Monday, January 26

Things I Like RN (Mostly Foods)

I got to binge on a bunch of Steven Universe on a plane and have been obsessed ever since. The show is about a little boy with latent magical powers and three alien ladies who keep watch over him, helping him to learn his powers and make sense of his existence. Steven's dad is a failed rock star and his mom, an alien herself, gave up her corporeal form to have him. There are lots of unanswered questions, particularly about Steven's mother, and the show spends a lot of time with him seeking answers to help better understand her and who she was. This aspect of the show, while not the only major aspect (there are still plenty of cartoon elements - coming of age tropes, battles, more common struggles a little boy might face like older kids, meanies, fights with your best friend, etc.) is what keeps me invested. Rebecca Sugar has beautifully captured what it's like to miss a parent who is no longer around, to struggle trying to know a person who no longer exists, and has packaged it in a way that is positive and accessible to not only kids but adults as well. This clip is definitely spoilery, but I think it really sums up what I mean. Also the music is really fantastic.

I'm not proud of my love for frozen pierogies, but it's there, it's real, and I can't shake it. The way I see it, a plate of forzen pierogies is a lot healthier than a frozen pizza, so there. I love them with plain Greek yogurt and a salad dressing of 1 tbsp oil, 2 tbsp soy sauce and rice wine vinegar each, garlic and onion powder, sesame seeds and red pepper flakes.

Broad City has been on Amazon Prime for a minute and I finally watched the whole thing in a day a couple weeks ago (just in time for the new season) and was elated. The show is hilarious. The premise is classic - two 20-somethings struggle to make it in the big city - but that's where classic ends. It's a female buddy comedy, as bawdy and gnarly and stupid as Ass Backwards or Bridesmaids. I have a weird thing where I don't laugh at TV or movies unless I find a joke absolutely, uproariously funny. This show gets me howling. Bonus: the adorable Hannibal Buress plays an even more adorable dentist.

Have you had green onions? They're amazing. You can put them in anything and it's instantly better. For whatever reason, though, I have hard time keeping them fresh in my fridge? Like, an onion will stay edible for a month, but these are kaput in a day. I don't know what I'm doing wrong (and I'm not going to correct anything I'm already doing) but that's the only reason they're not 100% superior to an actual regular onion.

I spend a good deal of winter in a modestly heeled black leather ankle boot. The shoe looks a little fancier than a flat and goes well with almost all of my outfits, the leather keeps my feet warm, and I'm more conscious of my walking so I never slip. I haven't slipped and fallen on ice (sober) in over 3 years. This is a feat in North Dakota, okay. Still, this year I thought maybe it would be an okay idea to have a pair of flats on hand, so I bought these at a discount around Christmas. I love the Chelsea boot style and will definitely continue purchasing this style for a few years because holy cow it feels good to easily slip in and out (while my idiot friends must tie and untie, zip and unzip!) of a comfy boot that is rugged enough to carry me around like a bad ass through alleys and snowy fields and what not without the boot itself being some L.L. Bean monstrosity. These boots are kind of shit and won't make it to next year, but I'm happy with the overall purchase and will be looking into a pair of Doc Martens next winter.

Honorable Mentions:

Pretzel Buns - make aioli with a little soy sauce thrown in and eat anything, literally anything on it, and it'll be delicious. A friend suggested this pairing with a grilled Portobello mushroom that had been marinated in balsamic vinaigrette. I hate mushrooms but tried it anyway and that was a tasty Goddamn sandwich.

Unseasonably Warm Weather - it feels like March here in the Dakotas. I guess the East Coast is about to get slammed and here we are in 45 degrees wearing t-shirts and taking our dogs to the park. A colleague joked about how no good can come of this, that in our relaxed state we will be barraged with the storm to end all storms, but I think after last winter this is exactly what was coming to us. WE EARNED THIS.

A Non-Pizza Body - I stopped working out last October because it's the fucking holidays, I don't have time to exercise, okay? Maybe I just didn't want to. It doesn't matter. It's none of your business. I recently returned to the gym thinking I could run a half mile and would keel over, but I've been running miles pretty easily and will be back up to speed shortly. I'm glad my body is strong and didn't turn into pizza during our hiatus.

Friday, January 23


This is the best thing I've done with a camera phone in the 10 years that I've had one and honestly I can't believe I didn't do it sooner.

Monday, January 19

I Went to Europe for 2 Weeks Last September: A Practical Guide w/ Instagrams

Locations: Geneva and Montreux in Switzerland, Chamonix and Avingnon in France, with some day trips to places like Gruyères, Marseille and Nîmes. 

