I'm prettier than you are.
Wednesday, 31 December 2003
The Year in Review

Oh come on.

You didn't really think I was going to drone on about the various ways I have grown as a person in 2003, did you? Or list my hopes, dreams, aspirations, and goals for 2004? Or supply a bulleted outline of what I consider the "Best Of 2003" in the news, my life, or the so-called "blogiverse" or "blogosphere"?

Did you?

Like I really have time for that when I'm busy getting ready to dash off to Times Square to get a good spot by the big ball!

fresh-baked at 01:09 PM
Tuesday, 30 December 2003
Eve Eve

It is the penultimate day of the year. And here you are, online, reading this and thinking I have misused the word "penultimate". And here I am, online, writing it and thinking of you thinking that, and mocking you for your error. I am also mocking your choice of activity and outfit for tomorrow night, because I know (and so do you) that no matter what you do or what you wear, nothing will live up to your expectations. It never does, really, does it. Admit it.

So go out tonight instead. Get out of your pilly, stretched-out yoga pants and oversized T-shirt, and put on something that makes you feel pretty and thin and head-turning. Do up your hair all nice-like. With the tendrils that frame your face so softly. Spray some sweet-smelling parfum into the air in front of you and walk underneath it like it's a sprinkler and it's the summer and there's no school tomorrow. (This goes for the boys too.)

Only conformists, wannabes, and potential "statistics" celebrate tomorrow night! But you? You're not like anyone else. You're your own person, and ain't no one gonna tell you what to do!

So go on. Get outta here. What are you waiting for?

fresh-baked at 09:23 PM
Monday, 29 December 2003
Two Little Things

You probably took a four-day weekend, didn't you, you holiday-lovin' cuckoos. Didn't you! That's nice. You deserve it. And now that you're back in the saddle or the swing, or whatever you sit on to do your job, you don't want to rush into whatever's waiting for you on your desk or whatever surface contains the detritus of your appointed tasks. You just want to ease into the week and daydream about this coming Wednesday night's prix fixe dinner-and-dancing combo package. You don't want to have to think too much, and I can't say I blame you. Thinking leaves indelible stains on your mind carpet anyway.

So because I have your best interests at heart (as usual), I will not burden you with philosophical conundrums that will tax your intellect. I will just supply you with two teensy tiny wee little items, so you can fill your uncluttered mind with happy thoughts of sequins, champagne, and that special lucky someone you hope to smooch when the big ball drops.

Here are your two items, randomly selected from the grab bag of my poisoned brain:

  1. Never tell me "a little birdie" told you something. If you do, I will say "bye bye" before you can tell me what that something is.

  2. No one is ever young enough to call the bathroom the "little boys" or "little girls" room.

Now go back to the J. Crew mail order catalogue you have hidden beneath your spreadsheets and try to convince yourself that monograms aren't revolting. And enjoy the three Christmas cookies you smuggled from the conference room to your desk in the big file you've been carrying through the halls to look like you're already busy busy busy on the job on this, your first day back from your four-day whirlwind holiday weekend!

Oh, and by the way ... I love your new sweater!

fresh-baked at 08:20 AM
Saturday, 27 December 2003
Good Clean Fun

Call me crazy, sir, but if you're at CVS buying a duo-pack of Fleet enemas and six rolls of paper towel, I'm going to be forced to think you are truly full of shit.

At least until you get home.

Have a nice afternoon!

fresh-baked at 03:21 PM
Friday, 26 December 2003
Hanukkah has passed over!

Tonight was the last night of Hanukkah. Here is evidence of my newfound dedication to the tradition:

A surprise bonus candle found its way into the box of 45:

Although it carped about being relegated to a makeshift mini-menorah and mumbled something about being banished to the "kiddie table", I know it was secretly thrilled to be included at all, given that my interest and enthusiasm in the undertaking waned more than waxed during the eight days of the holiday. Indeed, on several occasions, I vowed (a/k/a cursed) that the new tradition would not be continued next year due to my inability to deal with wax and fire, and the candle really didn't want to suffer the humiliation of finding itself poked into either a birthday cake or ... elsewhere.

Thankfully there is no audio evidence to accompany the visuals. Not because my Hebrew prayers weren't perfectly intelligible, but because my English curses were.

fresh-baked at 11:38 PM
Thursday, 25 December 2003

It's Christmas, and you've stuffed yourselves beyond silly with vomitous eggnog and cookies dusted with powdered sugar that will probably imbed itself into the weave of the elastic-waistband slacks you wore because you have more class than the other side of the family, those bums, who think it's cute to unbutton their pants and ease the zipper halfway down.

All the gifts you gave are already returned or exchanged in the recipients' minds. All the gifts you received are an amorphous mass that you plan to revert back into paper money if the stores' policies allow it. You're sick of it all, really, and you have no more room for anything. And if you see any more food, you're going to burst.

So with that in mind, I offer you a hearty sampling of my recent lunches. Consider this my gift (unreturnable) to you!

