Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Post-Crisis, Pre-Thirty

Dear Blogging Community Who Patiently Deals With My Oft-Sporadic Posts,

I'm giving you a fair warning.

December is going to be batsh*t crazy.

I looked at my calendar for the month of December, and there are TWO (yes, TWO) days where I have absolutely nothing planned.

And I already turned down a housewarming, a Christmas party, a baby shower, and plans with my own mother because I was starting to feel crazed.

I'm grateful for the busy-ness, of course, and most everything planned is fun. Some is not so much "not fun" as it is sort of "chore-like;" but awesome chores like, "Get international driver's license." That's a pretty sweet chore to have on your list, don'tcha think?

Last night, I had the opportunity to watch the "Monumental Occasion" 40th lighting of the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon from the newly-erected roof balcony of the building where Donna's used to be before the terrible fire last year. A friend of mine from high school (who is basically awesome) scored invites for herself, The Gentleman, and me. Open bar, catering by Donna's, heaters keeping us all warm, and the best view of the monument in town. Not only that, it was fascinating to be inside the building where they are now renovating so Donna's can reopen post-fire. It's such an old, beautiful building and was thankfully saved from complete destruction. Because this friend is an architecture nerd, we got to learn a lot about the interior of the building and the plans for its future. Also awesome.

In catching up with this friend, she told me that she reads Ye Olde Blog religiously, and how the content change over the years has made her feel like there's a sense of watching transformation. That meant a lot to me.

Three years ago, I was lamenting boy drama and crying about my future onto this blog. Which made it highly readable (and now, highly embarrassing...kind of like having your high school diary published in the yearbook). Now, the high highs and low lows of life seem to have evened out a bit more into a general sense of happiness about life, my blogging gets kind of sporadic.

I once had a guy I dated ask me if I was ever happy (I guess he meant content), would I stop finding things to write about? I guess I like to think that in my happiness, it's not so much that I don't have anything to write about, it's just that I have different things to write about. It's not about failed relationships, career mishaps, and the rocky life of a twentysomething feeling like the victim all the time.

What is this about? Well, I'm still the same emotional, highly neurotic person I always was, my life is just ten times better now. I still cry senselessly in public, embarrassing The Gentleman, and I certainly still do stupid things, like getting a hot stone massage while hungover and sunburned in Vegas.

If there's one thing I could say to the earlier me, to the me that was in years past, it would be this: you will become exactly the person you want to be, for better or worse. You'll make decisions you never thought you'd make, you'll wind up living a life you thought you couldn't have here or now or in the here and now, and above all- you will reclaim that unquenchable thirst for life that drives you to rebuild houses in post-Katrina New Orleans and snorkel with sharks in the Keys. And run a half marathon. And sign up for another.

It's not really a blog about the quarter life crisis anymore (especially because I'm six months away from 30, so damn well better not be!), or about awkward dates and failed jobs, and started and stalled careers. There's nothing to say it won't revert back to any of these things at any time, because - let's face it - the economy means no one's job is safe and I still stare quizzically at The Gentleman trying to figure out where along the line I got so lucky as to land this guy. But it's more than that now. Somewhere in there, when the drama of things that seemed so huge at the time began to fade away and I made decisions that made me feel confident, my real life began. The one I thought I was meant to be living a long time ago. The one it took many twisted paths to find. I think that feeling is universal to anyone who's tripped and stumbled and somehow regained footing. I certainly don't feel like my experience was unique in any way. I'm just the one who wrote about it publicly.

And now my days are filled with running, with working my ass off at a non-profit where I hungrily devour new projects that require me to do things like learn web design and write grants, eating and drinking my way around Baltimore, watching American Horror Story (amazeballs!), planning our trip to Amman and Istanbul, laughing with Book Club and good friends, and spending time with the best guy I have ever been lucky enough to meet.

So yeah, a lot of things have changed. Damn well for the better.

And now, onto December. READYSETGO!

I Was Told There Would Be Nudity....

Um, of course my friends and I went to see "Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I". We've seen all of them.