Fuck Ups: Had some issues with my legal married name (a hyphenated monstrosity; feminists, amirite?) not matching my passport, which had my old, unmarried name but also part of my new name so it shouldn't have been a problem, logically, but whatever. Kiah was told that if we had a copy of our marriage license it would be No Big Deal but this was a Goddamn lie.

Stuff I Packed: I did a lot of research about what I should pack clothing-wise and I'm glad I did. First, I packed so well and so little that I only filled half of my carry on, thus leaving room for stuff like this metal cicada we bought and a kilo of candy. Second, I didn't want to look totally out of place and like a tourist. The moment I started speaking horrible French the jig was up, but still.

1 pair black jeans
1 black and white striped sweater
1 chambray button up
1 slinky white dressy blouse
1 grey and white striped t-shirt
1 black and white striped skirt
1 pair denim shorts
1 nice evening dress
1 black cardigan
1 moto jacket
1 pair red Converse sneakers
1 pair nice flat black sandals
1 pair fancy flats
2 pairs of socks (white cotton for sneakers, red wool for plane ride)
2 bras
5 pairs undies
1 white tee for layering/pajamas
1 silk scarf

+a basic amount of makeup to do a simple easy face all the way to a really made up one (a good eyeshadow palette is essential; mine includes a shade for me to do my brows plus others for my eyes including eyeliner), a perfume roller, toothbrush, a razor, some jewelry, bobby pins.

Stuff I Shouldn't Have Packed: shorts/skirts - these made me comfortable on a couple of hot days but I didn't really wear them - women in France really do the tomboy thing and I saw very few women in skirts let alone shorts or anything that came above the knee; my dress - I've still never had a chance to wear it and that's maddening but it just seemed so out of place most days; the striped tee - never wore it because it felt too under-dressed.

Stuff I Should Have Packed: tampons because I got my period immediately after entering the airport because life is awesome, menstruating is awesome; a bathing suit because people swim in Lake Geneva apparently and also we visited the Mediterranean; a pedometer (there were a lot of days we just wandered aimlessly and we Google mapped one and estimated we walked 8 miles; would've been cool to know for sure); shampoo - I bought some French stuff and it's lovely but it was also $15; sunblock - I read it's better in Europe but it also costs 1,000 euros so; a little art kit to sketch/paint; more socks; a water bottle - Geneva had all these fountains labeled potable and non potable so you could fill up everywhere - SO NICE!

Stuff I'm Super Glad I Packed: my silk scarf saved my shitty hair a lot and became a precious item in my bag; tweezers; perfume - holy crap Europeans are into smelling good; a face illuminator - my skin got kind of cruddy in the second week and Benefit's Watt's Up helped me look a little brighter and definitely helped when I was tired/a little hungover; my chambray button up - seriously my best clothing purchase since I first bought black high waisted jeans in 2010; lots of stuff to read - lots of car rides, train rides, slow evenings, lazy days where a good book was just necessary AND I think having them on this trip cured my grad school reading hangover.

Misconceptions I Held Before: I thought Europe was going to be totally inspiring and poetic and that I'd write a novel by the time I got home - nope. It was beautiful and I cobbled up some rough drafts of a few poems, but mostly I was just exhausted by how picturesque everything is. Have you ever known a person who is 100% kind and 100% beautiful 100% of the time? That person is great mostly but holy crap sometimes you just want them to relax. That's how I felt at least once a day. And French people are actually really kind and helpful, if anything they're a little pushy when they're busy.
The biggest misconception I had was that international travel would be scary and overwhelming. I always used to say that I had no real desire to travel and I realize now that was an attempt at masking my fear. International travel is scary and overwhelming, but it's not terrifying or soul crushing. It's stressful, like anything else. After this trip I came to deeply regret missing the opportunity to study abroad as an undergraduate and all the other little opportunities to teach abroad that sit in my lap now are even more tempting.

"Truths" I Know Now: Everything else they say about French people is true. They are very lean, almost spindly. Older women like to be topless on the beach - super cool! They are a very intimate people typically, very whispery. I thought I could practice French by listening to conversations in public, but everyone speaks so quietly that it's hard to overhear anything. German tourists are out of Goddamn control. I'm not trying to be a jerk, it's just true. Cheese making sounds fun but it stinks - probably should have been able to guess that, though.

Books Read: The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham - perfect for the trip as it's about Americans in France; The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll by Jean Nathan; The Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.

Should Have: Had a drink at the H.R. Giger bar (we did visit the museum though; super weird, super cool, saw a little German girl cry); eaten more cheese; drank more wine; eaten more gaufres; had some frites; visited more art museums.

