Fun Thing Eighteen: Sand in Between My Toes

The roommate and I sneaked away from Durham to get some good seafood, catch up with a great friend, and get sand in between our toes and in every crevice, fold and pocket of all of our belongings. 



Fun Thing Seventeen: How to Become a Brazillian Housewife

Step One: Hold an adorable baby.  It's better if it is someone else's so that you can keep your beach body.

Step Two: Crush ice.  Display your fierce resourcefulness by using whatever means is available to you.

Step Three: Muddle limes and sugar. Add ice.  Add cachaça with pride and dignity for your national drink.

Step Four: Sip your caipirinha with a smile. Everyone loves a smile.

Step Five: Abandon the mess in the kitchen for a better time elsewhere. Surely that is someone else's job.

Thanks to Megan for photos 3-5.


Fun Thing Sixteen: Dinner and a Movie

This was my second burger of the day.  That's right. Yesterday was a two-burger kind of day. The polenta burger from Bull City Burger and Brewery was delicious. Nom nom nom.

Movies should always be accompanied by a chocolate bar, especially the kind where everyone dies. Not pointing any fingers (Haaaarreeee Potteh).


Fun Thing Fifteen: Beginnings and Ends

I bike wearing heels and a skirt all of the time, but it isn't everyday that I bike wearing a skirt that I made with my mom. Sewing with my mom is so much better as an adult than as an eight year-old. It was a maiden voyage with this skirt and I think it is going to be a great biking skirt.

Never mind I managed to jab myself in the front-ankle (that's a real body part) with my greasy gears right after this photo. Have we discussed how über-talented I am? You're right. We haven't. Because that wouldn't be fun.

Ending the day with huevos rancheros, a glass of wine, and a few lovely friends calms every nerve. Tell me that stack of egg-y, cheese-y, bean-y, tortilla-y goodness isn't fun.


Fun Thing Thirteen: Christmas in July

Thanks to Tyler for these great photos, Megan for the party inspiration and fuel, and Katie for the never-ending desire to throw a themed party.

These Dreams, They Haunt Me

My dreams startle me awake almost nightly. Not since the Discovery Channel sharks swam around my seven year-old mind has my subconscious haunted me in such vivid and inexplicable ways. The dreams, they come filled with death, with fear, with anger. I’m never the aggressor, not even always the victim, sometimes a passerby of crime, sometimes an investigator, sometimes the falsely accused. They wake me and I lie there, I toss there. My heightened sense of devastation pours out of my subconscious, filling my body and the room, keeping me suspended in disturbed wonderment.

I dream that my eyebrows have become rivals to the Sherwood Forest and I panic. I cannot have Robin Hood’s stomping grounds stamped on my face. I wake up and paw my face in the dark. The forest has disappeared but the memory of irrational fear remains.

I dream that my brother has gone missing, disappeared on a family seaside vacation, not dead for fourteen years. I dream that my family spends years, decades scouring the planet, searching for him, for what happened to him, for relief from the pain. I dream that my dad sits at the kitchen table in the house where I grew up, sobbing. I know it is a dream even as it passes, but when I wake up I wonder which parts are true.

I dream things that I swear I will remember, things that bring me to running sweats and tossing through the night, afraid of my own inner eyelids. Yet when the day finally comes, the only thing that remains is the fear of myself.

In an interview in the August 2011 issue of The Sun Magazine, Marc Ian Barasch says that healing dreams are those with heightened sensory details—jewel tones, vast spaces, complex plots, proverbial voices. He says,
“A healing dream often requires some kind of action[…] We don’t want to sequester these dreams in an ivory tower and look at them as objects of interest. We need to reenact them somehow: draw them, dance them, tell them. When we do this, we make our outer lives more consonant with the inner life of the soul. If you believe that dreams are in service to growth, then you will want to do something—even something small—in response.”
I can’t help but think there is something dying in me. Something in need of cutting off, investigating and excising, plucking out, killing off. I have a shortlist of what these things might be, things that reach deep into my identity. Things whose potential end challenges my self-definition more than I’ve ever been willing to deliberate. 

What will I become if I listen to these dreams?
Who will live in my body and tell my story?
What dreams will wake me if I listen?