We picked a random Tuesday night, which was perfect, because the sparse audience was entirely comprised of women far too old to be excited about a 'tween movie. Women drinking copiously. (Because we only frequent movie theaters that serve alcohol. Duh.)

It meant that our raucous laughter and running commentary wasn't ssssshhhhhh'd by legions of teen Twihards desperate for their first glimpse of a sexual act between the newly-married Bella and Edward. (What good kids they are - NO PREMARITAL SEX HERE!) It meant that we could snort with laughter every time the awkward-looking Jasper graced the scene. Seriously - casting fail. I truly believe that they originally cast him on a whim, realized far too late into it that he spends every scene looking as though someone inserted a broomstick up into his posterior, and then realized they were stuck with him for the entirety of the series, because while it seems you can swap out lesser actors at whim, the primary player should probably remain the same in a movie series. Harry Potter's Dumbledore notwithstanding, obvs. (Spell check just told me that I misspelled "Dumbledor." Congrats J.K. Rowling - your made-up names have infiltrated Microsoft spell check. You truly do own a good chunk of the world.)

The best part was, not only did we have a good, rowdy group of girls, but we brought along our friend, Joel, who had not seen any of the movies nor, to my knowledge, read the books. To come into the series at the fourth movie was brave of him, but he was helped along by the delicious Landmark rendition of a Dark 'n Stormy. And, of course, our witty commentary, which always includes a running debate on just how much Taylor Lautner resembles an alpaca. (Fact.)

Anyhoodle, it's nice to know that although my friends are all embarking on new milestones in their lives as we face the #dirtythirty, we can still rustle up some fun on a Tuesday night at the movies. But only theaters that serve alcohol. And only at movies aimed at the 13-21 demographic. Really, they're movies made for us.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tamales, Por Favor?

We had a very multicultural Thanksgiving this year.

My mom, as per us', made the stock favorites of the feast - turkey, stuffing, taters, roasted carrots, biscuits, and gravy. A family friend brought the green bean casserole and some incredibly delicious caramelized onions. I made my favorite Thanksgiving dish - scalloped oysters. The original recipe that we use every year comes from the New York Times cookbook, but this is an identical rendition.

My Polish roommate made pierogis. And I mean, she made the dough and filling from scratch, rolled and cut out a million circles, filled and carefully pressed each one closed. At 1pm yesterday, about an hour and a half before we were due to leave for Annapolis, she asked if 67 pierogis would be enough for the ten people coming to dinner. Um, yes.

Lemme tell you, those things were beyond delicious. She parboiled them at our house first, and then cooked them in oil with sauteed onion. For dough stuffed with potatoes and cheese and fried in oil, they were remarkably light and incredibly savory. I saw the recipe she was using, but I am going to have to get a translation as the whole thing was in Polish, and I couldn't even come close to approximating a translation on that.

My BF is from New Mexico, and last week when we'd been talking about what to bring to my parents' for dinner, he'd mentioned that tamales are a New Mexican staple for holiday feasts. I did a little online research and found that Michelle's Cafe on Eastern Avenue was voted one of the best places in Baltimore for tamales. So yesterday, before heading down to Annapolis for dinner, I surprised him by taking him to Michelle's to order a bunch of tamales. Unfortunately, what I did not count on was Michelle's being out of tamales at one in the afternoon. One of the servers there spoke a little bit of English, and we managed to communicate the question of where in the near vicinity might not be out of tamales at 1pm on Thanksgiving Day. They directed us to a place that was either a couple of blocks away, or possibly somewhere in Baltimore County; the instructions were a bit vague.

What wound up happening was that we tromped down Eastern Avenue until we found a place that was open, that had a Spanish name on the outside, and advertised tortillas, tamales, and some inexplicably well-endowed Latinas in thongs on the front door.

It was like one of those moments in movies when you see the bourgeois (read: boo-jhee) white couple walk into the bar full of hombres who all stop shooting pool and drinking cervezas to stare. Perhaps the music even scratched to a halt for a moment. Oh wait - it wasn't a movie - this is exactly what happened.