Best Stuff: Good wine is like $6 a bottle; Steven Universe on the plane - my new favorite show!; this amazing sandwich I ate 100x in Switzerland: a pretzel roll with salami, butter and a gherkin; doing something totally new with my favorite dude; seeing props from Alien - one of my top 5 favorite movies; laughing and laughing and laughing with Kiah at this Russian version of MTV; Lake Geneva at sunset; several hilarious toilet mishaps (Americans, amirite?).

Worst Stuff: French food is kind of totally boring and I really missed Mexican food after a while - God Bless the USA; getting lost in Marseille - not the lovely seaside town W. Somerset Maugham books promised me; missing my pets; missing my bed.

Next Trips: Iceland, Greece, Japan, Thailand, Puerto Rico, Belgium - but for 7-10 days at a time (2 weeks is so long!). I would like to plan each a year in advanced so I can practice the language a little before going - having some basic French in my pocket was SO helpful. Also will be bringing my best dude. This trip was fun because of my travel partner and besto. We had such a good time together and I hope to make fun of local customs and use bathroom appliances incorrectly with him all over the world.

Thursday, January 15

A Thing I Liked

It was a glamorous spring day. The gold star in Mrs. Allen's window gleamed in the light. The apple trees in the Hancock's yard had burst into bloom. Elsie Carter came riding down the boulevard carrying her sack of Saturday Evening Posts. One of my molars was about to fall out. I could taste the wonderful thin, salty taste of blood. I was eight years old. In five years darker blood would pour out from between my legs and all things would be changed. For now, I was pure energy, clear light, morally neutral, soft and violent and almost perfect. I had two good eyes and two good ears and two arms and two legs. If bugs got inside me, my blood boiled and ate them up. If I cut myself, my blood rushed in and sewed me back together. If a tooth fell out, another one came in. The sunlight fell between the branches of the trees. It was Saturday. I had nothing to do and nowhere to go and I didn't have to do a thing I didn't want to do and it would be a long time before things darkened and turned to night.
Selection from "The Tree Fort" collected in Light Can Be Both Wave and Particle by Ellen Gilchrist

Monday, January 12

10 Things I Learned Watching All of Seinfeld


1. Jerry never goes to Elaine’s apartment in the whole entire series. George goes once or twice to get something he wants from her, but Jerry doesn’t ever go. Do you have friends like this? It’s bullshit.

2. George has a curious nipple hair situation that I found distracting.

3. A contraceptive sponge is an apparatus you insert into your vagina before intercourse. The sponge is designed to absorb semen where, once trapped in the sponge, it will be eradicated via a spermicide. You can wear a sponge for up to 24 hours and use it multiple times. The sponge was taken off the US market in the 90’s, but came back around the 2000’s. A box of 3 costs about $13-$17, making intercourse cost about ~$5. If you want to get your money’s worth (at least compared to say, the cost of a condom - ~$10/24, ~$0.41 for a single session of intercourse), you need to have sex (culminating in the male’s ejaculation) at least 12x in the 24 hours that you wear the sponge.

4. There are only about 20 people of color in the city of New York.

5. We came out of the 1990’s believing the show was a show about nothing. This has a lot to do with the meta episodes in which Jerry and George write a pilot for a TV show that is, essentially, Seinfeld. However, Jerry Seinfeld himself has said that the show was more purposeful than simply being about the minutiae of 4 peoples’ shitty lives. Rather, he claims Seinfeld is a show about how a comedian comes up with material. This is evident by examining the show’s opening and closing sequences. In earlier seasons the show’s openings and closings were invariably Jerry on stage doing standup that loosely commented on something that would happen or exist in the episode. In season 8, however, the openings switched from Jerry working to Jerry engaged in something that could easily translate into his work, for instance haggling with the owner of a bodega, or humorously arguing over the names of American presidents. This went to the wayside in the final season, season 9, when they stopped working from the “comedian at work” angle and jumped right into the storyline as a more traditional TV show might.

6. I often feel guilty about my so-called arrested development. I’m 28 but still party like I’m 18. I like to have a good time, I like to wrestle, I like crushes and The Cure and Forever 21. I often call myself an Adult Teen. This can be troubling. Maybe I should be better? Maybe I should settle down? This show was a constant reminder that no, it’s fine, I’m fucking fine.

7. You can do anything while watching Seinfeld. I have cooked meals, played with my dog, graded papers, washed dishes, exercised, written lesson plans, had conversations, composed poems, cleaned the house, etc. etc. etc. all while watching Seinfeld.

8. Everyone dressed gross in the 90’s.

9. Nobody in the show drinks? How? Why? You’d think with all the early 90’s unprotected sex they’re having they’d at least be drunk.

10. Whenever I get into a TV show I like to figure out which of my friends is which character. I hang out with a lot of dudes so I was quickly foisted into the Elaine category, but now that I’ve finished the whole series I can confidently say that I am actually the Mr. Kruger of my gang.