Thursday, April 16, 2015

Little )en

I feel like I spend a substantial chunk of my time trying to go back to my childhood.  I don't really know what "go back" means. I guess it looks like a lot of things. Let's see here...


1. I go back to my parents' house where I grew up.  Being inside is nice but the things that really take me back to childhood are the out of doors.  For each season I have special places, nooks, corners, bushes, trees, or just the grass where I spent a lot of time. And, of course, the smells are particularly powerful.  I look up at the night sky during the winter and see the stars and I'm launched.   Right now I'm smelling the blossoms and am reminded of Frog and Toad's The Corner, where "spring is right around the corner" and I went looking for it. And i found it, around the corner, on some pure, clean dry dirt near the bushes, where I sat, in the sun, in my tiny patch of spring.  I get flashes of this now and then when talking about spring to Julian.

2. I go back by talking to my siblings, hearing their stories which are also mine but had been forgotten. We recently compiled a collection of memories for a book for my parents. I set up a google doc for us to add things to at our leisure. One of the categories was "objects"-- things we just remember lying around from our youth, like weird statues or mementos or furniture or blankets.  They listed so many things i had forgotten.  "The old green hamper!"  It was crazy.

3. I go back by talking to Julian, who loves to hear stories from my youth. I go back by teaching him extremely important things, like how to eat graham crackers (dipping it in a cup of milk, trying not to dip for too long so that it falls off, but having a spoon on standby just in case)  and reading books from my youth. Let me tell you something. If you want to go back to your childhood, go to your parents' house and rummage through and then thieve all the old books you used to read. WOW.  So powerful.  Julian and I have finished The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks (parts one and two), Fairy Rebel, have just started Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and on the docket: Mandy and Indian in the Cupboard. 

Recently I attended a church activity where they asked for childhood photos to display. I went through a box and found one, Sean conjured up a frame from somewhere, and I submitted it.  People would walk around trying to guess who was who and then eat dinner at the tables where the pictures were displayed. I sat right in front of my own pic and as people would walk by, trying to guess who the little girl was, i'd make comments like, "yeah, who knows. All I know is she's friggin' adorable.."   and then when they realized it was me and it got a little awkward, i'd say i was extremely vain and just liked to look at me, which didn't make it any less awkward but is just me embracing the awkwardness.

But then i took the picture home and sat it on the kitchen counter and guess what?  I kind of like it. Nope, I pretty much love it. I love to walk by and see it. Is this weird? Is this truly vain of me? It's a cute picture but more than that, when I walk by and glance at it I'm struck with this really powerful feeling of familiarity of maybe someone important that I used to know. Since that person is me, this makes a lot of sense.  But i haven't seen pictures of my kid-self for a long time and looking at her is reminding me of that time and, kind of, who I used to be and really, still am.  A little scraggly girl running around on the grass. And I love her. I love little Jen. She is so a part of me, even now.  I see a tiny bit of Julian in her but mostly, when I look at her, I just feel more connected to myself. She is my friend. She reminds me of me. And it's so fun, that I would even recommend to you to go dig up a kid picture of yourself and put it out. See how kid-you makes you feel. And bring back just a little of your childhood.



i also love this picture for the shirt I was wearing. It says, "want a little girl? take my sister."  And even though reading that now really makes it sound like a blatant advertisement to kidnappers, I l-o-v-e-d this shirt and wore it to smithereens.

Monday, April 13, 2015

The Drawbacks of the Meridian of Time

JEN: I sure am eating a lot of honey these days.

SEAN: Jesus ate a lot of honey, Jen.

JEN: Yeah. He probably had a sweet tooth.

SEAN: And he probably knew that there would one day be a lot of sweet alternatives and he was like, maaan, this is all we get.   The drawbacks of the meridian of time.

JEN, laughing and laughing:  That is sooo funny. I love that. Where are my post-its?

SEAN: I think about that all the time. The circumstances of his life. He was the creator of the world and lived in poverty.  Like water. No clean, good-tasting water. Just a lot of wine and grape juice. And, he was probably like, "we sure eat a lot of chickpeas." 

Friday, April 03, 2015

NY I Miss: The People

If you suddenly lurched forward, grabbed me, held a knife to my neck and said, "What's the ONE THING you miss most about New York, Jen!"  (because it's so hard to decide but maybe not so hard with a knife to my neck), I would say the ONE thing I miss most is the people.  My friends, absolutely. There's something about making friends when you're out in the wild that really makes it something special. But really it's just being around other people. Interacting with humanity, for good or bad. Those moments were always when i felt most alive, were the most magical. Or frightening and anger-inducing. Either way, the feelings were rigorous and, turns out, that strange kind of community might be something i'd grown not just accustomed to, but perhaps a little addicted, for it now feels like awful withdrawals.  I yearn for interaction, to be amongst people who could come from the opposite kind of life of mine. To share life with for a fleeting but meaningful moment. Ahhh, that is the good stuff. 

