Monday, January 31, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies are for idiots

As if my last blog weren't sardonic enough, now I have something else that I feel passionate enough about to write a blog. A topic that keeps me up at night: bad cookies. There are some things that just irritate me to no-end and bad cookies fall into this category.

Here is what drives me mad: when people say they "know how to bake" and then they deliver these piece-of-crap, hard-as-a-rock, drab-flavored, ho-hum, I'm-so-bored-by-the-plainness-of-these-things-I-might-yawn chocolate chip cookies. Just thinking about such a plain and boring cookie makes me want to stare into space and file my nails and whistle and not pay any attention to the subject matter whatsoever. So ridiculously plain that I felt the need to write a blog to express my sheer and utter maddening annoyance.

People who think chocolate chip cookies are good are essentially idiots. It is not dissimilar from a wine connoisseur dining at a fancy restaurant, and requesting Boon's Farm. (A $2.99/bottle wine with a twist-off cap that they sold at the gas station down the street from my apartment when I was in college.)

My friend and colleague is from Pittsburgh and we were talking about good things that come out of Pittsburgh. (Of course, top on her list was The Steelers, but I am indifferent about football, so instead we re-focused the conversation and talked about other things that come from the region.) Since I grew up not too far away from "the burgh" as she calls it, there are some similar traditions in the region that extend to northeast Ohio. One of them is the cookie table at weddings. It is mostly an Italian thing, but I think a lot of people in northeast Ohio/western Pennsylvania do this, whatever their background may be. The cookies don't compete with the cake; conversely they are an essential addition to the cake. The reception halls automatically know to put up a cookie table. Family members make them and bring them there before the wedding starts and set them up. And people take home the left-overs in little boxes. We also have them at birthdays and Christmas and other occasions too.

When I lived in New York all these years, and went to weddings I never once saw a cookie table. Those folks are missing out! As for me, I have never wanted a big wedding. I want a simple wedding. (Just a husband will do for crissakes, who needs frills? See my last blog if you need clarification on this.) ..... Where was I? Right..... so all I want is simplicity when it comes to weddings. And maybe a really pretty pair of delicate white shoes with custom beading and rhinestone/pearl embellishments. And that is IT. Simple. Easy. No-frills. But I might renege on that decision one day just so I can have a cookie table.

It looks about like this:

I guess since I've (trying to successfully) been doing weight watchers, cookies have been on my mind a lot. The clothespin cookies, the pizzelles, the delicate little buttery almond cookies covered in powdered sugar, the melt-in-you-mouth flaky date-and-nut stuffed cookies, the cherry cookies, the banana nuggets, the kind that have anise and figs (they might be called cuccidati), and these anginetti cookies with a delicate lemon flavor. Then there are the little cheesecake squares. And I know I'm forgetting some.

I just really want a cookie.

My sister-in-law makes good cookies too. She shipped me some at christmastime and I just finished off the last of them. (3 weight watcher points for a little one).

I had some good cookies last weekend when I went to Ohio for my grandma's 90th birthday and to visit my nephew. Talk about sweet little things that I just wanna eat up! Here is baby Sergio with my grandma (I think they are both pretty sweet and adorable) and one of me holding that little Sweetie Pie (me holding Sergio, not my grandma). He is a very docile baby. Gentle and sweet and snuggly. I often vacillate about whether I want to have a baby of my own, but after this, I think I definitely do. Very few things feel as good as holding a baby in my arms.

And here is a close-up of the clothespin cookies- they are called this because the dough is wrapped around a clothespin, baked, and then squirted with this creamy yummy filling:

If I don't indeed move back to New York, it's because I've again changed my mind and decided to go back to northeast Ohio instead. Because New Yorkers suck at making good cookies. (Dear Goddess of Liberty: please do not write me off- I still love being part of your huddled masses. And I'm 90% sure I'll be back, but I just like cookie tables. That's all. Surely you must understand. You're French- cookies are good there too.)

So maybe I just need to get my Grandma's and my Sister in Law's recipes. Now *that* is a good solution. A solution that will allow me to have my cookies and bake them too. And I will finally find this elusive husband. And have a baby. Sergio should have a cousin. And he should have a cookie. (When he is old enough to digest solid food.)