Village Natural, Millet Croquettes
14 December 2003

If this dish were a girl, it'd be named Beatrice Crankshaw and be overlooked for entry into all the cool chick cliques. But that wouldn't be fair. Because really, the name is not the thing, and just like Beatrice would reveal herself to be a quite marvelous and saucy girl if only one could look beyond her name, the millet croquettes reveal themselves to be oh so much more than one would expect.

Candle Cafe, Walnut Crusted Seitan Cutlets
19 December 2003

I thought it would be charmingly poetic to have a Candle bite on the first night of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights! It's a good thing the food was so incredible. Otherwise, I would have had no choice but to hate myself with the same intensity I reserve for most poetry. And accidentally disfigure myself with candle wax upon the lighting of the first candle.


Village Mingala, Peah Thee Thoke and Lot Thoke
20 December 2003

To celebrate the second day of Hanukkah, we indulged in a few Burmese delights at Village Mingala. For that extra pious touch, we sat at our favorite table — the one presided over by the obviously well-fed and sun-loving Buddha.

Village Natural, Baked Soy Protein Patties with Mushroom Wine Sauce, Steamed Veggie and Soba Noodle
21 December 2003

This is the first dish I ever had at Village Natural (recall the beautiful experience here). Despite its somewhat misleading name/description — indeed, there was only one patty and more than one noodle — I was still able to enjoy my lunch.

All of these lunches were lovely, of course, but all of the restaurants were "tried and true", so I expected nothing less than loveliness. However, I took a huge risk last Wednesday, December 17, by venturing to a decidedly more elegant and uptown Indian spot instead of easing into one of the easier East Village or Lexington Avenue locations that I've documented during my ongoing project, PaneerQuest2003 (ongoing in 2004!).

My adventure (and the DOG) took me to Dawat, where I savored the following:

Aloo Tikkyas, Paneer Kulcha, Baked Eggplant and Saag Paneer

Do not go to this white tablecloth restaurant if you like being treated like oilcloth scum. Do not go if you like to unceremoniously plop your own food on your plate using a teaspoon and your thumb. Do not go if you expect sterno-heated all-you-can-gorge gluttony.

For that, you can just stay at home. Or visit the other side of the family.

Merry happy whatever, beasts!

fresh-baked at 07:58 PM
Tuesday, 23 December 2003
De Lights

Look, it's that big tree you hear so much about:


Remember I showed it to you 5-1/2 weeks ago, back before it was dressed to the nines? What a difference some shine 'n' sparkle makes, right? Like seeing your mom all dolled up for a night on the town!

Oh, and of course my beloved clock tower is all gussied up too:

But of course you know she dresses for every occasion. She's no slouch!

fresh-baked at 08:03 PM
I've Got a Secret!

And I'm willing to divulge it here, in this very private forum known as the worldwide web!

Come closer to your monitor and cup your hands around these words, 'cause I don't want anyone who isn't YOU to be privy to this very top secret, never before divulged information!

The secret is this: "Secret Santa" sucks!

"But ... but ... Jodi," you're saying with a smirk and, if you're capable, an eyebrow raise, "that's no secret! Everyone knows that!"

Well, yes.

And no.

Yes, in that so many people say to themselves in private that it sucks, and sometimes over frozen yogurt lunches whisper conspiratorially to that one special office pal that it sucks, and many scream it in private in written form in special pastel-paged diaries with tiny, largely decorative locks. If polled anonymously with no fear of backlash or reprisal, an overwhelming majority of people would admit that they "fucking hate" the whole concept of Secret Santa and resent it with a passion ordinarily reserved for the private hatred of small children and store-bought tiramisu.

No, in that no one has the guts or balls or gumption or gall to say it aloud and proud(ly). No one has what it takes to raise his or her hand during the staff meeting and say, without a hint of voice quaver, "Secret Santa sucks. And not only that, it blows. Oh, and I hate it. It's an obligation, and I don't want to get stuck buying some nonsensical oversized mug for one of the people I hate in this office, who would happen to be just about any of you, including the one person I whispered conspiratorially to earlier today over frozen yogurt about how much I hate Secret Santa. Also, I plan to give the oversized mug my Secret Santa gets me, to Toys for Poor Kids, and really, that'll suck even harder because everyone knows kids don't like coffee. Even poor kids."

So what are you waiting for? Take the $15 you've reserved for your Secret Santa gift — because you know you haven't bought the stupid thing yet and are waiting for whatever it is to go on sale at the Hallmark store tomorrow morning — and waste it on something more honest and satisfying, like a few frozen yogurts you can eat in peace, by yourself.

Which, really, is all anyone wants anyway. And that, my friends, is no secret.

fresh-baked at 10:09 AM
Monday, 22 December 2003
Giving Shoes the Boot!

I get a kick out of a computer-generated paper sign taped to the front of the Pilates reception desk that asks all who enter to remove their "foot attire" upon entering the studio. In one corner of the sign is a clip-art depiction of a pair of boots and in another corner is one of a pair of shoes. Just in case there is any question as to what constitutes "foot attire".

I wondered aloud to the receptionist as to why the sign couldn't just urge visitors to remove their shoes. Was it because, I posited, that would leave room for surly, semantically correct boot-wearers to point to their feet and say, "But, look, I'm wearing ... boots" and indignantly refuse to remove them?