To illustrate, Sean and I had a conversation a while back. It may have seemed to him that i wasn't paying very good attention since I happened to be at my computer when it began and thus started to vigorously transcribe, but I was, oh, i was paying good attention.  I call this one,

Sean and Jen Talk About the People
 
SEAN: to me, there, it's kind of a twisted kind of loneliness. to always be surrounded by people, even if i was ignoring them or being ignored by them.  It's kind of like the fair. There's this continual excitement. There's always something going on and you're always experiencing it with at least a half dozen people immediately around you. Most of my experiences here are either solitary or with people i choose to experiencing them with. Not just the general horde. There, even if i ran out at 11:00 for ice cream or butter or milk, i would see ten people and talk to two, just to achieve that. 
 And here, there's either no place for butter or milk or not worth going 20 minutes for it. 15. whatever.  But there it's interesting to be like, I'm at home with Jen watching a movie and having a brownie emergency and these ten or twenty people are smoking outside the bar on Vanderbilt or working the late shift at the bodega or hanging out late, waiting for ramen.  But there are definitely people there are all the time. There's something about doing laundry that's less lame when you're at a laundromat and you see other people doing their thing, doing laundry as well and you're all doing your thing.  Together.  Whatever it is. You're not alone doing laundry in your house, which is kind of lame.  

It was so specific. It was, i'm going to go do my laundry and see what other people are doing. I'll see who's fixing their bike, who's waiting for the B65 [bus], i'll see who's having italian food and i'll see how my sad french restaurant is doing. If there's an important soccer game going on, i will know, because there will be a crowd at Woodwork [a bar]. And that's just one intersection.  So knowing you're in the middle of something huge makes you feel a part of it. I don't think it necessarily makes you feel like you're famous or whatever people say. You only feel that when you're not there.  When you're there you feel like you don't matter at all.  

JEN: I don't know, though. I always felt cool being there.  

SEAN: Just being there?

JEN: Yeah

SEAN: Maybe i didn't think about that enough. I probably should have, you know. Like for somebody to hang out a sign and be like, i'm about to start a restaurant on vanderbilt avenue--that's a big deal, you know? And if you can make it in brooklyn in a foodie place and an up and coming foodie neighborhood, maybe you've got something really special going on there.

JEN: I think knowing it was fleeting at some kind of rate or pace, i was always conscious of it.  It was always there. I knew it would be gone one day, I just didn't know when. But knew it could happen at any moment. This kind of thinking was something I thought was amusing at the time but which I now think is kind of a perfect way to live.

SEAN: You always knew you were passing through.

JEN: Yes.  And I can totally see now why people wouldn't want to stay in the same place for very long. People who get the itch to move somewhere new, have new experiences. I totally get that. 

SEAN: Even if you love the place you're in? You still need to move so you don't grow to hate it?

JEN: i don't know how it is for other people who experience similar feelings but that's how it was for me.  But also it was so hard living there in NY so that was an easy reminder and a very present thing. It wasn't like I was anticipating it being horrible or assuming I'd hate something one day based on nothing. Living there, in many ways, is pretty unsustainable. You can do it, but you have to give. A lot.

SEAN: From the beginning.

JEN: yes.

SEAN: I mean, there were some things we got good at and there were some things you just can't get good at. The only way you can get good at parking is to spend $500 a month for a spot.

JEN: Yes, or do an art piece where you take pictures of yourself waiting for parking, so as to take some bit of control of the situation. [Coming to a gallery near...someone...] It's a mind over matter thing.

SEAN: art is therapy. 

SEAN: I didn't realize you were writing down what i was saying until late in the game.

SEAN: It's not even that i miss specific people, i just miss being a part of something.  When i went to Home Depot here, i didn't hate the crowd at all because people were busy doing things. I'd see them and be like, ooh, you're getting a new garbage disposal today? How fun. 

SEAN: [referring to Bklyn] Imagine the scariest person you can imagine. You just KNOW they've got a weapon and blood on their hands. They're coming down the sidewalk and you're about the pass them and you have that rush of, they're 20 feet away, 10 feet away, 6 feet away. I am SO close to a serial killer right now. And then they're gone.

JEN: Which probably happened! 

SEAN: And maybe they were thinking the same thing. But how often does this kind of interchange happen here? It just doesn't. You don't MIX. 

JEN: I once stood on the train, holding onto the bar over a guy who was sitting and had the HUGEST gaping, openly bleeding head wound.  I mean... i assume he was ok because he was conscious and just sitting there. And i probably should have been like, are you ok? can i help you with that? But he was right THERE.  Sitting with a head wound.  And i was like, mister, you have had a bad day

SEAN: I once sat next to somebody who was clearly not very wealthy and their coat was dirty and the seat was tight so we were pressed against each other. I looked over and saw that all the little dust on his coat was squirming.  He was covered in tiny little maggots. I jumped up and went as far away as i could, which was probably 18 inches.  And that was that. I didn't say anything.  What do you do? I was just like, nope, not the seat for me.  

JEN: And.. you're repulsed but it's also, like-

SEAN: -really sad about them.  Like aw man, you've got maggots all over you. There's something Christian, some impulse like--oh, should i have given him my coat? And it just seems like there are more problems there than you can begin to address.  