And so it is settled. There shall be a wedding and there shall be pretty white beaded shoes and there shall be a baby and there shall be a cookie table in my future. Chocolate chips shall not be invited.

Disclaimer: Hypocritically, I still might eat a chocolate chip cookie one day in a desperate moment. Like say for instance, if I move back to NYC and there are no pizelles, nor clothespin cookies, nor buttery little almond treats to be found. I am not exempt from idiotism and besides, everyone sometimes takes desperate measures. Please do not exile me if you ever see me eating that junk. Because they are like 384949 zillion weight watcher points. And they taste like complete shit. That's punishment enough.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Leprosy


I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains there's more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line and the less I seek my source for some definitive (the less I seek my source) the closer I am to fine the closer I am to fine

(Indigo Girls, Closer to Fine)

The other day at work a colleague (We’ll call her Emma) was talking to another colleague and I about her brother and all of these great things he does and this fantastic job he has. We’ll call him Ed. So I casually asked Emma the next most logical question that a person might ask her: “Is Ed single?”

Is
He
Single
?


It was as though I had voiced that question in slow motion. Similar to when you push the button on the DVD that makes it play in sloooooow mode with a deeeeep, streeeetched out voooooooice.

Emma’s eyes widened. She looked me up and down. “Laurie. Could it BE? Are you SINGLE?” The word single was pronounced as if she were incredulously inquiring “Do you have LEPROSY?”

Well, yes Emma. Yes, I have been infected for a few years now. It is more wide-spread in New York, but I brought the disease down here with me to North Carolina. Fortunately it is not contagious, but there is only one known cure. There are a few treatments to make the pain go away and to stop the bleeding, but there are a few side-affects. Symptoms vary. Watery eyes. Rapid beating heart. Cravings for copious amounts of alcohol.

There is a colony for people who have been infected. The colony is located on an island far, far away, an island known as Manhattan. You pay your toll at a gateway to the Singledom Colony. That gateway is called the Holland Tunnel. From there you are triaged to the appropriate sector: outpatient, respiratory, broken hearts, radiology, and Chelsea. (The latter is for those in need of homeopathic medicine.) There is no need for Quarantine in Manhattan, as Singledom is not contagious; conversely those diagnosed may actually cure one another with proper treatment. Singledoms walk among healthy people. In fact, Singledom is not even diagnosed as an actual disease on the remote island of Manhattan, only in faraway lands, known as the South or the Midwest or Ohio. Singledom is rare in the South and doctors are often uncertain how to treat this condition. One is better off seeking treatment at more advanced facilities in larger cities throughout the world.

Often times desperate measures are taken as a home remedy to treat Singledom. I was watching a re-run of “Friends” the other day. Chandler, after seeing a neighbor die alone, realized that he was much like the neighbor and he may die alone as well. So he called his ex-girlfriend Janice, who was somewhat nuts, but nonetheless a viable option to date. He then finds out that Janice is married and pregnant.

I chuckled at this episode, as it is all too familiar. It is quite simple to call ghosts-of-boyfriends-past as a temporary cure for such an ailment. It’s kind of similar to Vic’s Vaporub to treat a stuffed-up nose. You rub it all over your nose, your chest and your throat and it temporarily makes you feel a little bit better but once it wears off, you’re back to not being able to breath again……yeah…….all too familiar.

In North Carolina, it hasn’t been so easy. There are exactly zero ex-boyfriends who live here. Which were plentiful in New York. Maybe not what all doctors would recommend, but a good temporary cure. Kind of like eating chocolate when your blood-sugar drops. Not as healthy as drinking orange juice, but still an alternative that helps you feel better.

I am somewhat fit to be tied. I have this dreadful disease. I am miles away from a treatment facility. And suffering severe symptoms.

What I’ve got to offer is: a vaccine for others who may be experiencing the same diagnosis. Word on the street is that February is Singledom Awareness month. I think there is even like a pink ribbon or something that you wear on your shirt to support the cause.