We struck out on any English speakers in this joint, but managed to point at the menu and make gestures indicating our wish to carry out the tamales. We ordered black bean, chicken, and some mystery tamale that involved cream. And then we sat at the bar and enjoyed the most surreal twenty five minute wait I've ever had on Thanksgiving.

The joint was complete with a mural of Mexican farm land on one side, and flashing neon lights framing a giant mirror behind the bar. Incredibly loud Spanish* renditions of pop songs blared on the sound system, and every TV was tuned to some sort of Telemundo-type channel that showed incredibly beautiful and heavily-made up women, and men so handsome they made your eyes ache to look at them. Gaudy Christmas decorations jauntily hung about the room, and I almost had to wonder if perhaps they were not so much for seasonal joy but permanent fixtures. The men drank Coronas with lime and salt, and the only two women in the bar were the bartenders.

My boyfriend pointed out the inexplicable array of liquor stock. Gallons of creme de cacao, handles of Malibu, Dekuyper in Technicolor blues and greens, brandy of every thinkable flavor, and not a pure vodka or gin in sight.

To say that we were out of place is a gross exaggeration. But after a few moments of questioning and blatant stares, everyone returned to their billiards, gossiping, and beer drinking.

It took almost half an hour, but we finally walked out with a steaming tray of the most delicious tamales I've ever had. Seasoned chicken tucked into sweet pillows of corn meal wrapped in husks, with a savory sweet cream dipping sauce on the side. I'm not gonna lie - I am half tempted to return to this restaurant. Preferably on Wednesday nights, when they apparently feature a DJ - karaoke - dance contest night. I wonder if this is when the advertised bethonged girls make their appearance?

I wish I could tell you the name of this restaurant on Eastern Avenue, but I can't for the life of me remember. It has a white, red, and green striped awning and is somewhere between Broadway and Ann. That's about all I know. It's possible the place didn't even have a name.

Boyfriend tells me that these tamales were not quite as good as the New Mexico favorites he grew up with, but perhaps we need to go back to Michelle's for a competitive taste test to discern if in fact they are deserving of a "Best of Baltimore" title.

Dinner was exquisite, the conversation lively, and everything delicious. Both of my new roommates seemed to have a good time, and my family was open and welcoming. Sharing traditions and heritages was a great experience, made all the more exciting by the fact that this was my Polish roommates first Thanksgiving feast ever. In her toast at the start of dinner, she thanked everyone for helping to make this memory so special for her, and she said that being with my family was the first time she'd felt at home since moving to the States in August. Living far away from home is challenging and exciting, but sometimes all you want is a dinner surrounded by friends and family, celebrating old traditions.

And, you know, hanging out on Thanksgiving in a Mexican bar on Eastern Avenue waiting for delicious tamales.

I consider this practice for spending Christmas in the Middle East.

*My apologies to the Español-speaking community - I have little frame of knowledge for Hispanic vs Latino/a vs Spanish vs Mexican, and so it's entirely possible I have falsely thrown around terms here. This is an error of ignorance. Correct away, por favor.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Isn't she beautiful?

Every year, my best buddy, The Canadian/Lebanese, has a Thanksgiving Feast to end all feasts.

(It should also be known that The Canadian/Lebanese presently kind of hates me with a sort of fiery passion for setting an embarrassing photo composition of him as the trivia's Facebook profile photo. But that's a story for another time.)

Anyhoodle, this year The Canadian/Lebanese had to top last year's feast which was constructed to top the feast from the year before. In 2009, he constructed a beautiful Turducken. In 2010, to raise the bar, he made a Turduckgoopheasantchicken thing that was a complicated and beautiful creation made of six (or was it seven?) different birds. For 2011, it seemed there was no way to top this culinary monstrosity, short of combining emperor penguin and the oft-thought extinct but terrifically delicious dodo inside of an albino unicorn.

Instead, he went whole hog.

See what I did there?

You're welcome.

I digress.

There was a turkey and a chicken inside of that beautiful pig, and just to make the atmosphere merry and bright, he played Babe and Charlotte's Web. It was a magical night.

