Friday, July 11, 2008

The Grandma Council

I promise that if I blog again it will be something longer and more about my life, but right now I'm just really excited about DANO2. I'm especially excited that it has gotten my mom to blog. Anyone who knows her knows that she is an AMAZING pediatrician, and I've been dying to get her to record practical advice for new moms for years now (so if I ever get around to having kids it'll be there for me)...anyway...she's doing it. She's working with my aunt who is a chemist (top of her class at UC Berkeley and then went on to MIT. My family is filled with geniuses in case you were wondering. I am not one of them.) They've formed a brain trust to give new moms guidance and to explain how the toys Daniel is making were created and why the choices were made the way they were. So if you are a new mom or know one, have them check it out. It's sure to be filled with great practical advice from two highly credentialed grandmothers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

DANO2 Designer Toys

So it's summer and as a teacher living in San Diego I should have an incredible tan and have breezed my way through numerous classics (and even more sneaky guilty pleasure reads). But no. I am working on an exciting new project. Daniel, my bro, has started a really cool toy company called DANO2 Designer Toys and it's going to be open for business in a month. As a very small part owner, I feel compelled to stay up late into the night working away. Oh well. It's actually been a lot of fun, and I do love the idea (baby toys out of medical grade plastic) and designs (Daniel is a sweet designer in the urban vinyl world). If anyone is still actually reading this blog, go check out the site (especially if you have kids). .
Have a great day

Monday, March 24, 2008

I heart Easter

I love Easter. Some prefer Christmas with its evergreen hope of a Savior’s birth and myriad gifts from a guy a few days away from a massive coronary. My old roommate loved Halloween in its confront your fears via staring down goblins in paper masks simplicity. My mom loves Thanksgiving. She has always taught others to embrace gratitude as a route to happiness. But me, I love Easter.

And it’s not just because I’m guaranteed a whole basket of chocolates. Mmmmmm… or the only time of the year they sell Peeps, Cadbury eggs, and other candy most my age won’t touch unless they’re hoisting it on an unsuspecting child.

I love Easter because it’s the holiday for those who make mistakes. It doesn’t celebrate the newness of a birth; it celebrates coming back from the dead. Literal and metaphorical. I’ve died quite a few times metaphorically in my life, and, coincidently, those moments involved a LOT of chocolate and marshmellow-y candies, too. It’s waking up alone after losing the job you killed yourself to keep and driving down the 101 with a mug of really good hot chocolate and watching the sunrise not knowing what comes next, and not really caring, but knowing that you’re going to have to rise again at some point. And then managing to rise again somehow. It’s breaking up with the 6th boyfriend with whom you’ve planned an imaginary wedding/life in your head and somehow finding hope again. It’s the rally. It’s the re-birth. The divine do-over. And it comes with chocolate.

I love Easter.

I love Jesus Christ.

I had a lovely Easter yesterday. It involved beautiful music, people I love, tons of chocolate, a snuffleupagus, and even a round of ocean-viewed sunset croquet.

I hope your Easter was just as nice.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

When an old friend dies

Monday morning I rushed in late to work and clicked open my e-mail after the two-minute bell had rung. Unfortunately, I eagerly opened an email from my 3rd-8th grade crush (he's married now to a woman who seems to be quite lovely). One of our childhood friends had passed away suddenly from previously unknown health problems. The bell rang and I sort of stumbled back in front of the class and held up my big neon yellow flashcards and as my students recited the definitions for "verbal irony" and "Dionysian" I remembered how I had bribed Jeff (the one who passed away) with cookies when he went a week without smoking in high school, and how I beat him playing the line game so many times in Geometry I received the worst grade I'd ever gotten. I remembered third grade and how my friend Janelle and I used to debate whether he or his twin brother were cuter. and I remembered how during my first year teaching I broke down in tears when I heard (a few minutes before class began) that one of my other good childhood friends, Kaz, had lost a game of Russian Roulette. I hated it that the death toll of the ten or fifteen guys I was really close to growing up was up to 2. (Almost 20%!)

I didn't cry this time, but the day moved slowly, and I had the sort of selfish existential panic attack that comes when you realize that people your age are done with the game before they ever got married, had kids, or figured out what they really wanted.

I also actually mourned the boy I watched grow up even though it had been years since we'd spoken.