As it turns out, yes. But it wasn't boots that forced the "foot attire" wording. It was something a little more creative. This is Pilates, after all, which draws a less than conventional crowd. A crowd that fancies itself a step ahead of other crowds. And far more wacky and given to bouts of ebullient whimsy.

As it turns out, quite a few people marched in on snowshoes during the snowstorm a couple of weeks ago and tracked in quite an icy mess that was met with a rather chilly reception. When told to remove their shoes, these frosty folks started to say, "But these aren't ..." and then realized that yes, snowshoes count as shoes. It was then that the masterminds behind the Pilates signage committee knew they had to put up a sign requesting the removal of shoes.

I suppose they should have been prepared for the bohemian caprice of their clientèle. For instance, one particularly clever client sloshed into the studio with two warmed-up Swanson's Hungry Man TV dinners (veal parmigiana!) strapped to her bare feet, claiming it helped her find her "center". Another clomped in atop Romper Stompers, the upside-down yellow cups with green plastic tubing popularized on "Romper Room". Another tottered in with one of her feet Crazy-Glued to a girder and the other to a balance beam. And yet another dragged in two booze-addled, filth-encrusted vagrants who latched onto her feet as she climbed the subway steps and still refused to release them even as she scraped their bloodied heads against an old-fashioned boot-scrape somewhere on 18th Street.

So I suppose it was, after all, necessary for the Pilates people to create a blanket term to cover all tracks, rather than just a simple "Shoo, Shoes!"

I'm just relieved to know they weren't being pretentious!

fresh-baked at 10:24 AM
Saturday, 20 December 2003
Woof? Welcome!

New York stores know who their best customers are, and welcome them with open arms:

This is Rose, a five-year-old Vizsla I met last Sunday while browsing through racks of underpinnings at Daffy's. Note how the light of Christmas spirit shines through her beautiful colorful eyes! (Click on the image for best effect.)

Although I only wound up with gloves, Rose got carried away with feminine frippery!

Note:  This photo of Rose, and many others of dogs, can be found in the Dogabout gallery.

fresh-baked at 05:30 PM
Friday, 19 December 2003
Lights of My Life


When my grandfather, Isaac ("Poppop"), died in 1993, three years after my grandmother, Clara ("Bubby"), my mother gave me their menorah, which I'd loved and coveted (just look at those little double doors that actually open!) for as long as I can remember. Since then, it has always enjoyed a prominent display place in my home. Somewhere it would see me every day so it could wink at me like Poppop would. Just so I'd know it was there. It never asked me to use it or to even dust it, but just to let it sit there, where it could watch over me.

It has done so for ten years, and I've decided that this year is the one that will start my tradition of lighting its candles for this holiday. I'm not religious at all, but it is not for religious purposes that I want to uphold this tradition. Today I will light it in honor of Bubby's and Poppop's lives (Bubby was actually born on the first day of Hanukkah) and the memories of them that are burned forever inside me.

This morning when I took the menorah from the shelf, and blew dust from inside each of its candle holders, I noticed that each houses a tiny candle stub topped by a tiny wick, and a bit of dripped wax still clings to the rightmost holder. I don't know the last time Bubby and Poppop used the menorah, but this evidence of their last use touched me in ways I don't even want to begin describe.

Tonight when I light the candles, Bubby and Poppop will be next to me, watching over me, making sure I don't burn myself as I fumble to light the candles in their honor.

Happy Hanukkah, or Chanukkah (or Chinook or Hammacher-Schlemmer)!

fresh-baked at 12:16 PM
Thursday, 18 December 2003

People are oh so touchy touchy about the subject of weight. They get all up in flabby arms about it, and many flap their gums about such succulent topics as Renee Zelwegger's gain. (In case you're wondering, I prefer her thinny thin thin, as she appeared in Chicago. I am tempted now to make the same sort of remark that Elizabeth Hurley made about Marilyn Monroe, but I will keep quiet. And if you don't know what that remark was, I'm sure you can find it somewhere. Go on. Looking things up on Google burns calories!)

And just as people are touchy about weight, a recent study shows that the mere touching of food causes a person to gain it. Yes, it is true. All you gals out there who are using mayonnaise on your hair to make it shiny and tasty, and who have noticed a strange correlation in an increase in avoirdupois, take note: the mayonnaise molecules actually enter the bloodstream through your scalp, and are thus digested as if they entered your body via the normal channels.

Research also shows that the mere handling of food with actual hands has the same effect. And those really creative and original types among you who enjoy whipped cream and strawberries and chocolate sauce in the bedroom should be advised that those calories are absorbed as well. Just because it's only smeared or drizzled onto your body parts as a way to gain sexual pleasure doesn't mean those parts, among others, won't gain in other more significant and permanent ways.

Again, if you don't believe me, I urge you to do a calorie-burning, aerobic Google search.