JEN: Well i think the initial christian impulse, one that is important and must happen before anything else is to see things like this and say, oh, you're a person. This is happening to you and i feel this way, and also, you're a person.  And i'm a person. And we're here together. We might be next door neighbors.  And i'm sorry that this is happening to you. 

SEAN: At the same time you can't just go around giving away your coat everyday. You'd see somebody every day to give your coat to. 

JEN: And that's what i miss.  I wasn't very good at being "charitable" in the coat-giving sense.  But what it did for me was make me see them as people, as fellow human beings. Brothers and sisters, you might say.  

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Day's Pictures' Worth

Newsflash: Spring actually comes to Utah when it's supposed to. Actually that's not quite true as we have been living in perpetual spring since mid-February, which I'm assuming is highly unusual. But it's starkly different from my old home where March is the most brutal beast of all of winterdom. The equinox will come and go and March doesn't even bat an eye. It's the time of year when, if it gets warm at all, it's rainy. A warm dry day hardly exists at all, let alone in spring. I'm pretty excited to have a lovely dry birthday this year, i'll be honest. 

This morning the day was particularly fine. It's hard to specifically choose this day above others since the weather is pretty consistent for at least several days, but for some reason there was just something in the air. And it caused me to take pictures throughout the day and I will illustrate it for you now.

The first picture I took was after I had sat down on the floor with the ipad to check my email. I got one from my friend who duly felt it incumbent to direct me to this very worthwhile video.  Little did she know what shirt I chose to wear this day. Which probably set the tone for the whole lovely day, actually. I sent her a picture to declare her a prophetess:


10:30am

These were taken on the walk to the bus.

I was like, "Hey kid, you look about twelve. Stand in front of that bush, will ya."  
10:56am

Then we looked on the other side of the road and I laughed at this scene. "One piece ought to do it."  I'm so impressed. If I had done that, which i would, you wouldn't even see the box. Just a big ball of tape.


10:57am

On the way back from the bus. We live on the end of this woodsy quiet lane with like six other houses.  It's actually quite picturesque and the birds abound.  While I often feel this place is too quiet, I would quiet down so I could hear the birds.  I saw this one hopping in a tree by me and it felt really close even though you can hardly see it. You can see it in the upper center quadrant.


11:05am

I really think this bush? bed of yellow grass? is so pretty. And you can't see them but a family of quail just scampered off in the shadows in the background. 

11:09am
On the way to school a couple of hours later. Along the way is one of the best trees of all, the weeping willow. I don't know if I just love the look of it or that its name implies so much emotion. I guess those are the same things. I wonder what alternative names could be? Depressive Willow. Droopy Willow. Woeful Willow. Wallowing Willow -- think we have a winner.  

12:55pm

So there's this house on the way to/from school that STILL has their Christmas tree up. And it's really starting to creep me out. Having your tree up this long is unacceptable anyway but having it so out in the open like that just gets more and more mysterious and even ominous to me. I need to know what's going on. Is the family on one big extended holiday? Have they all been murdered in their home, still sitting at the dining room table for Christmas dinner??  WHAT'S GOING ON?
1:41pm
And in case you thought the wagon was dead, fear not. It is very much alive and just as beloved. I sometimes walk to pick Julian up from school which is freakish and weird around here but I have to; i just have to. And since I don't know how to exercise in the traditional sense, I sometimes bring the wagon for some added resistance.   This also makes the walk back home not 3 hours long, but he actually loves it too.

1:42pm
Got some new sandals. Orange Tevas for $20. I love them. It's pretty lame to take a picture of my feet but I'd do it for Tevas.  

1:43pm

Earlier at the bus stop Julian picked some dandelion leaves and told me you can eat them. He told me to "make something for dinner with them" which made me laugh out loud. "Make something for dinner"! LOL, that kid...  But anyway, i did take them home and put them in a tiny salad we shared after school and am praying we don't get the runs. They're pretty bitter, if you wanted to know, but not bad.  Also, dandelions are handy if you need a writing implement on the go:
1:47pm

The slanty accent mark was just the first dandelion test but I like how things ended.  I may adopt that as a new signature, like how I used to put a tiny registered trademark sign by my name and how these days a ) is a fun J. My name is like a separate entity of its own. 

After we had returned home we ate our dandelion salad outside while i finished our book, one of my favorites called The Fairy Rebel that i thieved from my parents' house. It's about a woman who comes into contact with fairies and elves that live in her rose garden. Then we busted out the airbrush paint kit and an Easter egg stencil and made masterpieces:

4:54pm



Here's an up close shot.
4:54pm
 
Then I looked up and the moon was like, hello, what about me?


4:55pm

Sean resting his bones next to Mr. Bones:
4:56pm

The End.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Egg in My Sink

I made myself a poached egg for breakfast.  I salted it, peppered it, and ate it atop a buttered, toasted english muffin which I ate, bent over the kitchen sink while resting on my elbows.  I bit into it and saw that the egg was perfect, because you never really know what your egg will turn out to be, but it was.  Half runny, half not. Warm and salty.  I ate half of it before it slipped off the english muffin and into the sink.  I stared at it and at the reality that my sink egg will be egg I will never know the taste of. Like all of the possibilities in the world had slipped off into my kitchen sink.  And that's the kind of morning I've been having.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Friday the 13th Review

I wrote this at the close of the actual day and this is how far I got. I can't actually remember any details from the rest of the day, but given such an ominous beginning, we can imagine what the rest might have been like. 

