Archive for the ‘Meeeee’ Category

Why I love fall

Damn if I don’t have a love/hate relationship with fall.  In the South, fall is a beautiful thing.   It sweeps in after the long, staggering summer with one chilly night and all of the sudden months of lovely, crisp air are laid out in front of you (well, except for the inexplicable heatwave that always comes through in October).  You finally get to wear your sweaters and your scarves, pumpkins start showing up in the grocery stores, and most importantly, football is back.  Where I’m from in Alabama, Fall lasts a long time.  Proper winter is brief, so you’ve got months and months of all that is perfect about this lovely season. 

It’s not quite like that up here.  Fall means one thing:  OH MY GOD WINTER IS ALMOST HERE. PLEASE EXCUSE ME WHILE I BURST INTO TEARS OVER HERE.

Ok, that’s a ridiculous exagerrations.  Fall also means:

1. Foliage- Listen, they aren’t messing around when they talk about the beauty of the Fall trees in New England.  That shit is magical.  The most impressive thing is how quickly it happens.  One day you drive by a perfectly serviceable green tree and the next day it is a riot of red and gold and orange bright enough to make you almost lose control of your car.  This place is beautiful right now.

2.  Candy Corn- My #1 all-time favorite candy.  This morning I walked into work and a co-worker of mine had a bowl on her desk.  I’m trying to figure out how to get her out of her office so I can dump it into my purse.   I want to find the person that invented it and kiss them on the mouth.  The quickest way to my heart is through candy corn.  (And don’t even think of bringing me those unholy pumpkins that masquerade around as a version of candy corn.  I am not fooled, and Jesus is watching you commit those sins, Brachs.)

3.  Winter clothing- Boots!  Scarves!  Hats!  I love winter clothing, and have managed to cultivate a pretty damn impressive collection of coats and jackets in my short tenure here* and I find it delightful to trot them out on occasion (and by “on occasion” I mean every day from now until May). 

4.  My birthday- It was last Saturday!  I turned 27 years old.  My September birthday is the reason that my middle name is Autumn.   

5.  And finally, but most importantly, football.  I love football. It is my favorite sport above all others.  It makes me so happy.    It especially makes me happy when my beloved team is doing extremely well.  Despite what those fucking polls say.  Ah well, what’s a good Auburn football season without getting screwed by the BCS standings and bitching about the AP Poll?  I have only this to say:  War Damn Eagle.   I’m also pleased that I have found friends up here who are excited to sit around all day on Sunday and watch football (of course, my preference would be to sit around all day on SATURDAY to watch football, but I’ll take what I can get).  They at least tolerate me talking about what happened to all the teams I love and loathe on the previous day,  so that’s good enough for me.

*If you’re keeping track, I also just passed my two-year anniversary of being in Massachusetts.   I do not know how I feel about that, so don’t even ask.

Back in the swing (God, strike me down for that ridiculous pun)

Back in High School, I had this deeeelightful boyfriend who used to go swing dancing with me.  And I’m not talking about some amature box-step shit, we were awesome.  Like, flips and throws and cute shoes and he wore a vest and a hat.  It was fantastic.  I LOVED every second of it, and it has been something that I’ve missed so very much.

About a month ago, one of my friends casually mentioned that she was taking a beginner swing dancing class with her husband in (LO!) Plymouth.  About 14 feet away from my house, in fact.  She said that the class was almost over, but that they were going to start a Swing 2 class when that one finished.  Boy howdy, you can imagine my excitement at the prospect, then my broken heart as I realized I didn’t know anyone who would take a swing class with me.   Bollocks, I tell you! 

(Aside:  listen, guys.  I’m going to tell you a secret right now.  LEARN TO DANCE.  It will automatically make you 135% more attractive to almost any girl in the world.  A guy who can dance is not only awesome but also in high demand.  THIS IS THE TRUTH.  And it doesn’t matter if you suck or you look stupid.  The fact that you are willing to try is hot.)

And then one night I was playing cards with some friends, and it was casually mentioned that one of them knew how to swing dance.  And I totally played that shit cool in the situation, but in my head I was going “SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” and trying to figure out how in the hell I could make him come to Plymouth and take this class with me.  I thought I was going to have to hem and haw and do all manner of convincing, but it was really easy.  Using the medium of my generation, Facebook, I approached him thusly:

 

(this is the legit word-for-word conversation, by the way)

 

Me:  Dude- you need to come to Plymouth on Monday nights and be my partner in a swing dancing class.  Seriously.  You’ve yet to learn how awesome I am and that makes me sad for you.
Dan (and no, not the Dan that just had the baby, but one of his best friends, just to be confusing) (He’ll be Swing Dan from now on, k?):
dude, i thought you’d never invite me.  you’ll be amazed at how slightly above average i am at it, especially if the song is in three.
now that i don’t tutor on monday nights anymore (huzzah!) i can probably do it. let me know what mondays you’re thinking of going.
 