Enjoy your lunch.

fresh-baked at 11:52 AM
Wednesday, 17 December 2003
Maybe, Baby

When I tell you that instead of posting a sign offering two cats to a good home you should post a sign offering the baby who is the reason why the cats have to go ... please do not look at me like I suggested you offer the baby as the plat du jour on a blackboard menu. Do not gasp and be left speechless. I may have been kidding.

fresh-baked at 06:26 PM
Tuesday, 16 December 2003
Gut Reaction

Amazing, the things you find when you gut yourself with a whaling knife. All those little things you thought you misplaced or that the guy doing construction on your kitchen cabinets stole when you left the house for five minutes to go down to the corner store to get a cup of coffee (and one for him, too, the no-good lout!) or that your cat, Bootsie (yes, I see his one paw is white and the rest are black! oh yes!), hid or ate ... well, they haven't been misplaced or stolen or hidden or eaten. They voluntarily found their way into your intestines (large and small), where they planned to nest comfortably for the rest of your life. And you would never know about them because even if they did occasionally interfere with your ordinary bodily functions — it's not their fault, they just can't help themselves! — you would never suspect that the thing giving you such hideous spiraling pain was that little notebook where you keep all your super-secret ideas, thoughts, and dreams or your favorite pen (the one with the really flowy ink, the one you almost lost a friendship over because you blamed that liar for taking it after he admired it when you let him use it to sign for that package that time).

So you can imagine my combined delight and horror when I discovered that yesterday's excruciating visceral pain was caused by the oddest array of objects. Excavation and identification of these items is a slow and somewhat painful process, but here is a list of what I've managed to catalog thus far:

  • A time capsule from the year 1944 with a note beseeching its finder not to open it until 2004. This made me feel like one of those wooden Russian dolls that contains within itself a smaller wooden Russian doll within which is a still smaller one, until finally the doll is so small that it is just two wooden Russian atoms wondering what's going on.

  • Saturday, 17 November 1984, from 5:18 p.m. until 11:22 p.m.

  • Bonne Belle Lip Smacker in maple-walnut flavor

  • Two (2) avocado pits, just starting to sprout

  • One (1) wooden round "tuit"

  • My maternal grandparents (what a coup!)

  • Eight-track tape of Queen's "Jazz" (a bit garbled on the "Fat Bottomed Girls" track)

  • A Wacky Packages punch-out card for Skimpy Peanut Butter

  • Monopoly playing piece (thimble)

  • Baby tooth (incisor) in tiny plastic treasure chest

Of course, I am extremely relieved to learn that the cause of my upheaval wasn't the flu. I hear those shots are painful!

fresh-baked at 10:27 AM
Monday, 15 December 2003
Oh so sorry

Due to a mysterious and intermittent visceral upheaval that, from time to time today, has had me quadrupled over in what could only be called "excruciating, soul-wrenching pain that makes me want to stab myself in the abdomen with a knife, preferably expensive and serrated and without breadcrumbs attached to it", there will be no fun-filled, wit-wielding entry today. I am taking advantage of a lapse in the pain to put myself to bed, so if the pain returns, it will do so while I am asleep, where it will thus manifest itself as a sheet-twisting, blanket-kicking nightmare involving toothlessness and Kelly Ripa, although not concomitant.

fresh-baked at 09:41 PM
Sunday, 14 December 2003
Sans-Pants Claus


(White hair and full beard included, but not shown from this angle.)

fresh-baked at 10:20 AM
Saturday, 13 December 2003
Pranzo Perfetto

The DOG and I had a lovely late lunch yesterday at Teodora, which has the good graces not to close at 3:00 to prepare for its dinner seatings. There was not much on the menu that would accommodate my dietary limitations. But since those limitations are all self-imposed, I was willing to lift the limitations to accommodate my desire not to be the sort of person I hate. And just when I was going to choose something that contained grated cheese, I noticed the menu offered two items that not only fit within my restrictions but which actually were things I liked:

Potato Leek Soup
(made with vegetable broth!)
I forget its much more elegant Italian name

Piadina Romagnola, with Broccoli Rape
Traditional flat bread, from the griddle

The piadina was offered with a choice of three accompaniments, and when I ordered the "broccoli rape", I couldn't say "rape" without feeling ... wrong. So I said "broccoli non-consentual sexual assault". Fortunately the waiter was sensitive and did not question me.

When the dish arrived, the broccoli tried to look bold, but I could sense its unease. "You're not to blame for what happened," I said. "It wasn't your fault." It wiped its eyes. Sniffled back tears. Smiled a shy yet brave smile, and told me I saved its life. "Grazie," it whispered. "Mille grazie."

And then I ate it.

fresh-baked at 08:59 PM
Friday, 12 December 2003
Two Years

I should have flowers and candy. I should have silk roses and a Whitman's Sampler. Or white tulips and Teuscher. Something. I should have ... something.

Why should I have something, other than because, well, I deserve it just because? Because today, friends and foes and faceless freaks, is the second birthday of this world-famous website. And that, of course, makes it 380 years old in internet years.

So really, it's decrepit and moldy and wizened and looks like a shrunken apple head with unevenly painted wooden derelict eyes and teeth made of Indian corn. And just like a shrunken apple head, it will come alive after dark and attack you in your sleep, giggling in echoes.

