easier to remember it the next time you see it on the menu.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Baby #3

Ever wonder why your family is so embarrassing and weird? Gross even? That’s Cary’s and my family alright. Mom-in-law and little bro-in-law swung by the other night to kindly drop off my borrowed pickup truck, and while we’re chatting in the mild evening air in my tiny backyard, my cat poops in the empty flowerpot, and my dog waits only 15 seconds after she’s done to eat the poop. Fan. Tastic. We force ourselves to keep the vomit down as we scream at Butters, running around the dead grass yard (it dies everywhere she pees) with shit hanging out of her mouth, thinking it’s all a tasty game, and while I try and force Dot into remembering her litter box. What the what?!

So some people think maybe their first two screw-up children were just chance, that they should try for the third charm. Yup, that’s me now. It’s also funny how the pet world has transformed me into someone who accepts the coat of white hair my PJs have inherited and the grass and dirt and spilled water bowls that grace our abode’s floors, even a little bit of giving into whining and face licking. Baby steps.

Here’s my justification like any well-intentioned but not necessarily good expecting mother:
  • The breed: Corgi. They’re Welsh. Like me. Only pure and not one millionth.
  • The gender: Male. Because Butters (a girl) fell in love with Cary (a boy) more than me (a girl).
  • The name: Beans. Butter beans… Like from the South… Get it?!!
  • Their legs are short. Like mine. Therefore, I can feel like I’m really taking him for a run instead of a walk while I run with Butters. She’s laughing at me inside that little doggy head, I know it.
  • They like to sit on your feet. They’re feet warmers! If they’re good enough for the Queen’s feet, they’re good enough for mine.
  • Those ears. Those eyes. What’s not to like? Hush, Erin.
The key will be to wait for the perfect fit. Wait for it. Wait for it. And no younger than two years. That puppy image will not dissuade me. Will not. Will not. Is there a corgi rescue somewhat near Pensacola? Absolutely.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


As we near the half New Year ... I'm big on halves. Half-birthdays. Half-anniversaries. Half-and-half. No, I don't really like that one ... I'm contemplating a new adventure, a resolution of sorts. Because I shouldn't not like half-and-half. A rich dairy milk perfect for coffee, some teas, and hot cereals should be a fine substitute for my usual soy. Is soy getting boring? Kind of. Though healthy, and delicious to me, slightly sweet and earthy, options are nice. And sometimes easier. And more polite. It's the stuff Americans are made of. Literally. I think opening my mostly vegan self (I do like me some fro yo or a chili relleno or a swiss omelet--these are so tasty!--now and again) to new food adventures might be wise at this point in time. A vegan lifestyle is super for a slim down or cleansing up for a marathon, but as I embark on new adventures to far-away Navy lands one day--the south one year, Asia or Germany over the next--I think I might like to free up my mind to try things like a balanced diet of squab and squid and the like.

Creatures of the sky and sea might not be the best next go-to on-the-go breakfast ritual, but it might be fun to be a bit of a foodie and start trying new things beyond biking and flossing and restaurants no one I know really likes anyway. Yeah. I like this. A good half-year resolution. This means that it has slightly less weight than a New Year's resolution. Hey, I don't ask for gifts on Earth Day. So if I turn down some shrimp cocktail or a bloody burger, don't berate; sometimes I'm just not gonna have the mood in me to be a chewy vampire. But be ready for some tales about a brave new menu.

Top left slightly confusing image credit

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Did I do something wrong? Did I cut someone off or make a parent feel unloved, or was it because I stepped on that snail? Because I researched online, shopped around, and found road cycling shoes, cleats (the thing that lets you pop your shoe in and out of connection with the bike's pedal), and those special pedals of course (specialty sports usually do call for purchases in triplicate) for a nice deal at a shop that came well recommended and didn't seem to disappoint upon arrival. Bro-in-law's and my road trip through traffic to this cycling store was all fun choices and joking games about our lack of knowledge and a painfully bright yellow windbreaker, leaving us feeling rather fine on our return to the inner valley.