)en's log: Date 03/13/15.799342

The day started weird already with what sounded like demons trapped inside our walls, clawing to get out. Turns out it was probably only raccoons.  I still hear it every now and then.

I woke up with a cold worse than the day before. My right nostril completely closed up with my left one feebly trying to make do, unsuccessfully. Therefore I had to sleep the night with my mouth open which resulted in the expected and highly loathed mouth full o' gunge.  Also had lots of weird dreams, none of which I can recall.

When I got dressed this morning I subconsciously dressed entirely in black. First i put on a new pair of black flared jeans. After debating whether or not these have successfully "come back," in my cold-induced dazed, I searched for a top. I grabbed a black shirt and it felt right, though I hadn't originally intended on adorning myself so bleakly.  I topped off the look by trying out a new tube of orange lip gloss I'm determined to make work on me, without any other makeup. The bright lip on such a pasty canvas could be quite a frightening experience, depending on whether you're looking at me or not.

I stepped out this morning into eerie quiet.  The bright sun gleamed across the azure sky, accompanied by the sound of chirping birds, a rustle of a lazy wind and not a single other person in sight. *shudder*

Friday, March 13, 2015

Would You Rather Friday

It's BACK! I just spent the better part of anyone's day reading through old Would You Rathers and laughed my bum off. I am hil-arious! And it made me excited to do another one. So I made Sean go out into the garage and search for the deck of cards. After a minute I went down to help him and as I was reaching for the doorknob, he opened it from the other side. Without even having to pause, instinctively I put my hands up in a claw-like "rawrr" position, because it was a prime scare moment. Again, it was purely instinctual. And scare him I did.   Sean always yell-growls when I scare him and it is SO GOOD. He then asks why? whyyyy? He really hates it. Lucky for him I did not include a yell with my scare, as I usually do, which would have rendered him unconscious with fear.  I told him the situation, how it couldn't be helped. I think he understood.

Also, it's another Friday the 13th today. I'm going to pay special attention to things that happen and document them. Let's see what comes of this second, consecutive Friday the 13th, making it extra eerie. 

Would you rather...

Have to sleep 2 nights per week in a bed with a full cup of cracker crumbs and a full cup of coarse sand poured inside -OR- walk around all day, 2 days per month, with grape jelly in your shoes?

Is it just me or is this one really complicated?  A FULL cup of cracker crumbs and coarse sand?  I think I'm going to choose the grape jelly. 2 days per month sounds a lot less unpleasant than 2 nights per week and I think if i just kept my shoes on all day, i'd eventually forget about the grape jelly. And i can think of worse things to let my feet saturate in all day. 

Would you rather go to lousy open-mike comedy clubs every night of the week -OR- go to embarrassing karaoke bars every night of the week?

AAAH karaoke bars!! Comedy clubs are the pits. I haven't been to many but i struggle to really laugh at stand-up comics.  The thing is, it doesn't take much to make me laugh so why pay money to watch someone perform scripted jokes?  Plus, karaoke is fun! I've never actually done it for realsies, like at a super public place, but i would! Who wants to go do this with me?

Would you rather...

As a man, date a woman who has a thick, non-shavable mustache -OR- date one who is seven feet tall? 

As a hypothetical man, I am betting most men would rather date a seven-foot tall woman. She's an amazon! I feel like being with a woman taller than you, (as a man) isn't such a big deal anymore. At least for the secure ones, which I would be.  Any men want to weigh in? Am i right?


Would you rather run 20 miles in 68-degree weather -OR- 8 miles in 100-degree weather?

I don't really know. To me, all this questions is asking is if I'd rather die or die.  Running in 100 degrees sounds terrible. But running 20 miles sounds really bad too.  But also, so does running.  Let me ask:  Can something be chasing me? Because I could probably run sort of far if that were the case. I need some motivation, man. Any actual runners want to weigh in?

Would you rather be ridiculed by an adult until your feelings are hurt -OR- by a child until your feelings are hurt? 

What the hey? This question is so weird.  I guess I'd choose a child. They are less accountable and also, i'm taller than he/she is, AND I can drive, so there

Here's another man question:

Would you rather, as a man, find out that your fly was open all day -OR- that your shirt tail was out, you missed a belt loop and your pant leg was stuck inside the top of your sock?

What, are these just the most humiliating nightmare scenarios for a man? I mean, the 2nd one is just good comedy! If you came home and realized this then you'd either a) have a good laugh at what a mess you are or b) be unfazed because if ALL of that was going on, you probably don't care to dress yourself so carefully in the first place.  Or it's indicative of a certain kind of day where far worse things were entailed. Besides, the belt loop happens to me pretty much every time i wear a belt. It's like buttoning up a cardigan. I can't not miss-align the buttons. It's really weird. I can try really hard and no matter what, they WILL be out of alignment. I have just given up. 

