Sunday, November 09, 2014

When the Wall Fell

Can it really be 25 years?

I tried to explain to my child why it still blows my mind.

You see, the world used to be in two pieces. There was our side and their side. There was a West Germany and an East Germany. And there were two Berlins. One half was free. The other half wasn't. A wall right down the middle of a city. It was taller than anyone on earth and deeper than you can imagine. The guards on the wall used to shoot people--they shot above our heads--who tried to cross. And then
One day
There were people on the wall
There were people over the wall
And then there wasn't a wall

Eine Deutschland and one world and everything we knew about dropping the bomb or not wasn't anymore.

It still feels like a miracle.

A messy, messy miracle new world that's sometimes scarier now because there aren't any walls where there once was a wall.

We took pieces of that wall and we threw them all over the world, in classrooms and cities, carried away in pockets from Potsdamer Platz and Checkpoint Charlie and to everywhere there wasn't a wall. Because once upon a time it divided the world and then we broke it into a million rocks that had one colored side and one gray side, the bright and the absent, and the world took it back.

Because you can't keep people from people. It won't work no matter how high and long and reinforced.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall.

And that something was us.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

#1 Most Important How-to-Write-Killer-Content Answer

I've been asked how to write content.

This is how it works:

  1. Daft Punk is Playing at My House
    LCD Soundsystem
  2. Cool Kids
  3. Safe with You - Single Mix
    Alex Metric, Jacques Lu Cont
  4. Pumpin Blood - Nox Remix
    NONONO, DJ Nox
  5. A Real Hero
    High Highs
  6. Cheap Sunglasses - Two Friends Remix
    RAC, Matthew Koma
  7. The Best Thing
    Electric Youth
  8. Dream of Bombay
    Viceroy, Chela
  9. Flesh and Bone - Jacques Lu Cont Remix
    The Killers
  10. Silver City
    Hey Champ
  11. El Pito (I'll Never Go Back to Georgia)
    Joe Cuba
  12. A Song That Will Help You Remember
    Slow Dancing Society
  13. Just Another Girl
    The Killers
  14. Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night)
    Neon Trees / Kaskade
  15. Coming of Age
    Foster the People
  16. Grand Prize
    Can't Stop Won't Stop

That is how you write content.

Friday, September 05, 2014

There and Back Again (Spanish Edition)

Should I dye my hair a crazy color? Go on a fasting cleanse? Crawl into bed and pretend I am sick? Put on another layer of very dark liquid eyeliner? The world is my neurotic oyster.

A friend asked me if I am in my post-holiday crash, the one where you feel like throwing your life overboard and going on permanent vacation. Where will the funds come from for this vacation? Who knows, who cares?! I'm on vacation until the money runs out!

(It will run out real fast, Calamity Jane.)

I took my heart, and my nest egg, in my clicking hand and bought tickets to Spain last month. Just me and the children--also my sister and her two children, and perhaps my parents. It was scary (I hate spending money,) and also something I felt like we had to do.

It's been 11 years since my last trip to Spain to see my mother's family. I was pregnant with my oldest at the time and so, so sick. I spent the train ride back to Madrid from Galicia regularly vomiting as the diesel fumes wafted back to smack me in the face. With our family complete, and no more babies, it was time to return to the motherland, no matter what.

Isn't this worth it?

(The view from the kitchen window of the flat we stayed in.)

And also this?

I mean, as far as trips go, Spain will do.

The terrible jet lag there, the brutal jet lag when we returned, it was all worth it. Except maybe the part where I dragged my kids to Spain. 

I hope they remember it when they grow up and praise my name. A 10-year-old, a 7-year-old, and a 3-year-old aren't traveling companions to sneeze at; they are to be managed, cajoled, and forced to experience culture. My parents forced culture on us, it's high time my children also experienced the sore feet, dehydration, and exhaustion that comes from looking at a set of royal china in a royal palace in some European capital. Tradition!

My kids even got off easy. Since it was just me and my sister (and our combined five small children) with only occasional help from my parents, we skipped some of the major cathedrals and attractions. Next time, my pretties, we'll learn about Baroque, Rococo, Neo-Classical, Gothic, Velazquez, Picasso, Matisse, Monet, and El Greco until your feet fall off in the middle of the Prado. How we do.

Now we are back and my life is resting uneasily on my shoulders. Where is my tiny, manual transmission car? Why are the streets here to wide and accommodating? Where is my daily visit to the bakery for fresh bread and pastries? Where is the beach with crystal waters and the sunsets that go on for forever?

Instead I'm back in my real life, with 7:00 am wake-ups, homework every night, dinner and the dishes, demanding work commitments, with terrible Fanta, and absolutely, positively, no beach.

It's no wonder my Jet Set heart pines for more impossible vacations from my real life.

But really, should I dye my hair?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to School at the Road Home

Hello Darlings!

It seems like forever, doesn't it? But I'm back today with a purpose: it's back to school time at the Road Home, Salt Lake City's family homeless shelter. You're probably planning some back to school shopping soon, so maybe you could make a little plan for supporting some homeless children?

I won't tell you about when I did my back to school shopping.

(It was two weeks ago. I'm more organized than I have ever been--if all you are counting are school supplies.)