So with tires as pumped as our young egos, we wake up early this morning to take to the road and take our first shot at joining the rank of insane-o cyclists who like to be locked to their mount. This is serious stuff to me. I'm a little nervous. I don't want drivers to hate me as I struggle to push off, turning left at an intersection and clip in, and then the other foot--ouch! I miss and ram my crotch into the seat. Wait, flip the pedal over, got it. Oh my Lord, keep me safe, I am locked in. Ah shit (oops, sorry, God) another intersection. Red. Eff! I slow--focus, focus, focus; wrench your ankle right (oh praise be, that foot is free)--slow, slow, slow; lean right, right, right!. Can't lean left, that foot's still locked in--slow, stop, lean right, you crazy bitch! Foot down. Ahh. Pop out the left foot still clamped in midair. Both feet down. Breath. Green! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

But does this fun get to happen? No. My discount gear provides discounted in quality, and Cody and I spend an hour sprawled out on the pavement struggling with a pedal piece as small as a safety pin in an area as small as a safety pin. This is after I try using these suicidal pieces of equipment regardless of quality and get my left foot stuck in the pedal and then stupidly lean left. It takes me an awful long time to actually meet the asphalt. But it happens inevitably. And my arm now has a silver dollar size scrape that swelled to icky enough proportions. Okay, it's not that bad, but it hurt and hurts, and Cary's not here for me to whine to.

I'm sorry, snail!

Chops to the Redlands Cyclery USA staff though who not only helped me come to terms with my unusable pedals, cleats, and shoes but gave me new gear at a very kind rate. And kudos for treating the walk-in unlike the beginner she so obviously is. Shameless plug, you get. And as I'm hanging out in the bike shop, getting more rookie grease marks on my legs as we try out different gear, talking shop, and I'm happy to be out of a dress from a delicious bridal shower and into shorts with belly room and hair tied back, I see there's more to sports that the actual sport. There's camaraderie and AC and getting things just right.


Some things you can do make your state of mind recession-proof.

Dance around your house to good music for five minutes
Tip bigger not smaller
Order $1 (+shipping) books on Amazon
Order new shoes (free shipping both ways!) on Zappos
Get a Jamba Juice for lunch and read your Amazon book
Play with an animal at the pound
Get Netflix for $5 a month
Eat dinner in with friends
Watch the TV programs you're afraid to tell people you watch
Take walks
Ride bikes
Find a pool and swim in it
Borrow athletic equipment to do expensive sports
Play video games
Clean before you shop
Go get the samples at Costco
Call old friends
Send greeting cards
Join clubs, any kind, hiking, cooking, bird watching
Use; you'll save a bundle
Buy movie tickets in bulk to get them for $6.50 a piece
Organize your closet
Organize your life
Remember, we're all in the same boat

Honeymoon Crasher

A remembrance...

On our honeymoon in Fiji I went for a run on the beach. The weird, deep beach one overcast morning. (Oh, wait, they were all overcast.) I'm trotting along, slightly uncomfortable wearing my swimsuit beneath my running clothes to make for a convenient swim post-sweat.

I jog past a local, admiring her blue wrap-around dress with a bold white design. She's carrying a big basket in front of her. I wonder what's inside.

After a few moments, I realize she's gaining on me--catching up, running too. We race each other for a couple of minutes. I'm laughing inside. She's looking friendly but pretty determined. I push the slight awkwardness away and think how strange and sweet and somewhat out of body this is.

Sand is getting in my sneakers as I try to keep up with this extremely fast Fijian who probably has 15 years and 15 pounds on me. There mustn't be anything in that basket. Musn't.

I start slowing; she was passing me. I slow to a stop. I catch my breath and watch her get smaller, never looking back. I turnaround for my swim on that weird, deep beach with a low, pale tide.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fast and Delirious

That first morning was overcast, a mild breeze coming off the bay as I wandered around the base, lost. Only two hours of sleep with the red eye arrival and then the time change didn't bother me much since I couldn't have slept soundly anyway. Cary directs me over to the gym parking lot, where he waits between drill practice and class at 06:30. I shove the minivan into a parking spot and jump out to waiting arms. I find out later that a leg hug isn't base conduct, but we wander arm in arm (hand holding isn't approved of either) toward the bay and out onto a point that offers a picnic table and more privacy.

*** (yeah, you know it)

His Navy working uniform looks really good, ends up being my favorite oddly. We try and catch up, in person, and then just enjoy the presence, being able to touch another human, a person that knows you so well, a spouse, beyond a quick hi, handshake, or hug after three months of just being, alone. I got used to the quiet. Used to the sounds of Butters and Dot licking and wandering. Used to being welcomed home by only them. Used to leaning on friends and coworkers and family more. Used to letting my social calendar fill up with completely selfish items. But even though the missing fades, there's always going to be a soft, maybe numb for a time, hole for the company of your partner.

And of course it's always nice to go back to hand holding, flirting, making out, and leg hugs.

We say goodbye again, spending most of that first day apart, he doing and taking care of things on base, me joining my parents in town for breakfast and sightseeing. There are docks and art galleries and Newport charm to explore. Though ostentatious dwellings, including the Vanderbilt Breakers mansion, are mere miles away. There are also a few beach cottages and hidden coves and colors to oooh and aaah over.