Me: Did you just say huzzah in a sentence and actually mean it? I think we might be soul mates.
Several of my friends are taking the class right now, but they are in a “swing 1” level class (pshaw…amateurs!) and in a few weeks it switches over to swing level 2. I gotta tell you, it’s been a frighteningly long time since I’ve danced, so my pre-stated awesomeness may be a little less that I’d like to admit. Still though, I think I’m decent? (Dear god, please let me be decent still!) 
 
And that was that!  And this was about the 3rd time I had ever talked to him, so kudos to him for being willing to put up with me.  I guess my southern accent is more charming than I realize sometimes!
Last night we took our second class.  He’s really good.  I’m…not so much anymore.  I mean, I’m not terrible, but I am WAY below my high-school level.  There will be no flips in my future, especially since he’s moving to NYC in August to go to grad school.  That selfish jackass!
But until then, I get to look forward to dancing every Monday night.  Yay!

In my blood

The question that I get most regularly when someone finds out that I’m from Alabama is “can you make fried chicken?”  I’m not sure where this pervasive stereotype comes from, but people up here seem to think that we make and eat fried chicken 5 days a week down south (really, it’s only 3 or 4, depending on the season…) and that every person with southern blood seems to posses this skill.  Well, I don’t.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE fried chicken- who doesn’t?- but not only have I never made it myself, it also wasn’t something that people in my family ever made.  I didn’t have a granny who stood barefoot in a kitchen on Sundays and churned out heaping plates of southern cookin’, and while I can make some mean biscuits and both of my parents are quite fabulous cooks, that whole image of the big southern meal wasn’t really much a part of my childhood.  We were as likely to have stir-fry as chicken and dumplings. 

Regardless of that, I have come to want- nay, need- a repetoire of southern recipies that I feel that I have mastered.  Call it a desperation to connect to my upbring if you want, but really I think it’s just because southern food is so goddamn fabulous and I know I can impress people with it.  Either way, it works out well for you if you come over to my house for dinner.

About a month ago, one of my friends up here requested that I make her fried chicken.  I warned her that it wasn’t something that I had ever made before, but that I’d be willing to give it a go as long as I could make it at her house (the clean-up is a nightmare) and it could be on a weekend when I had all day.  It just worked out that the 4th of July fell perfectly, so we planned it for this weekend.

I combed quite a few trusted sources, before finally settling on the Alton Brown method (how do I love thee…? Let me count the ways:  sweet tea, pizza dough, fried green tomatoes, roast chicken…) which was perfect in it’s simplicity.   One thing that was pervasive in all recipes: use a whole chicken that you cut up yourself.  Sounds like excellent reasoning, but hell if I know how to cut up a chicken.  Good thing for us all, the friend who I’m making this for has a roommate who’s an executive chef, and he invited us to come down to his restaurant in Providence, RI for lunch and a chicken-hacking lesson on Friday afternoon.   How awesome is that?

And- AND!- not only did he volunteer his expertise, he also knew where to get me some excellent, fresh chickens.  Turns out there is an abattoir (that’s a GRE word for slaughterhouse, y’all) right in the middle of this swanky street in downtown providence.  Awesome.  The chickens I used were alive mere hours before I stuck my knife in them.  It was surreal to be standing in the kitchen of a gourmet restaurant in my sandals and jeans while GIANT pots (we’re talking witch cauldrons here) of chicken stock bubbled away, a pizza oven was roaring a few feet away and a guy was making fresh pasta at a table next to me, but it was a great lesson and now I am theoretically adept at dismantling a chicken in an efficient way.  Also lunch was fabulous.  

And  through the entire thing we were all desperately clinging to our cell phones awaiting news of the delivery, which was taking place as we were at the restaurant.  Damn…that really was a crazy day.

The chicken pieces got a nice, long soak overnight in buttermilk and the next afternoon I set out to attempt to fry chicken.  There were many false starts, I’m sorry to say.  First of all that there was SO MUCH CHICKEN.  Chef Jeff got three chickens so that I would have ample practice, and that makes for a shit-load of bird parts.  I was cooking them for hours- being severely impeded by having only one properly-seasoned cast iron skillet (and I’m not about to enrage the southern-cooking gods by using anything else).  And then I didn’t have a thermometer.  Every source I saw was adamant about having the oil at 325 and not to allow it to stray to either side, so I was doing a lot of guess work.  The very first piece I removed was unbelievably perfect with a beautiful, golden crust.  I could hear Colonel Sanders crying.  And then it all went to hell…pieces were cooking too slowly and then too quickly and they were perfect on the outside and raw on the inside and there was much hemming and hawing and stamping of feet.

And t hen they started to burn.  Fast.  And then the fire alarm went off.  So we were all rushing frantically to the smoke detector waving towels and pans at it and I was trying to turn down the heat while molten crisco was sputtering all over the kitchen and then…

And then Chef Jeff walked in.  To witness my utter failure!  But he just smiled and said “I think your oil is too hot” and I bit my tongue to keep from saying anything snarky.  After another 20 minutes of frustration, I got everything evened out and the remaining 1900 pieces cooked to my standards.  They were quite beautiful.  And really, really tasty. 