Would you rather have to catch every fish in a 100x100 foot pond -OR- have to find a needle in a 25x25 foot room filled 4 feet high with gelatin dessert.

Umm.. you had me at "room filled with gelatin dessert."   Just yesterday i was explaining to Julian what a fantasy is. The examples I gave were living in a jello house or having a replicator in my home. He agrees with me that living in a jello house would, indeed, be the "dream of dreams!"

What say you?

Monday, March 02, 2015

Big Ideas

I have often considered myself sort of an idea person. I think I have some pretty good ideas now and then. Now, I'm not great at executing said ideas, and I don't even want to be in charge. I want someone else to carry it all out.  But I dream big and I want those dreams to become reality.  So I share them. I share them on my blog. Because you just never know.

A few days ago I had two big ideas and they both occurred in the car on the freeway as we listened to my 60's Oldies radio station on Pandora.

1. I said to Sean, "You know what they should do? Have a Battle of the Bands reality show. They'll get famous bands and assign them all the same song to cover, in their own way, their own style. I'm thinking Coldplay, Moby, and whoever else. And then people can vote on their favorite version!"  

Isn't this a great idea?? It is, right?  We were listening to such songs as Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and My Guy  My Guy in particular is a great song that could use a really crazy re-vamp.  

2. Driving in silence and then Sean said, "I keep thinking about how I would re-do the _____s' living room. It's just not quite there yet."   (Identity undisclosed so as not to offend.)

And then he explained in great detail what he would do with the _____s' living room, with their existing furniture.  He's just SO good at looking at a room and knowing how to set up the furniture. He takes careful consideration of the layout, can eyeball measurements, and if there's furniture already there, can immediately mentally rearrange it so it's a better, more suitable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing layout.  

This idea is a business venture. I have decided to hire him out. I guess this is what interior designers already do but he's got such a sharp and intelligent eye for it and along with being extremely artistic, he has a highly mathematical/nerd brain for it as well.  It's like a science. 

Anyway, so help me think of a name and if you need a revamp of the layout of your rooms, give us a call.  Extra charge if you want him to find pieces for you, like a Navajo woven rug as a wall hanging, which he's been on the hunt for for quite some time. Right now all i've got is The Re-organizer.  Or The Re-doer. Or The Spin Doctor (that one just came to me).


3. Those are my two million dollar ideas.  The 3rd item is just a bonus item that has nothing to do with ideas. It happened tonight as I was perusing the abyss that is Netflix. I really don't mean to be so critical but it was just us, in our home, and it made me laugh because it was another example of very atypical Sean explosiveness.

Jen: When did Jake Gyllenhal get so buh-ugly? 

Sean, from the other room:    Since BIRTH.  That guy is HORRIBLE.  He's just like the guy who looks like me.

"guy who looks like me," aka "loathsome actor who shall not be named" because Sean SO hates being compared to him is none other than Toby Maguire.  He's gotten it a lot. 

Do you see it?
     


To close, a Sean quote that, again, has to do with my pandora music. This time the station was Coldplay. I looove analyzing Coldplay. I fantasize of having sit-down meetings with Chris Martin and telling him what goes wrong in his songs. I feel like I know what he's thinking. Sometimes he's so close. And other times he misses the mark completely. And I can help him, I know I can. 

Anyway, the station is not great and all of a sudden a slew of 90's "hits" came on (did anything good come out of the 90's, musically? Other than Cranberries, i mean).  I can't remember what song it was but after my initial "BLEGHH" and intentions to thumbs down it Sean said, calmly, as if he read it somewhere,  but did not:

Ah, yes. Extroverted rock music.  Singing to themselves and to the hot chicks in the front row.
 :D

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New York I Miss: The Food

Here it is,  the first in my NY I Miss series.  I had started this a couple of months ago and had 5 or so items when I became frustrated because there was just too much to say! What I had was insufficient and I felt weird about it. Plus, I think to pay respect, each item deserves its own separate post.  So they may still be short, but they'll stand alone.

Living in New York, I always tried to live in "nowstalgia," a term I thought i'd coined but turns out, i didn't.  But it meant attempting to be particularly present in my life and appreciate and love the things I was experiencing at the time.  Paying special notice so they don't slip by, especially because I knew I'd leave one day. Well, funnily enough, after I had begun this here list of things I miss,  I found in the underbelly of my blog drafts, a post. Unpublished. Called Things I'm Going to Miss.  I forgot all about it.  It was prophetic. A premonition, and a treat to read, four and a half years later, having moved, and it confirmed all of my feelings. I love nowstalgia! So i published it where it lay, and you may read it here.

So here we go. Item #1. I'm going to include the introduction in the original post because it's funny and I would be remiss if I didn't do all i can do in life to keep [my] jokes alive.

****
I've been thinking about strange things I miss about the NYC so I'm putting them here.  I'll try to keep it interesting because no one wants to hear about "ohhh i miss NY, the food there was sooo goood..." etc etc.