Our growing party of family meets up at the drill parade (which involved pictures akin to go-for-it tourists posing with the Queen's Guard) followed by the Hi-Moms Reception, where I met briefly Cary's 6'4", solid and southern drill instructor, Gunnery Sergeant Hearst. I'm glad he's on our side, my dad says. I also got to meet the friends and the girls of the friends. Hatchmates, comedians, specimans, the future Navy Seal, the wives and girlfriends who helped get me through a dozen weeks of singledom. The hall is filled with aviators, navigators (yes, I know it's actually naval flight officers, but no one knows what the heck that means, er, I could say Goose, but it makes me sound like a Hollywood-obsessed chick ... Uhhhh), surface warfare, public affairs, sub nuke, specwar, supply. All on the eve of becoming actual officers.

His first night off base, we wake up in the hotel at 0400. He so he can muster and get ready to begin the "day in the life" routine for the guests willing to roll out of bed--me so I can try out the running path along the water. Adrenaline for love, people. I quickly shed the sweatshirt as the weather is decidedly sticking with mild and enjoy pretending the Shiny Toy Guns are serenading the first female Seal. (I was shocked a year ago to realize G.I. Jane was not based on a true story. Giving myself away again.) The ships are black against the lightening sky, and I jog by the Lt. Michael P. Murphy from Seal Team 10 memorial swimming pool. By the time I get back, the 1.5 mile cadence (er, chanting) run is beginning, and I run at a good clip with the other guests at the back of the pack much to Cary's humor. Not fast? Pretty fast. How did you shout out responses too? Easy. Oh, right. Pie.

The candences are pretty creative. Ask Cary sometime about a soldier's job of blood, guts, and danger in terror areas of the Middle East.

Then we watch them do wind sprints in a sand pit by the bay as the sun comes up more. "Zeero!" the DI bellows. "Freeze!" they call. Then on command they drop and do push-ups or sit-ups or leg kicks. Then we watch them count off and file into the chow hall and eat in crazy cool synchronization. Coleman gets yelled at for his tray not being "grounded" (lined up at the edge of the table; everything has to be grounded--spoon against plate, glass against plate, symmetrical, clean, fixed). Everything is crisp. At graduation, I've never seen so many cutting salutes and smooth turns and perfection. There's pleated uniforms and sparkling white everywhere. There's tight, big embraces and watery eyes and big grins. I keep my makeup off his jacket. I pick up some trash. I feel like his new "yessir"s and "yes, ma'am"s and above and beyond civility and chivalry mean I need to start ironing and avoid being a litter bug and be sweet and strong. Above all though, the pride is bursting naturally. For everyone, I think. And that makes me grateful. Really grateful. See what it's like. See he's the same. See? Nothing to worry about.

After pictures and more pictures and more packing, we pick up Cary's dog tags, which eerily state his name, branch, blood type, and that he's a Christian. I wait while he's inside picking them up. A couple walks out of Callahan Hall, arms linked, dress whites and a pretty polka-dot dress that looks like it might spin out if twirling. A new lifestyle started.

The two minivans trek into Boston. We begin our touring with Lexington and MIT for the Lawsons and a roundabout maze of traffic and side streets for the Pritchard/Lawsons. We tour the bay, the U.S.S. Constitution, the monuments, Harvard Square, the Cheers bar. If you ever plan to climb the Bunker Hill monument, practice on a stair stepper for a month first because my calves never recovered. We walk and eat and then eat again. It's hot, and the humidity tumbles into rain by late afternoon. There are Dunkin Donuts on every corner. Weird for Boston. But good for breakfast. Coconut popsicles not so much. Good idea. Bad idea when you include the flakes of coconut. Hello, artificial flavors, people!

We start losing people to flights.

Dane has this fascinating conversation with Cary as we share snacks in the hotel room.

"So when do people have to salute you?"
"When they're lower in rank."
"How can they tell?"
"It's pretty obvious from the crest on your cover."
"That's your hat?" Cary nods.
"What if you're not wearing your hat, cover?"
"You only get saluted when you're wearing your cover ... And you always have to be covered when you're outside."
"In your car?"
"What if you're just entering a building, going inside?"
"I guess."
"What if you're in the process of taking it off? ... What if you've taken it off, but they can see the line on your forehead and know that your cover was just on?"
We're all rolling by now.

And then Cary's Uncle Bradley lectures Cary about using so many acronyms. And we all agree.

On the subway, my mom and I watch a young couple so very and obviously in love. They're young. Maybe 25. She stares up at him from her seat with clear blue eyes and cheeks with freckles. She has pale red waves escaping from her bun. He's skinny and dressed well. He pushes her hair off her face, touches her cheekbone with his thumb. She smiles. They're talking about something, laughing quietly. It feels so good to be in love, doesn't it?