On Sunday was the BF's annual Thanksgiving with his roommates/coworkers which involved turkey, ham, corn, green bean casserole, ahi tuna, yams, mashed potatoes, three different kinds of pie, a case of wine, and, of course, vodka. Once we'd all eaten to disgusting excess (the very day after eating turkey-chicken-pig, mind you), we sprawled out like beached whales to watch a seasonal MST3K favorite, Santa Claus.

A weekend just doesn't get more merry and bright than that, eh?

Tonight, we have a delicious and boozy night out on the town scheduled to celebrate the recent Doctoring of Hot Curry. This isn't some inference of Frankensteining; Hot Curry successfully defended her thesis this week and is now officially Smart. Dinner, I believe, will involve Peter's Inn followed by nightcaps at Birds of a Feather. Because obviously what you need the night before the biggest feast of the year is a delicious dinner.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving dinner with the BF at my parents, which I am hoping will involve oysters (more on that later), to be shared with some family friends and my two roommates who are Thanksgiving orphans this year.

And, of course, the obligatory gratitude spiel:

If there is anything I have learned in the past few years, it's that you cannot take anything for granted, that gratitude is a daily practice, and that you are owed nothing and but can find just about anything when circumstances are right. We are all born into ideas, plans, classes, and bodies that are riddled with limitations. Your fight is no different from anyone else's in the sense that we're all here to survive one way or another, but disparity is grossly huge and ignorance is soul-shattering. While every person may be born good, people have the potential to become grossly un-good; sometimes even evil. There are bad people in the world who want to do bad things, and there are good people who haven't a clue how to be good because they've never been given a chance. If you have a single moment to speak up, to right a wrong, to do something that makes someone else's life a little bit easier, there are no guarantees that an exact karmic scale will tip back in your favor, but it does create the hope that at a point in time when you need help, perhaps someone will be there. Good doesn't begat more good, it begats hope. Which might be the better.

Let's not discuss the poor, innocent pig pictured here. I may be struggling through my battle of trying to be a benign force in this world, but you dangle some delicious turkey-chicken-pork in front of me and all bets are off.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

That's a Man's Drink

Can I just say that I have had bison tartare twice in the last 48 hours, and that I am completely happy that this is fact?

This fall, I am all about old-school meals and men's drinks.

The BF and I hit up the bar at the spanking new Four Seasons Hotel on Thursday night (and wound up there last night as well, but who's counting?), and I am now a huge fan of Wit & Wisdom.

I'm loving this trend of what I call Woodsman's Drinks, which is any cocktail with a bourbon or scotch base and some sort of sweet-bitter component. Wit & Wisdom boasts a colorful drink menu with a bevy of such goods. My favorite, thus far, is their Corn Oil cocktail which consists of a rum so aged it drinks like a scotch, port, and bitters. Delish.

We tried the bison tartare, which is made with some sort of quinoa-type heirloom grain that they resurrected from near-extinction with the help of a local farm. They were quite proud of this fact, and it is undeniably delicious, but some part of me couldn't help but roll my eyes at the bourge-ness of it all. We have starving people all over the world, and this is the future of farming science - bringing defunct grains back from near-death to sprinkle in a tartare patty at a hotel restaurant and charge $19 for the appetizer. Every now and then, the guilt that accompanies my implicit lean towards crunchy rubs up against my insatiable penchant for adventurous (read: expensive) eating and drinking habits.

Last night, the BF and a group of friends went to B&O Brasserie for cocktails and dinner, and once again found ourselves enjoying some bison tartare, this time accompanied with a fried quail egg and some carpaccio. I tell you, if there's one food item in the world I might possibly love as much as sushi, it's tartare. Ahi tuna, bison, lamb....there's nothing better than a delicious and tender cut of meat eaten raw and accompanied with some good spices. Lebanese Taverna has one of my favorite treats - the lamb tartare - which they serve with top-quality olive oil, sweet onions, garlic, mint, and some sort of incredibly rich and sweet butter. Many's the time that I have gone there and just had that as my entree. With a spicy hummus dish too, of course.