We sent some over to the neighbors and when they came over afterwards to play lawn games with us they told me it was the best friend chicken they had ever had.  Bless their yankee hearts. 

It was far from perfect, to be sure, but it was certainly edible.  And now I’m on a mission to perfect fried chicken.  I’ll be happy to cook you some on my quest, but you have to clean up after me.

!!

Oh my god,  y’all!  I’m back!

So, it’s probably just a good idea to pretend that those last few months where I haven’t written a goddamn word were actually full of witty repartee and fabulous jokes.  We’ll all be better off that way.

So let’s just get all this yadda yadda shit out of the way, alright?

I still live in Massachusetts.  I moved to Plymouth in February and it is practically dripping with pilgrims.  In fact, I actually live with two honest-to-god pilgrims.   No really.  They work at Plymouth Plantation.  How ridiculously cool is that?

I’m still working for my giant non-profit and it still pays the bills and I don’t hate it very much.

And this past weekend I went to Washington DC where I held a meteorite worth 1 million dollars that fell in Egypt in the 1910 and, I quote here, “Burned a dog to ashes in mere seconds.”  Also I held another meteorite that is 4.5 BILLION years old and is literally the oldest thing on the planet.  I’m pretty sure that makes me the coolest person that you know.

Jealous?

And because I’ve sorta forgotten how to be funny in writing here’s a link to the best thing I’ve found on the innernets in ages:  Texts from last night.   You probably shouldn’t read this at work, because it made tears stream down my face and I tee-teed in my pants a little bit.  On several occasions.

Are people still even reading this site?   You should comment and let me know if I should try to revive it.

A belated thanks

Hi All.

I just wanted to tell everyone “thanks.”

My inbox has been flooded with emails that have made me feel so wonderful.  Some from dear friends, some from strangers, but all so very meaningful.

When people ask me how I’m doing, my response is “actually, really well.”  This has been the oddest breakup I’ve ever gone though in that it hasn’t been awkward and it hasn’t been (terribly) hard.  Maybe it is because it was so mutual, maybe it’s because Pete and I had both come to the conclusion that it was bound to happen…I don’t know.  But I do know that the wonderful emails and comments and calls that I have gotten have made it so much easier.

How did I get so lucky to garner such support?  I feel so grateful to all of you…really.  Thank you.

What this means

Many of you know that my education is in History.  Specifically American History.  Specifically Ante-Bellum American History.  Specifically the American South in the 18th Century.

In that focus, it’s impossible to not study and be aware of the impact of slavery and race in our history.  To say it is important is a great understatement.  It is the lasting carryover of our dark, shameful history in this country.  Slavery and racism is our sad legacy and the lasting effects of it can be felt all over America.

I’m writing this not as a joyful, gleeful, hopeful Democrat (which, naturally, I AM!), but as an observer and student of the history of our country.  What I’m about to write is not partisan.

Last night, as I was watching Obama’s acceptance speech, tears were streaming down my face.  And it wasn’t even his eloquent, beautiful words.  It was a keen awareness of the fact that I was watching history being made.  I was a part of history.  The feeling and the awareness was overwhelming to me.  It’s something I’ve never felt before- not truly.

“Watching history being made” is a statement that is bandied about without much concern for what it means these days.  People always think that what happens in their lifetimes will be everlasting, but it isn’t the case.  Almost everything becomes a footnote, only focused on and studied by historians with specific, esoteric fields of study.  The 2000 and 2004 elections will not be widely remembered in 200 years.  I’m even prepared to say that George Bush will not be widely remembered- even though his is officially our most unpopular president ever.   Kids in advanced history classes in High School will memorize his name and some cute little mnemonic to remember that he was 43, but his legacy- good or bad- will not endure for centuries.  I know it is hard to imagine, given our passions about him and his politics, but people were just as passionate about Taft (remembered for getting stuck in his bathtub) and Chester A. Arthur (remembered for his especially ridiculous facial hair).

But what happened last night was different.  This is a date that little kids will have to memorize.  This is a man who statues will be built for and High Schools will be named after.  This isn’t politics, this is an honest-to-god defining moment in American History.  This is as significant as Cornwallis surrendering to George Washington in Yorktown, VA.  This is as significant as a group of soldiers in Charleston, S.C firing on US Soldiers at Ft. Sumter.  This is as significant as the Constitutional Convention.  This is a Pearl Harbor.

That we have gone from a Nation built on the back of slaves only 150 years ago, and a nation that murdered black men and women trying to vote 70 years ago to a  country that just elected a black man as our leader is something to truly be proud of.   Our changing nation is miraculous.

I feel like this is a moment to savor- a moment to ignore the political squabbling and the division and the arguments and the anger and frustration and disappointment (and trust me, as a Democrat, boy do I ever know how you feel) and to just embrace that we have become a nation that has just thrown off the largest lasting yoke of inequality in this country.   Today, we are truly all Americans.  We truly all have a voice.  We truly belong to one United nation.

I am so awed.  And so proud.

Oh my comments

Y’all, that post yesterday is getting some serious comments.  Albeit, they are only from 5 people, but still very impressive!  You should read them, readers!