The food there was sooo goooood!  But really.  I knew what I was getting into by leaving and had resigned myself to it, and granted I haven't tried all the Utah restaurants yet, but my heart broke in two when I deleted the Seamless app because it became totally null by moving here.  Seamless is a food-ordering website. On it you can choose from literally one bazillion restaurants, select the food items you want, specify instructions like "light on the ___" or "sauce on the side pls!"  You can choose to pick it up or have them deliver AND the time at which you want the food to arrive. So i can order dinner at 8am! It was a staple of our lives, one I knew I wouldn't have anywhere else and knew i'd painfully miss, so we loved it up as much as possible.  I would use it to delivery dinners to peoples with new babes. Ohhhh Seamless.  I dream of you. Sean says to help himself cope with the pizza discrepancy, he just views the pizza here as a completely different food item.  I told him he should secretly call it something different, like zippa. It was just an idea.

Food is one of the areas where I'm not so sure ignorance isn't bliss.  Had I not had all the culinary experiences I had, would it make much difference to me? Would it be better to ignorantly be eating ____ and calling it "good food"?  Maybe.   Well...   No.  No.  I have had way too many spiritual experiences at restaurants than I can never choose the other way.  Eating in NY taught me so much. It taught me about, i want to say, approximately a billion (more or less) new flavors and how to savor them. It taught me what a "bistro" was, which was a great love. I'm not even sure how to define it still, but I know I love them. Small cozy restaurants? where you sit quietly, with very subdued lighting, just you, your friend, and your food. A very intimate dinner party. I also learned what it meant to have a "palate,"  and how to refine said palate. I don't really know how to do that other than eat out a lot, but man, we worked at that. We worked HARD.

I am sitting here trying to think of the separate experiences that i've retained in my memory.  Normally I enjoy poking good fun at people who take pictures of their food, especially when it comes nowhere close to looking as good as I'm sure it tastes.  But dang if I didn't wish i had those pics now, to remind me.  But let's see what i can remember. Yup, I'm actually going to make a list.

1. I remember when I had endive for the first time. It was in a French restaurant. I bet if I tried reeeally hard, i could come up with the name of it. It was THE cutest place, all provincial-y. It also had the best bathroom I can remember.  Endive, you deliciously bitter crunchy delight, you.  Paired with a strong cheese and a sweet dressing, you can do no wrong.

2. Sean and I ate at another French place, called Payard, and had the craziest dessert ever. It was a chocolate cube with about 5 interior layers. We busted through the top to find a secret hidden treasure inside, and then another, and another! Pure magic. Desserts should always be treasure hunts.  I also tutored a guy who was a pastry chef at this same restaurant and brought desserts for me one time. Bless him. *sniff*  It was in New York where I first learned the magic and superiority of dark chocolate, though interestingly it was not anything fancy. What was it? I will tell you: dark chocolate Dove Eggs.  I was obsessed. Funnily, now those are total weak stuff for me and taste kind of like garbage (no offense).

  • First trying a really fancy pastry place and thinking we had discovered gold.  Then experiencing a few other places over the years, going back to that original place, and realizing it was rubbish. Ha ha. 
  • R-and-D (blogger won't let me use ampersands) down the street with the fanciest patio I've ever enjoyed dining on. AHH! I have been scrolling through endless pics and found some food pics! You're so LUCKY! And they are of R-and-D but I caught nothing of the patio, just us stuffing our  faces with delicious half-eaten food.  Feast your eyes on THIS:
  • hahaha, suckers
Enjoy that gourmet mac 'n cheese you beauty.
Sean is either super engrossed in his food or extremely confused by it. Or both. He's eaten it so it must have been good.

  • That mushroom soup at Greenwich Bistro. Sean's heaven would include mushroom soup. 
  • That avocado popsicle at Kaz An Nou, french carribbean fusion. That place was so good, I almost cried. Or may have. And the waiter was the owner. I think his wife was the chef.
  • The restaurant near us called James, where everything tasted like it had just been picked from the garden because it had been. The owners and chefs live upstairs and grow all the herbs right there. 
  • French toast from across the street. Slices of peasant bread drenched in an egg wash of orange oil and fairy dust, I have dried SO hard to recreate this and can't figure it out. It's so wet, not dry and heavy like a french toast brick. Is it a quick sear in a hot pan? Maybe. I'll figure you out one day, French toast! Onnne daaay! *shaking fist*



I know this is really boring so I'll stop. But I do not exaggerate when I say these experiences were, indeed, spiritual.  And, about the pizza--we keep trying to somehow recreate it here even though I know it's futile. Everything we've ever ordered or purchased here is nowhere near it. Sean once went to Papa Murphy's and ordered a plain crust with sauce, that's all. This was in attempts to make our own margherita pizza. Sauce, basil, and fresh mozz.  Everyone stared at him and made him repeat the order again and again. "he wants what? with NOTHING?" The pizza turned out really bad but when we make it with our own crust, sometimes with pepperoni, though it isn't even close to the dream, it is delish and my favorite here.

RECIPE: We get dough and pizza sauce from Trader Joe's. Slice on the fresh mozz, toss on the basil and sprinkle some olive oil. You won't be disappointed.