So in addition to the bison tartare last night, I also enjoyed an incredible mushroom ravioli dish and a beet salad. Beets and goat cheese are a favored combo of mine, and this fall I've been hooked on the trend of seasonal veggies in ravioli. Salt had an incredible pumpkin ravioli when we were there a few weeks ago (and Shafly's pumpkin ale on tap, which is probably the only pumpkin ale I've tried that can compete with Dogfish Head's Punk'n), and B&O's mushroom version did not disappoint.

Before dinner last, night, I tried B&O's Manhattan, which is made with port and bitters as opposed to the usual vermouth sweet backing. It was incredible, and strong, which prompted one of my friends to comment, "Now that is a man's drink."

Mmmm. Men's drinks for ladies. I'm loving it.

Root vegetables, hearty cocktails served up, and bison tartare. Fall is awesome.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Birthday

My mom's 60th birthday party was last night, and the affair was delicious, well-attended, and punch-y. Specifically, Fish House Punch-y. My aunt discovered that this Mad Men-era drink debuted in 1951, the year my mother was born. And, lemme tell you, while I am not a punch person per say; having abandoned all want for drinking large batches of sticky-sweet libations after an ill-fated jungle juice experience in college; this drink is nothing short of delicious. None too sweet, and lacking the cloying factor of most punches, this drink lives up to its name with the punch it packs.

The party was fantastic, and it was great to see so many people turn out to celebrate my mom's milestone birthday. Lots of family and old friends. A time for remembering the past and being thankful for birthdays; in her remarks right before she cut the cake, my mom said that while she can't believe she's turning 60, she's thankful for every birthday she's ever had because, hey, it beats the alternative.

Does it ever. My dad turned 60 two years ago in the midst of Snowmageddon, my mom is now entering this new decade, and I remember that I'm about six months away from leaving my twenties behind. I've had a number of friends already cross the threshold to the dirty thirty, and the process has seemed to afford mixed reviews. Some take it in stride, figuring nothing's really changed from 29 to 30 except what you punch into the treadmill at the gym. Some feel weighed down by the passing of time, perhaps even a few regrets about how that time might have been spent. But, for the most part, I think turning 30 is vastly different from turning 60, mostly because you're not yet realizing that the alternative becomes more and more apparent as you get older.

Turning 30 is fraught with social obligations and expectations, and a time to take stock of what your adult life is really going to look like. But turning 60 has afforded years of experience, and with that experience comes loss. Turning 60 is a time of gratitude and enjoyment, even if it's coupled with a little bit of disbelief. I think there's a learning experience in that.

I've never had any problems with my age, but I'll admit that I have some trepidation about 30. It just feels big. But my mom reminds me that it doesn't have to be - and isn't - bad. Change is good. And, quite frankly, there's a lot of things I'm not too upset to leave behind with my twenties.

Instead of focusing on what I don't have, or what hasn't happened, I think there's an opportunity here to celebrate, and to wish for the vain and spectacular hope that there will be many more big milestone birthdays to celebrate. Because how fantastic would it be to be 60, surrounded by family and friends who love you, who are present, who are celebrating your life with you?

Happy Birthday, Mom. Your grace in turning 60 is something to which I aspire. And when you turn 70, and 80, and 90, I only hope that we make bigger and bigger batches of Fish House Punch to celebrate.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


مغامرة - adventure (n.) an exciting or very unusual experience

In an exciting new twist, complete and total randomness has brought into my life yet another awesome adventure.

My boyfriend is not from Maryland, and with the holidays looming there was that awkward shuffle of trying to figure out what, exactly, was going to happen with everyone. His parents were hemming and hawing about what to do for Christmas, my parents haven't gotten beyond my mom's upcoming 60th birthday party to even think about the holidays yet, and so I really wasn't sure what all was going on.

When you've been dating someone for any length of time, the holidays are difficult to navigate. Too early in the relationship, and the expectations can feel like pressure. Far enough into the relationship, you begin the tricky calculations of how to spend time with both families. It gets further complicated if your significant other has family in another part of the country.

And then, just to throw a wrench in things, BF's parents decided to go to Amman, Jordan for Christmas to visit his brother, who is living there for a year on a post-college fellowship.

