Sunday, January 28, 2007

Girls just want to have fun

D and I just finished watching Girls Just Want to Have Fun (yes, it's a movie and not just a song! Liz mentioned it a while back and it sparked my curiosity). I miss the '80s; they were full of fun, goofy movies where everybody wore pink and danced around. This one starred Sarah Jessica Parker and Helen Hunt. D thought SJP's nose looked better then. I agree, but her eyebrows look better now. It is a sad fact that one's nose grows throughout life.

I took melatonin last night because I was teaching early this morning, and I dreamed that Jim from The Office was pursuing me. Maybe I should take melatonin more often ;)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I can't sleep...again. It would be nice if I had fascinating thoughts while trying to get to sleep, but nope. Just lying there with energy coursing through my body. I'm a night owl through and through.

El Nino has apparently gone south or something, for it was -5 tonight. D and I went to a nearby Irish pub because he loves to go out on Friday and Saturday nights. Something about the pub made me feel old, maybe the blaring music, maybe the Dave Matthews in the background. 40 is only 9 years away. It's frightening.

Had a meeting with my writing friend M on Wednesday. She gave up American Idol for it...I was touched. Maybe she has Tivo? I've never seen the show, myself, but Carpe tells me it was a 2-hour extravaganza on Wednesday night. Anyway, I changed the venue of the meeting from the Irish pub to a French cafe, and I'm glad I did. The pub is incredibly loud, whereas the cafe is perfect. And has the best French toast in the world. (I had it for dinner.)

Am currently obsessed with Sarah Dessen. Technically, her books are for young adults, but they're deeper and more nuanced than most. Here's how I would grade them:

That Summer - B
Someone Like You - A
Keeping the Moon - A
Dreamland - not yet read
The Truth About Forever - A
This Lullaby - A
Just Listen - B

And thanks for all your comments on my last entry. I never realized how wild a bachelorette party could be :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Photo day

Today, D and I took a trip to Brooklyn. I brought my camera because I wanted to immortalize my Brooklyn cat on film. But then I saw a bunch of other interesting sights (for example, a Christmas tree bedecked in popcorn and Froot Loops).

Here is the chickpea burger I consumed at Dumont Burger. It was preceded by butternut squash soup, which was lovely.

This is a dachshund I met on the way to pat my cat. It had a charming face, but it didn't stay still long enough for me to capture it. I know you admire its red-and-white striped sweater.

This cake must be for a bachelorette party. They had a bachelor cake, too, but it was a little indecent (see-through nightie).

Rainer and me. Rainer is named after Rainer Maria Rilke or Fassbinder (Vossbinder?) according to the nice, earnest owner.

Another shot of Rainer. I like how he rests his paw on my boot.

And finally, a vampiric invitation on the subway:

Zen Palate and a found song

We went to Zen Palate with AT tonight. In its own quiet way, Zen Palate is one of my favorite restaurants in NYC. D blasphemously claims that San Fran restaurants are better than New York's, but I think San Fran lacks good middle-of-the-road restaurants. It has great high-end restaurants (Millennium; a Greek restaurant called Kakkori Estiatoria or something similar; Chez Panisse in nearby Berkeley), but if you don't want to spend a small fortune, you're stuck eating at an Indian restaurant whose menu features male goat brain. (I guess the female brain is not as tasty.)

At Zen Palate, I like to get the veggie loaf with spaghetti; the veggie loaf is similar to meatballs but much better. For dessert, D got a vegan chocolate raspberry cake, while AT and I both opted for banana pie. The cake was delicious.

Also, I added Scotland, PA to my lengthy Netflix queue (about 400 movies) based on AT's recommendation. What could be wrong with a Macbeth retelling set at a fast-food restaurant?

And finally, I've been looking for a certain song for a while. I heard it playing at Crunch and was able to understand the lyrics more clearly. This renewed my determination :) I put the lyrics into a search engine, and this time I was able to find the song and download it to my iPod! It's "Self-Control" by Laura Branigan.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Cravings

We had dinner with M&M at Chola. Their first child is due to arrive on Feb. 3. (As a side note, we know four pregnant women, including her, who are all due in February. There must have been something in the water in May.)