But pretend you don't notice. Just make believe it's soft and chubby and pink-cheeked, full of life and love. And wish it a happy birthday and many, many more!

fresh-baked at 10:12 PM
Thursday, 11 December 2003
Lucky Dog

Read this story* about a dog and get back here. Watch the video clip. I'll wait. Go read it, if you can stand a sad story that has a happy ending. If you can't take it, I understand, because, really, any story that even mentions animal abuse or misuse makes me see more shades of red than Chanel offers in lipstick. I didn't want to read the article, but I figured, What the hell, I'm already sad about Aramis, so why not compound the sadnesses. Sort of like those days when you compound gluttony after eating more home-baked chocolate chip cookies than you have fingers, so you may as well just get it over with and order a pizza and fries and, you know what, a few eggrolls wouldn't be so bad either. And then some more cookies.

So I read the story, and it prompted me to run out to the living room and hug my big beautiful dog and remember his sad story. (It has a happy ending, obviously. He gets to live with me! And believe me, that's almost too much happiness for anyone to bear.) But it also brought to mind the staggering quest to find an apartment in New York that would allow pets. Because, you see, while finding a decent apartment is difficult in this city, finding one that allows pets — especially one that comes in the form of a huge dog — is enough to make you take to the drink and chase your own tail into panting oblivion.

But you do what you must. Your dog (or cat or giraffe or human baby) is part of your life. Once you have the supreme fortune of letting one in, he is yours until one of you outlives the other. Or until you enter a murder-suicide pact. That's just the way it is. No excuses. And if for some reason you must find another place to live, you must find a place that will accept your animal friend. If a prospective new residence doesn't allow animals, don't allow yourself to live there. It's that simple. I have no tolerance for anyone who says he "couldn't" take his dog to his new place. People like that are no better than the ones who don't allow the animals.

Other people say their animals have become too much "trouble". Let me tell you something. When the DOG first brought Taxi home to his apartment in Philadelphia, Taxi was having what I'll gently call abandonment issues. Taxi expressed himself in a rather creative variety of ways, many of which involved his teeth, claws, and woodwork. One of his most impressive projects was a detailed effigy of me, whittled into the front door.

However, his most brilliant accomplishment was when he devoured a newly purchased mint condition antique mahogany settee with exquisite mother-of-pearl inlay.

The DOG called me at my apartment the night of the event. "He ... ate ... the ... settee," he said, his voice barely perceptible.

"What!" I said. "What! No! What are you going to do?" I also said some other words imbued with considerably more punch.

"What can I do?" he said. "I have no choice."

That was almost four years ago. The settee has yet to be revived to its original state and is still in storage awaiting restoration. And Taxi, after that test of his newest dad's loyalty, settled in for good.

* If for some reason the link to the article does not work, you can read it here, without images. You may be able to access the video clip, though, so check it out.

fresh-baked at 04:15 PM
Wednesday, 10 December 2003

An ordinary ride on the subway is never ordinary. There's always someone doing something that even the most hard-boiled of New Yorkers would consider offensive. (And yes, here is where you picture a shiny, slippery egg dressed in a wrinkled suit and scuffed shoes, holding onto the horizontal pole* with one eggy hand and holding a folded-over New York Times with the other.)

Sometimes the offensive behavior cannot be ignored, such as when the offender loudly proclaims that he is hungry and would very much like it if you would help him out with spare change. Or when a 20-something Hispanic guy and his six-year-old sidekick, both wearing headband-bandanas, use the crowded aisle as a stage on which to show off moves that recall the Moonwalk and then the guy tosses the boy in the air and the molecules of the boy's nose scrape the subway car ceiling and he lands on the filthy floor with what you hope isn't a spine-breaking splat. And you hope it wasn't spine-breaking because it would be rude to just step over his paralyzed pre-teen body, but really, you have places to go and you're late already, so what's the protocol?

So, anyway, that's the subway. Always an "experience". Which is what you say when you know it blows but you have to live with it and pretend to love it. And shake your head in faux appreciation of the big wacky world that presents itself to you underground.

Yesterday was no exception. Yesterday, on the ride up to Bloomingdale's, a Korean man sat on my right in a separate set of seats on the other side of the double doors. He just sat there quietly, his Korean newspaper in one hand ... and his nose in the other. More specifically, his nose was in his fingers. One at a time.

You see, this man had decided to pick his nose in plain view of anyone who had the misfortune of not having been born blind. And not only did he pick his nose, but he did so with such brilliant disregard for the fact that what he was doing was largely regarded, in so-called "polite" society, as fucking disgusting. A no-no with his nose-nose.

But it wasn't just one finger, no. It was a succession. A trial and error. He tried three fingers on each hand, excluding the thumbs and pinkies. He needed the right tool for the job. His methodical mission led him from left ring finger (shockingly devoid of a wedding ring!) to right ring finger, including all other fingers, including the classic picking digits — the index fingers — in order of arrangement on his hands. This man must be a fix-it whiz around the house, carefully selecting the proper wrench for home improvement projects. Or a favorite with the kids, while acting out a nose-based rendition of Goldilocks.

