January 14, 2008
My happiest moments in San Francisco were spent lying alongside RC in her cozy bed, dozy from her Vicodin, watching tv like invalids. We watched The Office and The Sopranos. We also watched a French movie that tracked the course of a terrible marriage backwards, from divorce to first meeting.
Neither of us could understand what the couple’s marriage was supposed to have been founded on in the first place: deep compatibility? Pure animal lust? Love? Love wasn’t telegraphed in this movie the way it is in American movies, with wide-eyed staring, breathy whispers and smiles. Maybe the couple was in love and I just have no idea what that’s supposed to look like anymore.
We walked around in Golden Gate Park which, like a lot of other things about San Francisco, is incredibly pretty in the abstract, but grimy and depressing up close. We walked along a lush forest path, everything extra green and enlivened by the soaking rain that had fallen nonstop for the first two days of my visit.
(Also it was very windy and cold and no one has heat in their houses, I feel obligated to point out!)
Anyway we walked along, smelling the eucalyptus and pine, avoiding eye contact with the grimy people who live in the park (“It’s like an outdoor music festival with no music,” RC had explained earlier). We started talking about how she thinks her exboyfriend never loved her. I eventually got her to amend this to: He never loved her, based on her definition of “love.” From what I know about them, this seems accurate. She said she wished she’d never gotten back together after the first time they broke up.
And I remembered, for the first time in a long time, about how, a couple months into our so-intense-so-fast relationship (I’ll never be that young and trusting again!), William had freaked out and tried to break up with me and I hadn’t let him.
I sat on his lap in the kitchen and deployed the biggest weapon in my arsenal. It was the only weapon in my arsenal, actually. Also it had only just then occured to me. I asked him to imagine me with someone else and, because he couldn’t imagine that, he stayed with me. I wonder whether it should have ended then. I wonder what the past six years of my life would’ve been like.
RC’s relationship totally should have ended the first time it ended, right? Or maybe there’s a purpose to everything she’s suffered since. Does all suffering have to have a purpose? Does any suffering ever have a purpose?
Anyway later we went to a teahouse that had at least forty floridly described varieties of tea on its menu. One had been specially blended for the Dalai Lama. Another was described as being somehow like the thundering hooves of a herd of majestic stallions.
RC sat across from me, dipping green tea cookies into her $6 chai. “I wonder if I’ll ever date anyone again,” she mused.
I got ready to launch into “Don’t be ridiculous, of course you will, and sooner than you think,” but it was late in my visit and each of us had given the other one so many hollow pep talks by then, all the words had been said so I stopped a few words in. I ate a bite of cookie. It was delicious.
“I wonder if I’ll ever love anyone again,” I said.
Then we sat there silently for a while, stabbing our forks into a little puddle of green tea mousse and then into the fudge brownie alongside it. It was an unexpectedly good flavor combination. San Francisco does have the most amazing food.
December 24, 2007
“This is my little brother Ben. He’s a hippie,” I told Patrick, who owns the friendly cafe a block away from my house where I always feel bad about noticing movie stars, because they have so obviously come here to be safe in a homey little corner of Brooklyn where no one will recognize them. (However, someone once sent a sighting of ME at the Victory to the Gawker Stalker tip line, so this is a delusion on everybody’s part).
“Nice to meet you, Ben,” Patrick said, and told us a story about how he used to steal pot from hippies when he was 11. Then he gave us a free breakfast. I really like Patrick.
Ben rolled his eyes. He doesn’t especially like being called a hippie, but that’s what he is. Personally I would be a little bit flattered if someone called me a hippie, but I guess that’s one of the differences between being a (semi) adult person who has always had a job who, like, has some tattoos and will order her entree with brown rice instead of white if that’s an option and being an almost 22 year old male college sophomore with long, long Jesus hair who has spent time — like, years — living on actual communes.
Anyway, Ben and I took our tea and bagels and walked to the Flatbush Avenue Long Island railroad station, where we caught the train to Rockville Center to attend our grandfather’s funeral.
The funeral home was lame as fuck, not at all like Fisher and Sons. I found myself wondering whether a small cottage industry of Fisher and Sons-themed funeral homes has sprung up to tend to the deathtime needs of hardcore Six Feet Under fans, and whether it would be possible for me to have my funeral at one, and whether I would actually want to do that. I also mused about a lot of more appropriately somber things as I sat on some fake-fancy furniture with my family, facing away from the corner of the room with my grandfather’s coffin in it.
I really appreciate about Judaism that everyone gets buried in the same unvarnished wooden crate. It was jarring to actually see it, though. The funeral director came and made my Dad look in the coffin, which I guess is an important duty that someone has to do. This started a mini-trend of people looking in the coffin: My aunt and my brother both did. “He looks good, he looks good,” my aunt kept repeating. My brother said he wished he hadn’t looked.