Food, glorious food. Thank you, New York, for showing me what food could really be. For Valentine's Day I ordered some chocolates from chocolatier L.A. Burdick and Sean and I almost wept as we sliced each tiny bonbon in half. Felt like we had transported back, just for a quick bite. If only.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

City Love

Happy Valentine's.  To preface, a brief recap:


-I moved from UT to NY in 2003. 
-I started this blog which was a birthday present, in 2005.
-I left NY and returned to UT in 2014.
-I am still in UT.

I wrote this blog post a year+ ago (indented portion). Since then it's been sitting, forgotten in my drafts, and then I found it. As I am currently in the throes of mourning I thought I'd work on it and publish it for today. Seems appropriate.

I miss New York, bad. At the time, I always felt that it was awesomely unusual, but now that I'm away, living in a place where you're with such like-minded people so as to constantly be talking about the place you're living in is something I am now sorely missing. To live in a place that is as big, as palpable of a presence, a personality in your life as all your best friends and from time to time, worst enemies.

I now live in a place where no one cares about where I've lived, where i've been.  And maybe this has been true for my blog as well but now i'm just realizing it? No one really wanted to read so much about New York? This could be so, and it's ok if that's true.   But these days I feel like it's slipping away. It feels like a dream, that strange life I once lived that shaped so much of who I am.  Where it once felt so real, as each moment goes by, that feeling fades. And I'm afraid. I'm afraid if i don't talk about it, then it will be as if it never was.  And it is the sweetest kind of heartbreak I've ever experienced in my life. Other than with Sean and Julian, I would say it's the only time I've ever really been in love. And that love was real, long-lasting, and ran deep. It will never go away completely and I'm filled with such a deep gratitude and satisfaction, I DO know, actually, that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. And it hurts so good. 

Sean and I talk about it here and there, everywhere. Comparing and contrasting.  I told him the sad truth, "Sean, now that we're gone, we don't own it anymore. It isn't ours. We can't claim it."  I don't really want to believe this but I'm afraid it is true. 

Written in 2013 whilst still living there:


This may surprise you, but I actually have a lot of thoughts regarding an intense attachment to one's city.  I love where I grew up. It will always be a part of me.  But when I moved to New York, something inside, whose existence i had always had a sneaking suspicion of, was awakened and sprang to life. I attached to this city immediately.

When I was 20 I went on a trip to France with my sister which was awesome. Loved every second of it. Of course I loved everything about it-- every town, every place, every piece of food that went in my mouth, etc.  But I remember wandering about in Marseille or Paris, seeing people eat outside at a cafe and thinking, that is the life for me.

I remember driving friends to or from the airport and looking wistfully up at the sky and departing airplanes and thinking, take me with you. Desperate for an adventure.  I didn't know where, exactly, but I know that Big City had an awful nice ring to it.

June 2013 marks the 10 year anniversary of meeting Sean.  When I met him, I liked him immediately. Everything was easy. Sean told me he was going to Pratt, the art school in Brooklyn, NY, that fall. Well that's awesome, was my thought. And nothing more. My brother, who was friends with Sean, told me as a warning that Sean would be going to New York that fall, so maybe.. you know.. keep that in mind.  And not for a second did I think I wouldn't be joining him there.  And not for a second did I think I would be, because that would have been crazy talk, so early in the game.  Not like when we actually had the "marriage talk" which was a solid three weeks into the relationship.  Hey, I like to be sure.  But that's a story for another day.   But I think I knew subconsciously that Big City and I would finally meet, and it just felt right.   I expressed my excitement about this to Sean and, in an effort to defend and protect himself and his feelings, declared jokingly(?) "I am not New York!"      Yeah, yeah. Lucky for him, I liked him just about as much as I did the idea of living here. 
My fellow Utah resident, friend, and birthday twin Melissa spent some time in Boston and developed her own city love. One day upon her return to Utah she sent me the following message:

Sometimes when I let my mind wander I think about Boston. Not necessarily about the people, or the work I did there, but of the PLACE. And then I think - how is this possible? This level of love is almost impossibly intense, how can I be so emotionally attached to a CITY?

And then I think of you, and the way you can so satisfyingly articulate city love, and I'm grateful.

Thanks for making me feel okay about feeling so much.


  This sounds like a humble brag, also known as a backdoor brag. Oh, and she said something really nice about me? I hardly noticed. :) 

To honor this, and to pay due tribute to my grief, I'm going to do a series. It's going to be super boring. I know, after a while no one wants to hear it anymore. And you may hate it, and I'm sorry. But I just can't not. I'm not done yet. I have more I need to say, particularly right now going through this transition.  I'm sure that as the days go by, having gotten it all out will satisfy me and though I might always feel the feelings, I know that I expressed them at one point and it will be enough for me. But for now, a tribute to my grief. A series of New York things I miss, for a city I have loved, will always love. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Two Good Names

1. Scanning some msn article about a man who laced his wife's energy drink with cyanide (yup. I'm busy. I'm a busy woman. Gotta lot of things to do). Defense attorney's name: 

William Difenderfer. 