Anyway, M was telling us that pregnancy normalizes his wife's appetite.

M: She used to...

M (covering his mouth): Don't tell them!

M: She would hold Cheerios in her hand and run tap water on them, and then mush them...

M: I didn't mush them. I just like them...a little soggy.

M: And then she'd add salt and pepper.

D: Would she add milk to the damp Cheerios?

M: Only when she's pregnant.

So what does she crave now? Birthday cake. Pretty normal, huh? And it doesn't have to be linked to someone's birthday. Any layer cake with frosting is fine.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Adventures in swimming

So the Crunch pool reopened today (or a couple days before)...yay! I had missed its bathwater warmth. It took a little vacation over the holidays, and then it was extended. But now it is back in use.

I tried blowing bubbles in the pool today while I swam, and though I didn't submerge my face entirely, I did dip my head and blow bubbles on the exhale. Progress. Of course, my mouth was stinging from all the chlorine that seeped in. But I enjoyed it anyway. After swimming, I relaxed in the hot tub, which felt really good, though I missed the friendly, gold-chain gay man and middle-aged photojournalist who are my usual hot tub companions. I guess they only go during the week.

We went to Candela with DG last night. I liked my salad special, which was arugula with orange vinaigrette, roasted beets (nestled at the bottom), and crispy vegetarian spring rolls, which I shared with the Others. (My friend Carpe and I always spell "others" with a capital O.)

The real highlight of the evening, though, was hot chocolate afterward. We went to Michel Cluizel, which you have to go through a loud, throbbing tapas bar to enter. I might have enjoyed that kind of thing in college, but it seemed like it was trying too hard and self-consciously trendy. The chocolate place, however, is perfect (except for fluorescent interrogation lights in their chocolate cases). The cocoa is liquid pleasure.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Red Bull

I'm waiting for D at his office, and noticed that his employee/friend MF left an empty can of Red Bull in his cube. Here are the (mostly) scary ingredients:

Carbonated water, sucrose, glucose, sodium citrate, taurine (this is derived from a bull in some way), glucuronolactone, caffeine, inositol, niacinamide, calcium-pantothenate, pryidoxine HCL, vitamin B12, natural and artificial flavors, colors.

I read once that "natural and artificial flavors" are proprietary, meaning that the manufacturer doesn't have to tell you exactly what they are.

I've never taken Red Bull, but I know that Britney used to blame her more scantily-clad shots on it ("I would never have done that, but I drank like, 10 cans of Red Bull" -- an excuse she is no longer using), and that one of D's former employees drank a Red Bull martini or something like that, and promptly passed out on the floor.

In other news, I taught a regular class yesterday and also subbed. I sub there fairly often -- enough for me to know a lot about the receptionist. She used to be a stripper, and has myriad health complaints:

thyroid (underactive)
tooth (needs a root canal)
ankle (sprained and makes cracking sounds)
breasts (implants need to be taken out and replaced with smaller ones; they're floating around and almost poking out)

I think she is getting her tooth fixed soon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Yoga reflections

It's funny...whenever I get a new student, someone who has never taken a yoga class before, their biggest difficulty is always the same.

When I say, "Bend your knees and step your left foot back," I can always see the confusion flickering on their face: "Which one is my left?" Then enlightenment comes. I find it endearing. Actually, it was the hardest part of becoming a yoga teacher...did I tell them to step their right foot back before, or their left? (You're supposed to alternate.) Now it's more or less automatic. I can teach a whole class on autopilot now, making adjustments for ability levels. It's surprisingly easy to suss those out. I can tell within five minutes whether ardha chandrasana and headstand (or even shoulderstand) will or won't be happening.

I really enjoy teaching. Even if I'm not in a great mood when I get there, I like seeing the smiling faces of people who are looking forward to decompressing/getting some exercise/preparing for a marathon (everybody's motivation is different), and my own mood is transformed, cheesy as it sounds. I also like teaching new people. Invariably, if they find one part tough, they're good at another pose.