Because nothing says "holidays" like the Middle East.

What I didn't expect was this: BF asked me if I wanted to go.

My answer was immediate: HELL YES.

First off, I am a travelaholic. I love nothing more than planning a trip, packing, and going places I've never been before. The Middle East was definitely on my list of places I want to visit, and while I didn't know that much about Amman before a few weeks ago, the more I read, the more excited I get.

I was worried about breaking the news to my parents that not only would I not be home for Christmas, I'd be traveling abroad. But I needn't have stressed. They were absolutely supportive and excited. It will be strange not to spend Christmas with them this year, but we do at least get to see them for Thanksgiving.

It will be slightly awkward to meet BF's parents for the first time in another country after about 24 straight hours of travel and what is bound to be some severe jet lag. But, hey. It's the holidays!

Even more awesome - we scheduled a one day layover in Istanbul on the way there. So I can cross Turkey off my list of countries visited as well.

My Christmas wish this year is to ride a camel. And browse at Books@Cafe. And have a drink at any one (or all) of these fine establishments.

Not only that, but I get to do all of these things with the best travel partner I've ever had. We conquered Philadelphia, DC, New York, and Key West. Now it's time to take this show abroad.

40 days and counting. Expect some epic pictures.

The Dinner Party

First dinner party at New House last night. Bittersweet, though, as it's the last dinner party with Lee and Hot Curry before they move to FREAKING UTAH. Homemade black bean dip, Whole Foods-made guacamole and Mediterranean lentil soup, crab quesadillas, a salad from the Polish roommate, wine and beer courtesy Josh, and a freaking incredible cranberry pear crumble from Hot Curry. Great conversations about the biological necessity of nipples on men, Joe Paterno, Justin Bieber, European dialects, Indian phrases, small pox, and a bevy of other titillating subjects. I do so love me a good dinner party. Especially on a Wednesday night.

To say that I will miss Lee and Hot Curry is an understatement. Lee was one of the first friends I made here in Baltimore, he landed me my first freelancing gig, and he helped me navigate that terrible summer when we lost our jobs due to fire and my boyfriend of four years and I called it quits. (Subsequently, Lee's was the shoulder I cried on during the years of terrible break ups, where he had the grace and patience to say soothing things and not, "Good. That guy was a jerk anyway," which would have been well within the realm of fact.)

I brought Lee to a party a couple of years ago with the express purpose of aiding another friend in introducing him to her roommate, Hot Curry, who is now his fiance. And she is one of my favorite gossip girls, and the one who will drink Lee under the table with me.

Thankfully, we have a few weeks left before they depart. During which time we have to hit up the Explorer Bar and Birds of a Feather. More on those later. And then there's the wedding to look forward to, in April.

Still, I can't help but look around me and see how much has changed in the last four years. Friends moving away, getting engaged, getting married, having babies, getting promotions, new careers, new degrees.

It's pretty sweet to be able to watch someone about to head off on the expedition of a lifetime - primarily Salt Lake City, but also, oh you know, MARRIAGE - and say, "I remember when we drank a bottle of Malibu and you ran down the streets of Baltimore barefoot in your pajamas." Because that happened. And it was glorious.

The Last Dinner Party Menu:

Easiest Bean Dip
(This makes a hell of a lot of bean dip. For fewer than 8 people, I'd halve the recipe. Unless you want delicious leftovers - which I have, and am now overjoyed. So maybe be greedy and don't halve it.)

2 cans black beans
4 TBS chopped cilantro
2 cups hot salsa
cumin to taste
salt and pepper to taste
4 TBS lime juice

Throw it all in a blender or food processor. Transfer to bowl. Or don't and just eat it out of the blender. It's delicious either way.

