Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Shameful snacking

I had to get a Snickers bar.  I usually get Twix (there were none left) and feel less ashamed about it.  First of all, I thoroughly dislike the taste of Snickers, whereas I truly enjoy consumption of both Twix bars, usually within 10 minutes of purchase.  Second, Snickers is the epitome of instant gratification, lack of self control, embarrassing behavior (particularly because of #1- I hate Snickers).  

“Hungry, why wait?”  Well, because if you wait you can get yourself a healthy snack.  Perhaps an apple or some peanuts not drenched in chemically processed caramel, nougat and low quality chocolate.  Maybe a granola bar or cup of yogurt.  Something that doesn't fall out of a brightly lit machine that stands arrogantly in the empty cafeteria, still stinky from the lunch break.  Or at least a Twix.  Getting a Snickers is a statement, a statement I hid up my suit sleeve during the walk of shame back from the vending machine to my office, where I immediately unwrapped the bar and discarded the wrapper, instantly classing up my lapse in judgment.  I devoured the Snickers before my office mate could return to his desk, and discarded a small piece for my homies.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On Baby Laughter

There are few things more deliciously satisfying than making your baby laugh. Make a funny sound after a few monotonous ones, or kiss the side of her stomach in just the right place and mood, and you are rewarded with an eruption of giggles. Every sound and smile creates bubbles of happiness that seem to define the joy of youth, the weightlessness of parenting.

Winding down from a good laugh, she gazes directly into your eyes, appreciative and expectant and with such pure love your heart literally skips a beat and I swear, you can feel it, the air in the narrow space between your face and hers is thick with love and you inhale, digging your nose into the little folds of her neck because in those moments that you wish would last forever, where else would you go for air.

Kids of the Subway

One of my favorite NYC subway moments is children stripper-dancing on the train.

I guess I’ll take a step back.

The poles in the middle of the train cars seem to be irresistible to restless young commuters, and there’s not much one can do with a pole except slide down it. Creatively.

Last week, a tourist family laughed hysterically as their little girl took center stage in a relatively empty car. The fact that their amusement encouraged her to keep dancing made it only slightly more awkward. The young father I saw this morning was less amused. He stood there with another father-son pair, talking to the adult as his son gracefully slid down the pole they were all gathered around. He pulled the boy up and told him to stop, with visibly dwindling patience as it happened a few more times.

Maybe I’d find it less funny if it was my own 7 year old boy with his hands wrapped tightly around the subway pole, lowering himself to the ground. Either way, it’s not the innocent behavior of active kids that’s amusing; its the reactions of their less pure-minded guardians that forces me to pretend I read something funny while accidentally glancing over and noticing their pole-dancing youth.

Monday, August 20, 2012

On embarrassing moments

It turns out, embarrassing moments do not end in high school. I thought they would; I thought I resolved them away. In an enlightened moment, following a particularly ungraceful one, I resolved not to dwell embarrassing moments hours after they occurred.

If you can't laugh at yourself, I'll do it for you.

The first bell rang, announcing the end of the period. I was heading to my locker, located in the basement. The lunchroom was also in the basement, and students were rushing out en masse. It was bad enough that I was moving against the flow of traffic, my hands fully occupied with books and snacks. (This makes me sound like a nerdy fatty. I can clarify that I was holding my bookbag, a textbook, and a bag of pretzels but go ahead and imagine me loaded up with history books and donuts falling out of my pockets). Then my heel misses the stair on my way down and suddenly the throngs of noisy 15-18 year olds disappear and it’s just me, my inability to grab on to a handrail, and the boy with deer-in-headlights eyes standing directly below me, in the middle of the flight of stairs I was about to descend untraditionally, with elbows and knees. Whether he meant to or not, he broke my fall. Luckily, he didn’t fall himself, and the crowds slowed for just a moment before continuing to race against the second bell. I saw myself plummeting in slow motion, imagining ahead of time exactly what would happen as my fingertips tingled with the loss of balance.