Once this nasal archaeologist found a finger that best suited his purposes (the left index), he excavatated his left nostril with measured precision. The product of his efforts lingered on his fingertip. But did he dispose of it immediately? Did he perhaps flick it into oblivion, rub it on his jeans, return it from whence it came after a thorough inspection? No.

With the same thoughtful consideration a couturier would tender to the rarest of coveted fabrics for his latest take-the-world-by-storm collection, this man rolled his prize between the foraging finger and his left thumb, luxuriating in the tactile experience of his hand-picked delicacy. He rolled and he rolled, until there was nothing left to roll anymore. He looked a bit forlorn when there was nothing left of his beloved bit but a cherished memory.

That is what it is to me now, too. Just a fond memory. But I know that this is not the last time I'll see this. The cold weather invites colds to roost. And with colds come new nosefuls as stuffed with potential as the subways are jammed with those to realize it.

* Amazing what I'll do to avoid saying "rod". Not like "pole" is any better. But still.

fresh-baked at 08:05 AM
Tuesday, 9 December 2003

I suppose there's no easy way to say this, so I'm just going to blurt it out without a real introduction.

My dear friend Aramis Valverde, who went by the name "Mad Genius" online, died on Thursday, 4 December. I thought he was just in hiding, taking a little disappearance break, because the last time he wrote for his site was in June. He'd told me he was considering giving up his site, so I figured that was what he did. Still, I figured he would be back. And better than ever. He didn't want to be bothered, I thought, so that's why he hadn't responded to my emails and that's why I didn't see him on the instant messaging service we chatted on all the time.

I didn't want to think the worst. I didn't want to think that his health had deteriorated. Sure, other people got sick and died, but that was ... other people. Aramis was not "other people". He would beat it, he would outlive it, and we would celebrate the defeat. When we finally met.

Because, you see, we never met in "real life". We were fast friends online, from the very moment we found each other. There were some days when we spent all day slaying each other via instant messages or volleying email. Others when we talked on the phone. We planned to visit each other. I would come to Boston and we'd gorge ourselves to bursting at New Mother India. He would come to Manhattan and we'd stuff ourselves with Teuscher champagne truffes. We'd shop for pants to show off our fabulous assets. We'd gab like girls.

One day, we said, we would live together, like a much wittier Will & Grace. We would collaborate on a writing project. We would have an early morning radio show, revelling in our Cary Grant/Katharine Hepburn ricochet, rat-a-tat repartee. We would get a Vespa and, dressed to the nines, tens, elevens, and beyond, zip through the city like our idols, Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn, did in Roman Holiday. Some day.

"Some day" never came. Thursday, 4 December 2003 came, though, and took my friend, the brilliant Aramis, with it. I had no idea that he had died when I posted last night's entry, but somehow I think he guided me that way.

There is so much more I could write about this amazing person. There is so much I could say. But I won't. Not now. It's hard to type through tears. And if that's sappy, so be it.

Te adoro, Aramis.

fresh-baked at 08:41 AM
Monday, 8 December 2003
What He Knows

The phone rings, and my hands pause above my keyboard as I wait to see if she will answer it. It is after 10:00, after the hour when people know they can call us without worrying if they are bothering us, it is the hour where, if the phone rings we are annoyed at the caller's gall or hold our breath because we know that it means that someone is dead. And at once I know that it’s not the annoying call, I know it’s the other one, but I put my fingers back onto the keys and continue my typing, continue the clack tap clack tap that is as comforting as the tick tock of the bedside clock, and I wait. I wait in my activity, I wait, and as the words come across the page, as they fly zoom zip zam zoom zow across the page, as my mind is engaged in making sure they come to life, I know that someone has come to the end of his. And I know that he is dead. It's only a matter of time until she hands me the phone and it is confirmed. It is only as long as it takes my mother to tell my wife that my father died not half an hour ago, that she found him in the darkened den, his head off to one side the way he always fell asleep but this time there was no snore and that's how she knew he was dead. It is only as long as it takes my mother to tell my wife about my father, and I know then that it will not just be a story in my head, it will be a story filling my head from the outside, not from the inside and not from my fingertips and not from my imagination that whirs and spins and doesn't shut up every night as I worry about the eventual demise of my parents. Now it doesn't shut up. It shouts blinding words into my ears, deafening words into my eyes. That time is here.

fresh-baked at 09:44 PM
Sunday, 7 December 2003
Lunchin' Jodi

You worry about me. You worry that I have not been eating lunch, because I have not been sharing photographs of my lunches as regularly as I had been. That is because I have not been eating lunch. You see, I share every detail of my private life here on this public forum, so if it's not mentioned here, that's because it doesn't happen.

But then again, what is there to life other than Pilates, Boots, and the occasional Vegan Lunch, anyway? Who needs to sit nude on a rock, chin in hand, contemplating Truth and Beauty and Self? Not I. Any nude rock-sitting I do will not be wasted on such triviality. And you'd better believe I have better things to fill my hands with than my chin.