There was a new woman today who was having trouble with the standing poses, but sprang up into tree pose just like that. She came with a friend, who kept saying, "You are so good with her! The first time I took yoga, the teacher? Not so good" and "She is so lucky to have you." Sometimes she coached her friend in another language, and I heard her tell her "aspira" (breathe).

The friend, who knew more English, kept calling me "honey" and promising they'd be back next week. I guess I'll never be scary. I am one of those people whom others call "honey" or "sweetie" right away.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Houseguests

We have houseguests from Saturday till Monday. Here is one of them:

They are not technically houseguests, since they are staying at D's parents' apartment (his parents are in Aruba), but close enough. N (pictured above) belongs to D's high school friend A, who is blind, and his wife, B.

A is in the civil service and multilingual. Both he and his wife are learning Thai in preparation for his next post. They want us to visit them there, but I balked at the 23-hour flight. Ugh. If only one could teleport...

After dinner (we went to the Dish, where the owner surprised us with a free slice of chocolate cake), we watched The Station Agent, another Netflix movie. I think I liked it better than anyone. B set the scenes for her husband, explaining what was going on when the dialogue didn't capture it. She would murmur, "Morning. He is on the sofa." Sometimes she would speak in Spanish; she is from Colombia, where they recently visited.

The movie is about a dwarf who moves to Newfoundland, New Jersey after coming into an inheritance, and how he connects with an artist (Patricia Clarkson, from Pieces of April) and a hot dog vendor (Bobby Cannavale, who used to be on SATC and is always fun). I found Michelle Williams horribly annoying...why would you shriek if you saw a dwarf? Otherwise, a good movie.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The last kiss

So I saw The Last Kiss today. Kim had advised everybody not to see it, but I got it from Netflix anyway because (a) it was free, and (b) I liked Zach Braff's other movie Garden State (although Scrubs jumped the shark a long time ago). It was one depressing movie. It also put me in the odd position of liking the Other Woman (Rachel Bilson) better than the girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett).

Grey's Anatomy is on now. I feel like I've been away from the characters too long. They had on reruns the whole month of December, for Pete's sake. But I shouldn't kvetch because it's back now :)

Another Netflix movie I saw recently was Stardust Memories. It was one of those movies that I liked even more after I saw it (good aftertaste). There's one scene where there's an elephant on a beach.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

So I wrote a blog entry earlier, while Blogger was on the fritz or out dancing in the meadows or whatever it was doing, and then I had a run-in with everyone's favorite librarian. I was the first one in a long line, and there were 2 librarians. One (the nice one) was checking people out, and the other (the evil one) was playing with stacks of books, making sure their edges were even. I thought the evil one said "Next," and proceeded forward.

Evil One: No! I didn't say next. I'm CLEANING! (continues straightening the edges of books)

Me (ruffled): Sorry! (heads back to line)

2 seconds later, in an evil voice:

Evil One: Next.

I hate these stupid power games. Of course, it only occurs to me later to say something like: "Why are you making little towers with your books when there are four people waiting in line?" But I generally don't say things like that unless I'm *really* angry, and it *always* freaks me out when people yell at me.

I wish people would be nicer.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Email and guilty pleasures

I always like receiving emails from my niece, who is 11. Today's missive:

Hi guys! How you doing? I'm over at Dodo's house right now. Happy New Year everyone! Yippie for 2007! How is yoga, Aunt Bearette? How is work, Uncle D? Well, I gotta go! Dodo is taking us to the park!
Love, H

Dodo is her name for my mom (her grandmother). She started calling her that when she was very young and Mom basically reinforced it by asking her, "What's my name?" Then she would say in her little 3-year-old voice, "Dodo," and everyone would laugh. So the name has stuck to this day. H and her brother love the park, which is near my old high school, down the street from the house where I grew up. They told me, "The slides have a lot of information and swear words." When I asked them, "What information?", they said, "Who loves who." I guess that is a succinct description of playground graffiti.

In other news, I realized that everyone probably has iPod guilty pleasures. These are songs that you wouldn't necessarily broadcast that you like (though I'm doing that here). Off the top of my head, mine are:

Photograph - Def Leppard
Dilemma - Nelly & Kelly Rowland (possibly my favorite of all the guilty pleasures :)
Ain't Nuthin' But a G Thang - Dr. Dre
I Feel For You - Chaka Khan
Ain't Nobody - Chaka Khan

What are yours? Don't be shy.