This post is part of The Creative Collective, a blogging project with writers and artists of many sorts. Today's theme is "What we might become if..." To read their work, go here. If you are interested in joining The Creative Collective, let me know.


Fun Thing Twelve: Notorious

When I was in college, my roommate and I would exploit the local video rental shop's 3 movies for 3 nights for some ridiculous price. I can't remember if it was $3 or $5, but it was cheap and the only movies you could get were made years ago. On more than one occasion, we rented all Hitchcock films.  Lest you begin to think we were highbrow, we also had all Doris Day weekends.

Notorious was one of my favorites from these exploits. Yesterday I watched it with a group of friends while chomping on these cookies. Any time I get to spend two hours with Cary Grant, I am having fun.


Pillow Talk is my favorite Doris Day movie, in case you were wondering. 


Fun Thing Eleven: Red Hot!

It was so hot yesterday, I didn't leave the house except to collect the mail and water the plants. Instead, I ate the leftovers from the tapas dinner and gave myself a pedicure.

I don't know about you, but of the four or five times I've paid for a pedicure, half of the time I've walked away thinking, "I could do a better job at home." Pedicures, Broadway musicals, and anything related to country music top my "only-if-you're-paying" list.


Fun Thing Ten: Tapas con Amigos!

It's not very hard to get a group of friends to agree to come to your house with the promise of homemade traditional Spanish tapas.

They were an obliging bunch, actually. 

They even helped in the kitchen.


Of course, there were messes.

  And there was a lot of garlic aioli.

And after nearly four hours of eating and drinking, slowly, as the Spanish would have it, there was dessert. None of us had space for it in our stomachs, but we ate it anyway.

For the gastronomically curious: 
The menu:
Homemade bread with Manchego and Iberico cheeses
Gazpacho (cold tomato soup, prepared as was taught to me by my Spanish host mother)
Champiñones al ajillo (mushrooms and garlic)
Ensaladilla rusa (Russian salad--a typical potato salad)
Berenjenas con miel (eggplant with honey)
Patatas bravas (potatoes with a spicy red sauce and garlic aioli)
Tortilla española (potato omelette)
Mousse de limón (lemon mousse)
My favorite wine of the night: Red Guitar's Old Vine Tempranillo Garnacha


Fun Thing Nine: Preparing for Fun Thing Ten

Cooking by myself in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do in the world.  Second only to cooking with my sister.  I don't want to say too much about content of Fun Thing Nine because it will give away the fun of Fun Thing Ten.

So here's a few hints:

Also fun: taking a cooking break to drink a delicious mint julep with a friend.


Fun Thing Seven: Making Music

I got up yesterday morning before the sun did. This sort of behavior should be criminal in any state with any sense, at least during the summer months when the sun needs so little sleep it could be a single parent working three jobs. I barely had time to wipe the crusties out of my eyes before I had to be at the airport to head back to North Carolina.

I went home apprehensively. I needed to be at work by mid-day and I didn't have a fun thing planned. All I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and fall asleep. Having fun is easy on vacation... it is not so easy on the day you get back from vacation. While this project is, in some ways, about doing ridiculous things I wouldn't normally create the space to do, it is more about finding pleasure in what already exists around me and noticing the joy that happens to pass my way.

In the end, a friend came over to make dinner (and BROWNIES) with Katie and me. We made a "Clean Out the Fridge" egg bake. It was a highly scientific recipe that we totally made up as we went along.

We sauteed the veggies we had in the fridge:

Then added some tomatoes and basil from the garden and poured eggs and queso fresco on top:

After an undetermined amount of time in the oven, it was delicious.

The highlight of the night was our musical clean-up interlude during which I learned how to play the glass filled with water. I've never heard someone say, "I don't like music," but I'm afraid if my water-glass music was the only music a person had ever heard that might change. We'll leave that to speculation and confirm that fun can be had even after a long hot day of cross-country travel and saying goodbye to vacation.


Fun Thing Six: Eating Ice Cream for Lunch

One might be tempted to believe that a single adult woman is commit-phobic. One would be wrong.  Fun Thing 6 was a celebration of lifelong commitment that I made with a dear friend in 2008:

We will eat ice cream (preferably Ted Drewes Frozen Custard) for dinner together at least once a year.  