Here is how I filled my stomach on Tuesday, 2 December, at Candle Cafe:

Seitan Chimichurri
South American marinated seitan skewers
with creamy citrus herb dressing

Cumin Seed Crusted Tempeh
Served over a black bean and quinoa cake,
sauteed lacinato kale and butternut
squash-ancho chile puree
Drizzled with a tomatillo salsa

The Tofurky I had for Thanksgiving didn't yield the quantity of leftovers that a traditional turkeyful Thanksgiving dinner always does, so I was deprived of the comfortable thrill of the myriad of leftover variations. However, the good people at Veg City Diner recreated the magic by serving this bounty today:

Open Faced Turkey Sandwich
Oven-Roasted Filet, Mushroom Gravy and Stuffing on Toast,
served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and Spiced Apple

Although the vegan turkey part of this platter was enchanting enough on its own, and really did remind me of its non-vegan counterpart, the potatoes were even more remarkable. They took an already fantastic dining experience and turned it into a supersonic, extra-crispy deluxe extravaganza. Know why? Because they were faux-tatoes ... crafted entirely from by-products derived from animal entrails! And they tasted just like real potatoes, fresh from the soils of Idaho!

Pilates and Boots ... take a back seat! Lunch is back — and it's knockin' your socks off! Way to faux!

fresh-baked at 05:21 PM
Saturday, 6 December 2003

Sure, the shirt may be somewhat bold, what with its racy hook-and-eye closures that render it a touch corset-like, but really, it's all an act. When the shirt is home and among those who know it well, it turns its tails and gets all coy and demure. Notice the body language of the sleeves!

The beauty of living in a world-class city never ceases to delight, thrill, and overwhelm me. I take enormous comfort and pride in my city's readiness to provide home delivery of everything and anything a person could possibly want and need, and its will and ability to provide specialized services to accommodate the quirks and neuroses of its denizens, both animate and inanimate. For instance, when this shirt needs a little freshening up, I entrust it not to an ordinary dry cleaner, but to the shy cleaner.

Talk about delivering!

fresh-baked at 10:30 PM
Friday, 5 December 2003
Snowman's Land

Hey, guess what. It's snowing. A lot. And guess what it was doing exactly one year ago!?

Guess! And then click on that link to see if you were right!

Go on. I'll wait.


Wacky, isn't it. Some of you will be tempted to say it is "ironic". And some of you will actually say it. You will be wrong, though.

You will be right, though, if you say it's FUN FUN FUN and an excuse to go shopping!


fresh-baked at 06:10 PM

In the semi-darkness of the back hallway of this apartment, I often mistake my black book bag for my black cat, Shana. Ordinarily the mixup is of no consequence, but today that wasn't the case.

Today I learned that Shana does not appreciate library books jammed between her ribs or a twenty-dollar bill and some loose change stashed in her appendix. On the other hand, the book bag purrs for bonito flakes and likes to run sideways down the hall!

After about a half hour of witnessing this topsy-turvy hullabaloo, Taxi pointed out the mixup to me, and said, "I've heard of letting the cat out of the bag, but confusing the two? Please."

Apparently he doesn't remember that on Monday I mistook him for a trendy café and lounged comfortably inside his stomach for an hour before I realized why the service was so slow!

fresh-baked at 08:27 AM
Thursday, 4 December 2003
A Story In So Many Words (#8: 100) - "Sour Grapes"

What a sweet boy!

In my veins instead of blood are Pop Rocks in a variety of flavors. I tell anyone who will listen, whenever the conversation turns even remotely to the circulatory system or candy. Occasionally a jokester tells me my story is "sweet" and winks so I get the joke.

Once at a dinner party, just for kicks, I stabbed myself in the thigh with a steak knife. My life wasn't saved by any of the adults, but by little Johnny Jameson, who had the smarts to apply his mouth to my wound. It's a good thing sour grape was his favorite!

#1: 100 - "Food For Thought"
#2: 100 - "Mammu"
#3: 100 - "In A Pickle"
#4: 100 - "Meet Me"
#5: 100 - "Use Your Noodle"
#6: 100 - "Dental Gross"
#7: 100 - "Cold Cut Heart"

fresh-baked at 01:52 PM
Hats Off!

Remember the hat I wrote about yesterday? Sure you do. And if you don't, you can click on the link or scroll down (you have options). And then start taking gingko biloba or whatever the trendy memory herb du jour is. Or maybe replace the potato chip embedded in your brain with a computer chip.

Well, I take that hat off to the incredible Sarah, for coming to my rescue (all the way across the world in New Zealand!) and resolving the hideous glitch that literally kept me up at night — not trying to remedy it, of course, because I know nothing about the technical aspects of Movable Type. And the only thing I know about my "server" is that his name is Jason and he'd like to tell me the specials today. No, I was kept up at night with my endless worry that things would be permanently messed up and that my life was thus coming to an end.

So, thank you thank you thank you, Sarah of NZ from Jodi of NY. If you were as close to me as Z is to Y in the alphabet, I'd take you to lunch, and of course, photograph it, and post those images here in honor of you, for enabling me to properly upload photos again (and all the other stuff you spent so much time and energy doing for me). Please enjoy instead the gift I have sent you from your Amazon Wish List.

Of course, this means that now I can resume lunch photos, which so many of you have written to tell me you enjoy so much, and which I know Sarah digs too.