And, to continue the fascinating skin care thread, I've finally stumbled upon 2 great products - Jason Red Elements Gently Cleansing Gel (normal to oily) and Jason Red Elements Calming Toner (all skin types). In conjunction, they rock!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Fung Wah, skin care and Parker Posey

My mother is dead set against the Fung Wah bus. She emails me articles on a regular basis detailing how they explode, crash and blow up. She has convinced me not to take the bus.

D tells me, according to the New York Times, there is a trend toward minimalism in skin care. "You do this already," he told me. All you need, says the article, is moisturizer and sunblock. I would add cleanser. I used to use St. Ives Clear Pore Cleanser, recommended to me by my friend Carpe, but it has disappeared from the tristate area. Fortunately, Aveeno's Calming Foaming Cleanser (stuff that foams is so fun!) is even better.

My mother got us a 5-month free subscription to Netflix, so we are busy renting everything under the sun. Tonight we saw The Oh in Ohio, a Parker Posey flick. It's about a woman who can't go to her happy place, and it was fun, surprisingly romantic and cute. It's the kind of movie you'd think you wouldn't want Danny DeVito remotely involved in, but it works.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Aversion to cardio

I've developed an aversion to cardio. I don't know how I logged in so many hours on the treadmill, Precor, rowing machine, etc. in the past. I can't stomach the gym now...with a couple exceptions.

Pilates. I show up reliably once or twice a week for Pilates with my very favorite teacher. She is occasionally snide, which makes me laugh. I can't remember exactly what she said, but the gist of it was a bunch of people would bombard the class after New Year's, and she ended with, "Don't worry, they'll be gone soon." She also noticed that I had a different book each class, so I worried she might think I was a speed-reading freak. Then she said, "I read really fast too," and I asked her what she liked to read, and she said, "Stuff like that," pointing to my book. Instant bond. If she ever stopped teaching, I would cry. A lot.

Swimming. For some reason I always share the hot tub with the same man (a chatty gay fellow with a gold chain around his neck) and woman (a middle-aged photojournalist). They like to talk about Sudoko, yoga and stuff like that. I guess they just swim the same time I do. They closed the pool for a Christmas siesta, but it should be open again now. Note: swimming is a little embarrassing for me because I refuse to put my face underwater unless I'm plugging my nose shut. This leads to offers from the lifeguard: "I'll show you how to blow bubbles!" I know how to blow bubbles, but it still doesn't make me comfortable going underwater without closing my nose. End of story.

Yoga. This doesn't count as a gym activity because I do it at home (and when I teach).

Anybody else averse to cardio?

In a related note, I saw an MSN headline that said fainting dieters are causing delays on the NYC subways. Take it easy, folks.

Monday, January 01, 2007

2007 has descended

We went out for Indian food at Brick Lane Curry House with our brethren (well, not literally). AT surprised us all by eating the Phaal Curry. Described on the menu with the words sweat and pain, the curry is so hard to finish that a free beer is awarded for it. AT downed the whole thing, even though his eyes watered at one point. In fact, he was such a completist that he ate the chile pepper at the bottom...even though the staff told him he had already won the prize. Once he sends in a jpeg of himself, his picture will be included on their website in the Phaal Curry Hall of Fame. Pretty cool, huh? His prize was a free glass of Kingfisher beer.

Afterward we walked back to the apartment. There weren't too many revelers on the street, though there were the usual groups of women in open-toed high heels. (It's winter, people!) At the apartment, D inflated our snowman, propped it up in the living room, and my sister-in-law, A, asked us to reflect on the highlight of our year. I had to say The Place, because the food was so darn good.

After the ball dropped, we watched an episode of Seinfeld and an episode of Coupling, which helped dispel the weirdness of a new year. The musical acts on the New Year's shows are always awful. The Coupling episode was about Jeff lying to a woman, saying he had only one leg...worth watching if you are a fan of the show.