The memorial was Tuesday afternoon on a bluff above the beach where we used to have our birthday parties as kids. A dozen of my first crushes/guys who tugged at my hair when they sat behind me in class/awkward dance partners from cotillion took turns sharing favorite memories of Jeff. They were fatter, balder, and many were sporting dulled wedding bands. I realized how much I loved them all and wanted the best for them even though they weren't a part of my life anymore. There's just something about eating paste together and playing spin the bottle (not at the same time) that bonds people for life. So it was a sad day saying goodbye to the kid we knew, but comforting to know that twenty years later we were all there hovering above the beach of our sixth-grade graduation party in our somber black sharing the dark milestone of selfish existential panic attacks and sincere grief.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The best cheese

Burratta mozzarella (sp?) does for cheese what Chuao does for hot chocolate. I love having my little bro. around; I get to indulge any foodie dreams I have when he's here. Today we ventured off on a quest for Chino Farms veggies (so good I've even seen chic places in New York brag about having them and were mentioned in a London Vogue I picked up when I did my study abroad). It's ten minutes from my house through winding roads draped with eucalyptus. But, alas, it was closed. again. for the third time. It's hours are short, it closes for weeks during the holidays, and was rained out today so to make up for the disappointment, I suggested the new gourmet cheese shop nearby. John has been all through Little Italy in NY, and through tons of gourmet shops looking for Burratta, and has only managed to find one place that sells it so he was pretty skeptical. We tried anyway. Success. We also picked up some truffled salt- a fantastic find- and then we headed out to track down some decent tomatoes at Harvest Ranch Markets (they often buy from Chino farms) and got lucky on an incredible bruise-colored lumpy heirloom tomato (tastes better than it sounds). Add some good olive oil, fresh basil, kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, and it was a little bit o heaven on a rainy afternoon. A hint: let the cheese warm up a bit before serving so it sort of spills all over your tongue with it's milky goodness. It's been a nice day.

Actually, it's been a nice few weeks thanks to my baby bro. The second half of this year has hit lows not rivaled since those unfortunate junior high days, but as the year closed up and a new began again, things have been good. John's right: food made with love can make life so so so much better.

PS- My borscht turned out really really good. I think I may have won the competition.

PPS- Jerry Maguire was on last night. I'd forgotten how much I love that movie.

Friday, January 4, 2008

two days in a row

but the posts won't last. I did, however, spend a little bit of time away from fiction. I got a pretty pink pedicure, had brunch at the Panikin in Encinitas (a funky former railroad station converted to a coffee shop by the beach), had the next in the Monastery soup marathon (tomorrow is my day to contribute. I'm making borscht), went location scouting for cool places around town to take portrait photos with John, and danced with my baby niece, Bella. It was a lovely day. Now it's time to grade.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

I'm writing this while I'm watching Once. I can't stop watching movies. It's like the film gods I've been avoiding for years have caught up to me so after years of devoting my brain-dead-watching-a-box time to tv I'm being dragged into celluloid overload.

John is here from New York and since Momo is in China I get to spend plenty of time with my baby bro. It's nice. But all he wants to do is watch movies. So here I am. I've watched more movies in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years, and I'm thoroughly humbled by the creativity that's out there (granted John is a strict adherent to the Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic guides to life) so National Treasure has not yet made it on the list. Nowhere near it. I'm even having to sneak Once in while he's off making Monastary Mushroom Beer soup. He doesn't like the British. Nor their films. (I also sneaked We are Marshall in last night- I won't even tell you what John thinks about football movies that have garnered a mere 53% approval rating)

but anyway.... this vacation has become two weeks of near equal parts of scrawling on 15 year-old commentaries on Crime and Punishment and movie watching. I have to wonder how many layers back from life I am existing right now. Plato wasn't much of a fan of the arts. He thought making an inaccurate copy of an imperfect life was sort of pathetic. In You've Got Mail (another movie I watched this break on the sly..gotta do something to lift the heavy weights of Eastern Promises, No Country for Old Men, etc.) I was struck by the line she says that was something to the effect of that she keeps thinking that life reminds her of something in a book instead of something in a book reminding her of life. She vaguely supposes that it should be the other way around.

I don't see myself in the movies. I don't see myself in books. Not even TV (although I can find a scene from a Friends episode that will match just about any moment in life.) I think that they're nice pictures and all. I do spend my life in fiction (many may argue in more ways than one) but no matter how high the metacritic rating. It isn't life. Life's so much more. So much harder, and so much better.

Tomorrow's goal: Spend at least four hours totally disconnected from fiction. Find a mini-adventure. Maybe I'll even post the results.

Tonight's goal: Get at least five more essays graded before I go see Sweeney Todd.