As always, stay tuned.

fresh-baked at 07:51 AM
Wednesday, 3 December 2003
The Brat in the Hat, Revisited!

A year ago almost to the day, I introduced the topic of my hat. I won't reiterate what I said then, because, really, redundancy is not my bag, my thing, my end all or be all, my schtick, and/or my cup of tea. It also does not float my boat. In addition, if you want to know what I said then, all you have to do is click on the link provided and — poof! — you will be transported to the past, and you can read all about it there. And yes, that simple click does involve time travel. Actual time travel, like in Back to the Future. Except without the snazzy motor vehicle. And no flux capacitor.

So, anyway. My hat. I wore it this morning for the first time this season. Now, what I have not mentioned about the hat before is that it has an opening at the top for the wearer to display her gorgeous shiny raven tresses. It's quite marvelous. I would show you a photo — really, I would — but I am not including any images on this site until I resolve my problem. (Time travel again! Don't be wary of it. In fact, embrace it. Remember how much better-looking you were last year at this time, or even just yesterday, and how much thinner and sharper-dressed? And how your kids still loved you and didn't think you were a piece of filth because that was before they caught you doing ... that thing ... that they had to later demonstrate to their counselors using hand puppets?)

So I wore the hat. And realized that, what with the hair-hole (oh, what scintillating imagery that conjures up!), the hat's design recalls the bathing cap I coveted when I was around six years old. Some of you may remember it. The cap was a standard design insofar as the rubber went, but attached to the crown was a long, high ponytail that recalled Ann-Margret in Bye, Bye, Birdy. Yes, a bathing cap that did perform its function of keeping the wearer's own hair dry, but which also defeated its other purpose of keeping hair from getting caught in the pool's drains. So it is with my hat. On one hand (or head), it keeps the ears and head warm, but the possibility exists for cold air to enter via the portal atop the head.

As I walked to Pilates this morning, a sprightly combination of Puss in Boots and the Cat in the Hat (original Dr. Seuss version, not the idiotic Mike Myers one), singing non-holiday songs softly (but aloud) to myself, pep in my step courtesy to the brisk frisk of air, I realized that my hat, like the bathing cap, was a beautiful melding of form and function. Style and substance. And at long last, 30-plus years after I first became starry-eyed over the ponytail bathing cap, I have achieved the same effect.

Life is good. Life is oh so very good!

fresh-baked at 10:00 AM
Tuesday, 2 December 2003

Listen, Inconsiderate Jackass Who Occasionally Calls This Household After An Unacceptable Hour: If you dare telephone this household again after the specified cutoff time, I will send someone to your workplace the following morning to cut off the balls you had to make the call in the first place. Don't you know that any time the phone rings after 9:00 p.m., I automatically wonder who's dead? Oh, how I wish that person was you.

fresh-baked at 09:23 PM

Hello. I am here. I am trying to upload something nice for you, a little special something to show you my thanks for being such faithful readers, but I am having a bit of trouble. This trouble involves Movable Type and is technical. I tell you this because I do not want you thinking I am in any other kind of trouble, like with the law. I know how you worry.

Anyway, my problem is this: For the past few days, every time I upload an image using the "Upload File" option on Movable Type and try to create a thumbnail, I receive the following error message:

Can't load '/usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.8.0/mach/auto/Image/Magick/Magick.so' for module Image::Magick: Shared object "libwmflite.so.2" not found at /usr/local/lib/perl5/5.8.0/mach/DynaLoader.pm line 229. at lib/MT/Image.pm line 8 Compilation failed in require at lib/MT/Image.pm line 8. BEGIN failed--compilation aborted at lib/MT/Image.pm line 8. Compilation failed in require at lib/MT/App/CMS.pm line 1012.

I do not know what this means. Perhaps the technically inclined among you can translate for me. Perhaps you can even help me. But please remember that I am not a computer guru or a Movable Type expert, so if you help, kindly explain the situation to me in simple terms. Just pretend I am a very slow (but educable) alien who just happens to speak English.

As additional incentive, anyone who helps me with this problem, or who provides information leading to the resolution of this problem, will be rewarded with a special mention here on my site! Also, Santa will take special note.

P.S. Yes, I have posted a plea for help on the Movable Type support forum. I know they are laughing at and deriding me over there. Which is fine. Really. Because the next time they write to me with a Pilates problem, I will laugh at and deride them and make fun of their inability to maintain a neutral pelvis.

fresh-baked at 11:15 AM
Monday, 1 December 2003
Pee take your seats!

Once, when a friend and I were discussing the finer points of public restroom etiquette, I mentioned my distaste when faced with drips and drops of other people's pee on the toilet seat. (I will not go into another offense that is far far worse, because anyone who's been treated to that account tells me it's just too traumatizing.)

The friend said, "Oh, but urine is sterile when it hits the air."

You can't imagine how thrilled I was to hear that. For years I'd been avoiding dipping the backs of my thighs into this errant liquid! I was so glad to know I could finally stop hover-squatting, and just ease myself onto the seat and relax. What a relief!

For other delightful entries about public restrooms, look here and here!

fresh-baked at 08:26 AM