So, I guess at the risk of ruining any sense of pride I have- if you are reading this blog and you know someone who suffers from Singledom, who might benefit from treatment, I may be able to help with the cure. I am not licensed or anything, but I think I would be as skilled as an advanced practitioner. I have done extensive research on this science. My treatment regime includes lots of fun evenings out with liberal amounts of alcohol to disinfect the wounds; international travel to treat tropical depression; home-made chicken noodle soup to clear any congestion, heavy dosages of Vic’s Vaporub to open any blocked passages, chemo (not the kind that makes you lose your hair though), and I am also skilled in CPR. I do firmly believe I can cure Singledom. I have the elixir.

Emma asked what my requirements are:
Religion: Gentile or Jew, Taoist or “Spiritual but not Religious”. Agnostic or Buddhist. Shit. For me a “religious experience” means lying on the couch with a bottle of cabernet (holy Eucharist as far as I’m concerned) and a box of pizza (communion) and re-runs of Law & Order (reconciliation). I’m Roman Catholic, but at this stage, who in the Hell (or purgatory) is counting?
Occupation: Seeing as how I work with punk 18 year olds who are students, I meet absolutely 0 prospective boyfriends in the workplace. So anything that requires a college degree and some level of goals and a steady salary is good in my book.
Physical Attributes: Black, White, Cuban, and Malaysian. Hell, I pretty much suffer from leprosy, so you can have gaping wounds for all I care.

So Emma, to answer your question:
Yes, yes I am single. So sue me for mal-practice. It’s weird here. And if you know of any single men in this god-forsaken state, YES I am accepting new patients. And hey Manhattan- if you’re still accepting my insurance, I’m ready to come home for in-patient treatment.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Out with the old.....

Here is a review of 2010:
January
* Worked a gig for New Years Eve on "The Temptress". Had some friends aboard with me. We had fun! Brought in the New Year, toasting to fireworks over the Statue of Liberty.

February
* Poked my eyes out with a stick.

March
* I can't remember what I had for supper, let alone what I did in March, so I guess it wasn't that memorable.....

April
* Went to Brazil with my friend from Semester at Sea and met up with our friend Zella who was working the Spring 2010 voyage. Went to a soccer match in Rio. Visited the ship in Salvador, which is in the northern part of the country.

May
* Went to Hawaii with JoAnn, my BFF from High School

June
* Had a miracle happen: got a table at Rao's with my friend John
* Went to Cincinnati for my Cousin Stephanie's graduation

July
* Went to Canton/Akron for 4th of July with my family

August
* Got offered a promotion at my job and made a difficult decision to relocate.

September
* Went to Ireland with Dara. Stayed mostly in Dublin, but also visited The Cliffs of Moher and Gallway.
* Moved to North Carolina.

October
* Went to Wilmington with Douglas.
* Went back to NYC for Halloween weekend. Saw lots of old friends. Cried the entire way back.

November
* Made a grueling drive to Ohio for my sister-in-law's baby shower. Had to leave at 4 AM just to make it there on time.

December
* Planned and organized Graduation and Commencement ceremony for my students. It was a much huger project than I ever realized. But fun.

* Traveled back to New York for Christmas. Got stuck there for three extra days and it was fantastic!

* Best of all: Missed a phone call while I was on the flight back to NC. Learned that my first nephew was born! Sergio Cyrus. I will meet him in two weeks and I can't wait.


What I've done so far in January:
* Watched the Twilight Zone Marathon.
* Toured a microbrewery in Raleigh.
* Had a snow day- spent the day on the sofa, eating potato chips (while still sticking to weight watchers, thankyouverymuch), watching re-runs of Law & Order, and unloading the dishwasher. A success so far, if I do say so myself.

Goals for 2011
* Love
* Increase my income
* Many visits to Ohio to visit my new Nephew (and the rest of my family)
* Be a better friend to people I love
* Donate clothing and furniture that I no longer need to Salvation Army
* Travel to Abu Dhabi and Qatar to visit two of my friends who work in higher education at campuses in those countries
* Attend NASPA convention in Philadelphia for professional development
* Lose 52 pounds
* Take advantage of the pool at my apartment this summer
* Learn how to brew beer
* Cut back on drinking to oblivion (Had to put some easy ones in there- since I haven't ever really done this at all- I want to be successful achieving these) :)
* Stop sending the Universe mixed messages about what I want in life
* New York = home.