But it just wasn’t that mortifying.

So, when I stumbled backwards off the last step of the physics lecture hall (those long, short steps), ridiculously slowly, onto the hottest guy in the room (and a senior, at that), my normally eager-to-flush-beet-red face smiled it off despite the fact that it seemed like I was slowly, obnoxiously, and with increasing force leaning against him.

Now, it looks like the workplace is the new high school. Will elaborate after I dry off.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Repice: Spaghetti Squash Salad

It’s weird for me to consider a salad “recipe.” I have a hard time following recipes in general, and especially not a salad one. To me, salads are about the vegetables in your fridge and the dressing category you’re in the mood for (mayo-y or olive oil-y, sweet or salty). I tend to approximate, ignore ingredients that I don’t have, make often-inaccurate substitutions, and “fix” the recipe to accommodate my culinary preferences. I’ve had some success in doing so, but not enough to keep me from resolving to follow recipes more conscientiously. In that spirit, here’s my formal recipe. I got into spaghetti squash just recently and stumbled upon this idea while throwing together ingredients from my fridge. In the structured, measured way of “handfuls,” “pinches” and “bunches,” of course. Occasional cups and spoons, but no “ounces” involved.



1 spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
2 handfuls (or 1 ½ cups) of cherry tomatoes (or 2 stem tomatoes, diced)
1 medium red onion, diced
2 handfuls arugula
1 avocado, cubed


Juice from ½ small lime
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
¼ cup olive oil (or to taste)


1. Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise. (First, eat your wheaties, ‘cause this can be tough). Remove seeds and pulp. Be thorough about the pulp removal. I wasn’t, the first time around, and it led to a bunch of the strands still being connected to the pulp after cooking. It’s not chewable and looks gross.

2. Bake, rind side up for 30-40 minutes at 375 F.

3. Once the squash is tender, remove from oven and let cool. Then separate the strands by running a fork through the flesh. It’s pretty cool the first time you do it.

The rest is easy (it is salad, after all). Combine the spaghetti squash with the rest of the salad ingredients. Add the dressing ingredients. You can prepare the dressing separately and add later, but I find this just gets more dishes dirty.

Playing around with it (other options):

  • Add 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Add ½ tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
  • Replace the 1 tbsp of salt with 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • Add diced cucumbers, 3 tbsp feta cheese (or as much as you prefer- can’t go wrong with feta), ½ cup pitted kalamata olives. Don’t replace salt with soy sauce if you do this, though, and get rid of the salt in the dressing altogether if the olives are salty enough.
  • Add 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • Remove arugula. Add baby spinach. Or no greens at all. I made this last week and wanted greens, but had neither spinach nor arugula nor green gummy worms. I did have broccoli sitting in my fridge for an almost unacceptably long period of time. I removed a few florets, chopped finely, and it added some green and some crunch. Delicious.
Spaghetti Squash/Salad: Tips
  • At the grocery store: Choose an even light yellow squash; no bruises.
  • Making its way home: Store whole at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
  • Making it: Spaghetti squash can also be prepared by steaming (after cutting it lengthwise, and in quarters if you want shorter strands or to fit it in the pot, and steaming until tender- about 10 to 15 min), boiling or even microwaving. Can be baked whole by piercing it with a fork a few times throughout, and leaving it in the oven for a bit longer (about an hour).
  • FYI: the lime in the dressing keeps the avocado from going dark, which keeps the salad looking scrumptious, as they say, even as leftovers or next-day lunch.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Top o' the morning

What kind of morning is it? It's the kind of summer morning that starts out deceptively cool.  A moment too long getting dressed, and I end up running for the train, clutching papers and bags, hoping not to lose a shoe. Stumbling onto the platform, nauseous and out of breath, I take a look at my watch, then at the train schedule. I'm 10 minutes early. I'm sweating in the most attractive manner, and the sun persists in its heavy-handed application of heat to my forehead.  I send a quick text to my husband, thanking him for his morning meeting, and for his resulting inability to drive me to the train.  I don't recall whether it was polite.