I felt like I was being chicken, but I was not about to go look in the coffin.
I have seen the going-out-to-the-graveyard scene in a hundred movies and tv shows but this was my first time experiencing it, and those tv shows and movies have it right, pretty much. People in black stand in the wintry, windswept graveyard looking stoic while a priest or in this case a rabbi says a couple of things, and occasionally the people burst into tears. Again, Judaism has a good aspect: everyone shovels a ceremonial shovelful of dirt into the grave. The dirt makes a loud plopping sound as it hits the coffin. When you see a coffin lying in a grave as you shovel dirt on top of it, you cannot help but realize that the person in the coffin really is dead.
Afterwards, we spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the couch in my grandparents’ apartment, eating cold cuts and rugelach. For the next few hours, old people and middle aged people were talking about movies they’ve seen recently, what their grandchildren are up to, doesn’t Medicare suck, what medications they’re on, and other old-people topics. I kind of wished that someone wanted to talk about like ‘death, man, what is up with that’ but a funeral isn’t really the appropriate venue for that kind of conversation.
However, the rest of the evening, which I spent with my little brother at my apartment, completely was the appropriate venue for that kind of conversation. We talked, not only about ‘death, what is up’ but also: ‘is the government spying on us at all times (yes)’, ‘capitalism is so so so so bad’, and also ‘consumerism, corporations, and global agribusiness are so so so so bad’. We talked about ‘basically we live in the Matrix’ and about the commune in Hawaii Ben’s hoping to start. It was equal parts bleak and fun and annoying. Along the way, we — or really Ben — made some soup out of the vegetal contents of my fridge. We ate it with a salad and some Irish soda bread.
Hippie Soup (tastes especially good if the only thing you’ve eaten all day is a bagel and some funeral meat)
One can black beans
One can whole tomatoes
a few cloves of minced garlic
a diced onion
Whatever vegetables are in your fridge. I had:
Half a head of Savoy cabbage
Saute the onion and garlic. Dice the potato but leave the skin on. Remember, you’re a hippie! Slice up the cabbage and the parsnip and add those too. Add the beans and the tomato, salt and pepper, and a bunch of water. Simmer until the veggies are soft.
Irish soda bread
2 cups of preferably bread flour but it’s not like I have bread flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk or failing that, milk or even (this worked!) soymilk with a splash of vinegar added
Preheat oven to 350. Sift together (or just whisk together) the dry ingredients. Add the buttermilk or faux-buttermilk and knead on a well-floured surface for about a minute. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky. Shape into two mini-loaves and place them on a greased cookie sheet, scoring across the top with a sharp knife. Bake for 45 minutes. Try to let them cool before you eat them.
You’d think a hippie would use whole wheat flour but life is too short for that bullshit.
November 21, 2007
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October 9, 2007
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October 5, 2007
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September 23, 2007
These pork chops aren’t a metaphor. They’re just pork chops. I made them for Lori on the one month anniversary of living in my apartment as part of the first real meal I’ve cooked here, which kind of blows my mind. But today I went to the grocery store and bought some staples and ingredients and right now I’m cooking meal number two. This one’s just for me. I guess I broke the seal.
I got my pork chops from the famous Los Paisanos meat market, which is actually namedropped in the cookbook this recipe is loosely adapted from, Daisy Cooks! by Daisy Martinez. I love Daisy. I feel like her attitude about cooking jibes perfectly with mine: she loves big flavors and minimal ingredients, and she avoids fussy sauces or intricate techniques. Also all her recipes are perfect for a crowd and pretty cheap to make. This recipe in particular is a budget special: you can probably get everything you need to make it for around $7.
Adobo, which you can make or buy. I recommend “make” because the idea of MSG grosses me out and it’s hard to find supermarket adobo that doesn’t have any. It’s a pretty great thing to have around, cause you can just rub it on any meat or poultry, cook it however you like and then poof: dinner is served. So: combine 6 tablespoons kosher salt, 3 tablespoons onion powder, 3 tablespoons garlic powder, 3 tablespoons ground black pepper, and 1 1/3 teaspoons oregano, and store it in an empty spice jar.
2 bone-in pork chops
a few crushed garlic cloves
apple cider vinegar
Rub your pork chops down thoroughly with the adobo. Then make a little bath for them in a shallow container using the juice of the oranges and lemon, a healthy splash of the apple cider vinegar, and the garlic cloves. Let that sit out on the counter while you get the rest of dinner together, or stick it in the fridge if you’re not going to cook dinner for more than an hour. Flip them over a couple of times.
When you’re ready, sautee the chops over medium heat in peanut or canola oil, cooking until golden on both sides. Serve with rice and beans or salad or platanos or salad or all of the above. Savor the delicious flavor of finally getting your kitchen operational!