Last year I brought my kids to the store during Christmas to pick out new toys for the Road Home. It was surprising how they responded to children who don't have a home or wouldn't necessarily receive a present. I worry my kids are too entitled, and you probably have the same worry. Don't get mad at your kids for being entitled, ask them to serve, show them how much they have and how they can give as a way of gratitude in action.

It's time for the Road Home Apple Tree:

The Road Home sent me this information:

"Organizers of The Road Home Apple Tree have added the needs and sizes of 26 new children to Apple Trees at 33 locations along the Wasatch Front and are asking the public to help.
"The Road Home continues to see an increase in the number of children in need,” said Celeste Eggert, director of development at The Road Home. “We have had a 50 percent increase in the children we serve this fiscal year as compared to the five years prior. The Apple Tree Program helps to ensure that all the school age children living at the shelter are given a new outfit and backpack to start the school year." 
Apple Trees are set up at DownEast, Payless ShoeSource, Salt Lake area Staples, Old Navy and Intrepid Hybrid Communications. Donated items, which should be new and unused, can be dropped off at any of the 33 campaign partner locations from Provo to Ogden. At the completion of the campaign, which runs through Aug. 11, clothing and school supplies will be delivered to the Road Home before the school year begins." You can read more about the drive here:

Got that? There are Apple Trees around town, in places where you are probably going to shop anyway, with a child's name and what they need. Join me in picking up an extra backpack, another sweater, and some school supplies. If you're pressed for time, refuse to do any back to school shopping because you hold strong, personal anti-consumeristic principles, or are living with a phobia of fresh school supplies, you could also make a donation.

Additionally, you might know Sue from Navel Gazing, but she also volunteers at the Road Home. She shared that the shelter can often use toy room donations as well. If you get in touch with me, I can put you in touch with her for more information on donating items, like new play-doh and Thomas trains. It's a constant need--a constant need that you and I can fill like it's nothing at all. Let's do more.


Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Latest Controversial Position:

Shamrock shakes are gross. EW.

Monday, March 03, 2014

So Do We Watch the Tonight Show Now?

J turned to me the other night and said, "Wait, do we watch The Tonight Show now?"
"Huh," I responded, "I think we're probably old enough."
"I think this marks a rite of passage."
"I think we're your parents now."

Jimmy Fallon took over The Tonight Show a week or two ago, ending twenty years of not watching The Tonight Show. J was raised with Carson's Tonight Show, while, as we have covered here before, I was raised without television like some sort of feral, godless animal.

Even after my family got a TV, I was never allowed to stay up to watch The Tonight Show, because my parents never watched it (presumably because they were always reading the newest translation of some mid-20th century Russian novelist.) As soon as I was old enough to make the choice to watch The Tonight Show, Carson signed off and Leno took over. The next twenty-two years were filled with, at best, a profoundly mediocre Tonight Show and at worst, the same terrible jokes piled up over and over so as to create a galling Hellscape of depressive humor. I don't think I could watch a single show straight through without wanting to denounce television as a bland tool of cultural oppression and move to translate my own Russian novel.

But I really like Jimmy Fallon. And the Roots? COME ON, it's THE ROOTS. It occurred to me that Jimmy has a lot more in common with Steve Allen, the original Tonight Show host, with his musical talent and easy humor. Jimmy can actually play instruments and hold a note, an asset long absent from late night. Music and musicians are important to him, which I respect. Jimmy isn't just a standup, he does character work, skits, and, of course, competitive games.

We're in for a lot of fun.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Cinnamon Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

I like to create new recipes for the annual cookie swap my friends throw in December. This year I started with the Jacques Torres NYT chocolate chip cookie recipe as a model and then built on it. These cookies feel seasonal with cinnamon and toffee chips, studded with bittersweet chocolate, and a caramel-y dough. This is my way of saying that I will defend my title as Queen of the Cookie to the last crumb.

I love these cookies. The cinnamon in the dough isn't overwhelming, and the three different chips makes the cookie warm, sweet, and just stupid delicious. And wouldn't you know, I WON QUEEN OF THE COOKIE! You could win Queen of the Cookie, too, with this recipe. Unless you want to be King of the Cookie, or Imperator of the Biscotti. I don't want to put a limit on your dreams.

Cinnamon Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies

17 oz Flour (3 2/3 cups)
10 oz Dark brown sugar (1 1/4 cups)
8 oz Granulated sugar (1 cup plus 2 Tbl)
1 ¼ c. Unsalted butter
2 Large eggs
1 ¼ tsp  Baking soda
1 ½ tsp Baking powder
1 ½ tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp Vanilla
1 ½ c Cinnamon chips (abt 1 pkg)
1 1/3 c.Toffee chips (abt 1 pkg)
10 oz. Bittersweet chocolate chips (abt 1 pkg)

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla. Mix all dry ingredients and add slowly until incorporated. Stir in all the chips. Refrigerate at least 24 hours, 36 is even better. Bake 375 for 8-10 minutes until golden. You could also sprinkle them with w/sea salt before cooking, add 1/2 tsp chili or cayenne powder, or 1/2 cup toasted chopped almonds to the dough. Yes, you need to let the dough chill for a day. Something happens to the sugar and the flour when it chills for at least 24 hours, turning the cookie caramel-y, crisp on the edges and gooey in the middle. Trust me.