On my morning coffee run, which is not a daily occurrence but a necessary one today, I stop at the pharmacy. Return teething pills, pick up Pedialyte. Until now, Pedialyte was the liquid that my friend gives her Yorkie after the beach. My sleepless night with a feverish infant, and Google, taught me otherwise. As I reach for my wallet, my arm brushes against the dry cleaning instructions attached to the seam of my shirt. Most wear that tag on the other side.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An Affair (9/16/09)

I decided to cheat on my dentist. I am confessing this to relieve my guilt, at the cost of some judgment. I expect that few have such loose morals, so my confession also serves as a rare glance into the feeling of another dentist's chair.

I didn't have the courage to stray far from what I've known. This dentist, too, was a middle aged Russian man. Ignoring the implications of my visit and judging me favorably, he skipped all formalities but the basic first-visit medical questionnaire. I was the only person in the office (which should have been a sign, I later realized, but one that I ignored in my wide-eyed wonder), so I didn’t get to sit in the waiting room, or to evaluate the comfort of his waiting room seats or the relevance of his waiting room posters.

Easing myself into his chair, my arms fell into an all-too-familiar position. If he intended the experience to resemble that of, let's just call him #1, he would have turned on some classical music and started softly humming along, close to my ear (due to the nature of his task) but not to me. Instead, it was the far more unsettling Russian radio that was audible in the background. The radio must have been located in the adjacent safe room where the doctor goes to flip on the x-ray switch and hide as you lay in the chair with a lead blanket and oddly exposed head.

He held the xrays up to the light machine, shook his head deliberately and professionally, aware of my attention, and poured out flattery regarding the dismal (or splendid, whatever) condition of my teeth. I zoned out, wondering what he looked like under the mask and whether at the end of the day, his trimmed beard suffered from the "hat hair" effect. He brought me back to current events by displaying the x-rays, handing me a mirror, and briefing me on my mouth's internal affairs. I learned a little about reading teeth xrays.

Diligence and stupidity are not easily discernable when it comes to a drawn-out drilling process.

After summarizing my oral situation, he consulted me on our first course of action. I do not expect to act, so the course should not be “ours.” I expect to come, sit, have some decision made for me, and to leave with a sense of accomplishment, with one less problem, and drooling a little from my numb side.

As he started drilling, I realized I was tenser than usual- the chair was far too upright, requiring me to arch my neck awkwardly and unnaturally. C'mon doc, isn’t this the first thing you learn in school? In grade school. The chair should be comfortable. But it wasn’t, and it wasn’t long before I began reminiscing about my old dentist’s hum, his pleasing choice of music, and of course his perfectly positioned chair. I focused my energy on ignoring the Russian radio conversation in the radiation-free room. This helped keep my mind off thoughts about how bad turtlenecks would look on me if my neck stays like this forever. He partially redeemed himself by applying the water suction thing sparingly. The constant struggle to prevent one side of my mouth from drowning and the other side from dryly crumbling into sand disappeared. As did any chance of my returning to him when he accidentally drilled too far. Surprises are good, but I just wasn’t dressed for a root canal.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Bursting bubbles.

Reaching out of my shower, water dripping off my hand and creating an excess-water situation to which I will not own up when the time comes, I felt around the bathroom sink for facewash- rejecting toothpaste, soap, foot scrub (that shouldn't be on the sink, right?), and a cell phone (just in case... someone calls). My usual face wash must have run out, because I ended up with some Neutrogena/Noxema/whatever crap, now with bursting bubbles! This was likely a remnant of my sister's move back home from college.  Only college students, with their senses slowly dulled by loud music, limited cleanliness and borderline alcoholism would spread something that smells like cheap air freshener (or awesome detergent) all over their face.  I gave in to the orange-scented soap, letting it work its magic as it battled oily skin and grass stains, wondering how many shots the girls in those commercials take before pretending to enjoy this pungent dishwashing liquid routine.