Goodbye Maryland Crab Quesadillas (via Eating Well)
This feeds 4 people. I doubled it for 6, and all that was left at the end were two lonely tiny triangles that Lee and Hot Curry took home.
  • 1 cup shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese (I used regular full-fat, because it melts better)
  • 2 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapenos, (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 8 ounces pasteurized crabmeat, drained if necessary
  • 4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided (I used olive oil)
Combine Cheddar, cream cheese, scallions, bell pepper, cilantro, jalapenos (if using), orange zest and juice in a medium bowl. Gently stir in crab. Lay tortillas out on a work surface. Spread one-fourth of the filling on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently to flatten.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 quesadillas in the pan and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 4 wedges.

When Hot Curry sends me the recipe for her incredible cranberry pear crumble, I shall post.

Apologies for the lack of food pictures - I meant to photograph everything and the night got away with me. It could have been all the wine.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Crying Game

We were at dinner at a sushi restaurant, and I could not stop crying.

First off and foremost - I have noticed, in my old age, that I am shall I put this...mellower in general, but much, much, much less mellow...periodically. As in...hormonally periodically. I've heard that PMS tends to get worse as you get older. Or at least, that's what a doctor told me in response to my complaint about periodic crying fits. At which point I cried. Again.

A few months ago, I was facing the prospect of moving. Again. At the time, I didn't know what I was going to do, or even what I wanted to do. I was mainly focused on the idea of boxes, hauling things in and out of rowhouses and a moving truck, and the expenses incurred with moving. AGAIN. The thought of buying more packing tape made me want to hang myself with it. (THAT SHIT IS STRANGELY EXPENSIVE.)

With all of this crap raging around in my head, the BF and I decided to go to a nice dinner to relax and get my mind off of these issues. Which, any other night, would have been an excellent idea. And I can almost always be soothed with sushi.


This turned out to be one of those "I have absolutely no control over my emotions" nights. It started off innocently enough; we sat down to dinner, opened our menus, and BF calmly inquired about my epicurean and alcoholic wishes for the evening and I felt it. That uncontrollable waggle of the lower lip that occurs right before a full-on sobfest. He looked at me inquisitively, and it all just sort of...came out.

The kinder he was, the more I cried. The more sushi we ordered, the more I cried. I could no more stop the ocean of blubbering tears that came out then I could hold up the Hoover Dam. After a bafflingly short period of time, it occurred to me that I was crying so hard because I was crying.

And then things got worse.

BF calmly sat there, sipping his Kirin, waiting for the storm to pass. The staff scurried around us, not wanting to get too close, but also not wanting to miss the show of a girl crying at dinner. It was at this point that the sobbing got out of control when I realized:

"You...are nice to me...and..." I couldn't get the words out. I tried again. "You...everyone here thinks...that you asshole...because I can't stop crying!"

I was wailing at this point.

BF blinked. And then composed himself a microsecond later. "Well," he said, "I guess I hadn't thought of that until you mention it...but...yeah, they probably do." It was an attempt at humor. It made me cry more. Here was this poor guy who just wanted to make me feel better, and I was making him look like a complete jerkface. In my mind, everyone in the restaurant was glaring at him.

"How dare he make her cry like that?! AT DINNER! That poor girl."

I'm pretty sure no one had this thought:

"How dare she keep crying like a jerk, making him look so bad?! AT DINNER! That poor guy."

Although I could be wrong. I sort of hope I'm wrong.

We finished Worst Dinner Ever (which was actually delicious, if not a bit tear-soaked), and I had segued to the hiccupy-slowing-down part of crying where you either need to immediately pop excessive amounts of Ibuprofen or go to bed right away before the migraine sets in. BF decided that the best course of action was a movie, preferably something not too mentally taxing, so that I could just mellow out and be entertained. Secretly, I think he thought he had a better chance of surviving the evening if we were in a dark public space where I would be forced to stifle the sounds of my crying and no one would mistake him for a jerk.

To be fair, after some delicious Dark + Stormies at the theater (they make doubles - thank God) and Contagion (which is absolutely not too mentally taxing yet highly entertaining), we actually wound up having a very pleasant evening. By the end of the night, it was almost forgotten that I had been Crying Girl At Dinner. Almost.

Thankfully, I moved, mostly unscathed, and for the last month or so there have been no more crying fits. At least not ones in public spaces. For that, I'm sure we're all thankful.