That might seem silly, but in the four years since we made the commitment, we've lived in the same state for approximately 3 months. It takes some work to pull this feat (or she now conveniently lives in St. Louis, land of Ted Drewes and place where I frequently visit my friends and family). We got together yesterday to enjoy our frozen treats at lunchtime, a time we decided was acceptable to meet the requirements because it was not a "socially recognized ice cream eating time" like 3pm and 11pm. What? Don't you normally eat your ice cream at 11pm?  Because I do.

We got our All Shook Up concretes (banana and Reese's peanut butter cups) and blissfully sweltered in the sun. It didn't matter that technically it was my breakfast because I'd yet to consume anything other than coffee yet that day. Ice cream (er, frozen custard) was made for moments like these.


Fun Thing Five: Even Better than the Real Thing

Last night, U2 rocked Busch Stadium. As I sat in a crowd of more than 50,000 hot and sweaty people, my life flashed before my eyes. Each song reminded me another moment that the music and lyrics brought meaning and definition to the indescribable parts and pieces of life. Bono seemed keen on taking a walk down memory lane, reading the set list from their show at Washington University 30 years ago, showing old videos from Berlin (?) in the 1980s, and even bidding The Edge to tell the story of "Stay." I don't think I've heard The Edge speak at a concert before.

When my strange obsession with U2 and going to U2 concerts comes up in conversation, people often ask "Why?" Quite often, the questioners love The Cure or Aerosmith, or maybe some obscure indie band from Montreal. These are bands that are worthy of fandom and obsession, but my sister wasn't a huge Cure or Aerosmith fan and it was her car that took me to school, volleyball practice, and home again when I was in junior high. I'm not entirely sure where she developed her obsession, but it is probably a better story than "my sister made me do it." During my teenage years, U2 albums sprinkled my wish lists until my collection was compete. U2 songs filled my mixed tapes (as in, actual cassette tapes) for running and for relaxing around my room.  For two years after I discovered "Acrobat" on Achtung Baby, I couldn't go for a run without hearing it. It was my fuel and my faith. Similarly, The Joshua Tree drove me through the rural Midwest between home and college, All that You Can't Leave Behind helped me to cope with being a college freshman while my high school classmates started going off to war, and How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb accompanied me around my teensy college town. I can't hear certain songs from those albums without seeing my dorm room, the town square, and open fields of waving grain and farmhouses perched on the side of river bluffs.

Boston 2005, Vertigo Tour
Bono sang demurely last night. His voice has shown the effects of a lifetime of challenging and defining the way millions of people narrate their lives. He was laid back, the least composed I've ever seen him. Which is to say, he was still more composed than any other performer I've ever seen. The Edge backed up his struggling voice with harmonies that I've previously overlooked, never mind the guitar-playing genius living in his fingertips. Larry and Adam played patiently and reliably, as they have for decades.

This concert was likely the least prepared I've ever been for a U2 concert. I didn't scope out preceding concerts' set lists. I didn't listen obsessively to U2 music for weeks in preparation. I didn't have my heart set on hearing a particular group of songs. I went with an open mind and ready to be on my feet for several hours. Sitting, standing, and dancing next to my sister, the person who introduced me to so much of life including U2, I sang every word to every song and remembered where life has taken us. Singing along with the music and fans is more than the sum of the sensory experience, it is the sum of thousands of lifetimes singing and hoping for something more.

Bono and the band are by no means perfect. They are likely arrogant and greedy showboats.  They are likely contributors to some of the systemic problems Bono rails against in his public service portions of the concerts. But last night when Bono called out a member of his crew who has yet to meet his newly-born child and poked fun at himself for hauling 200 semi-trucks full of equipment across the country, I was reminded that we are all a little Bono: arrogant, stupid, humble, thankful, and hopeful. He's just a person, just like me, just like my sister. His honesty helps me to be honest, to be more faithful, and maybe just a little more silly.


Thing Four: Food with Family

When I was a little girl, going to see my family meant eating piles of my grandmother's delicious food, singing, dancing and being generally silly with my cousins, and maybe a ticklefest with my uncles. Now that I'm older, things haven't changed that much.

We still eat piles of delicious food.

We are still pretty silly.

As we enjoyed the outdoor concert and mass picnic, we were all smiles.

Friends came, too!

Outdoor neighborhood concerts make St. Louis one of my favorite places in the world.