Now, let's say something happens and I end up marrying this guy and take his name. What's my name gonna be? Say it with me:
Jennifer Difenderfer

Think Sean will let us legally change it anyway? We could all be Difenderfers. 


2. I walked by the bedroom where sean is working and heard him say, "hello, yes, could I please speak to Lulu Lippincott..."    

And, aside from seriously questioning if he's really "working" and has a "job" at all,  I am de-lighted. :D

I think this is a sign that I should finally track down Mrs. Zita Hudnut and get all three of these people together. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Anniversary of Arches

In early October some months ago I was sprawled, 20% on the couch, 80% on the floor, back at an indefinite angle, neck awkwardly bent forward, looking through a slideshow of 10 Life-Changing Utah Trails  and I said to Sean, "That. That is what I want to do with you."   So for our 11th anniversary, we packed our hiking shoes, aka whatever athletic shoes with laces we had, hats and visors and set off.  I can't tell you how magically wonderful it is to live by family and to be able to leave Julian there.  I will never, ever EVER take this for granted. We are in transition, the length of our stay here is in question. We have yet to discover any answers so that is where we are for now, and I am trying to enjoy and appreciate the things I have right now.

Our destination: Devil's Garden in Arches National Park. Guess who grew up with two thumbs in Utah and has never been to Arches, not once? THIS GIRL.

Our first stop was the temple where Sean and I got hitched one beautiful fall day.  We tried to re-enact one of the poses our photographer had us do and asked a guy who was doing some sketches if he might could take our picture. He was happy to oblige and I think we nailed it. 






One more stop before making the 3.5 hour drive to the magical land of visions and wonders (mindboggling that it's so close) was to the mall. This is going to sound really sad but how fun is it to go to the mall with just your spouse?? Oh man.  We ran around, went on stuffed animal races, had two rounds of Japanese desserts where the total of our order was $10.23 on October 23 and we gasped and exclaimed, "ten twenty-three!"  much to his confusion. We explained, too excitedly, and the nice kid gave us a dollar off, which was nice, but kind of ruined the significance. It did make me think of my pal Andrea though, whose birthday is 9/23. And we went into a teen store and bought ourselves ridiculous and cheap shoes. And then we set off.

We rolled in late and stayed in a hotel. We woke up early, put on what we thought might be "hiking clothes"(?) and set off.  I can't even begin to describe my feelings about being here. I feel like my soul has been starved of real, dead-serious earthly beauty for so long, it was all I could do to not just start opening up my mouth to the heavens and chomp my jaws wildly in the air, trying to take an actual bite. (you're welcome for that visual)



(I'm just going to pause a moment to make it last a bit longer)



And so we embarked on a 40-minute drive to the Devil. We followed our map of landmarks and took in the scenery around us. This rock blocking the morning sun is called, you guessed it, Balanced Rock.

 

I'm going to try to let the pics do the talking but I'll just get a few more words over with here because words are how I convey my feels.  How do I describe.  How. Hmmm...  let me think a minute.

*time passes*

Well, the article was right. Life-changing indeed. It was a spiritual experience for us both.  Do you ever have moments in your life where you find yourself face-to-face with something so strong and powerful that you feel completely stripped of everything else? Noise and worry, thoughts and distraction.  You're standing there exposed, looking at this creation, and all of a sudden you feel like you've been thrust into the middle of a conversation with God that you didn't know you were in and you might find yourself quietly saying words that you didn't know you had in you. You are humbled and reverent and you're given this urgent and very hungry appetite to see more and more.  It's a very raw, invigorating and important feeling to feel from time to time, I think. It had been a while for me.  A serious shock to my eyes and soul, it invited us in and we eagerly went forth.

The Devil's Garden is scattered with trails and arches and viewpoints and canyons, hills and vales, sometimes pools.  The whole hike, including all the spurs (which i learned are side trails to see a certain formation, most likely an arch. They're impossible to resist because you can't see the featured formation from the main path. You HAVE to go find out what it is.) is seven miles. We did it all. It was the best ever.

View:



The hike started out walking on sandy trails. Fairly flat. We were excited but also serious about this hike:



You weren't supposed to go off the trail but some things we said, sorry, no can do. -- famous last words.  JK we kept safe but some things we just had to see. HAD TO.






Sean is tiny. Scratch that, what i mean is, that arch is big.


Sean was afraid when I wanted to climb up on this big rock early in the hike. It was off the path and therefore not allowed but we had to. It was scary. And, it's so weird how un-used to being in nature we were.  In some pics you may notice little tiny piles of stones. I can't remember the name of these but if you see them, you're on the trail, sometimes the "trail" being a big ol' rock that just goes up and up. If you don't see them, you're lost and you will probably slip and fall to your death.  And we were like, that's it?? No printed signs?? Rails? Guides??  Not that we wanted any of those things but they're just part of the kind of atmosphere we are accustomed to.  It took us a long time to trust ourselves with scaling rock walls and really scary looking trails that we were meant to put our faith in based on nothing.  We'd look up at a narrow stretch of rock with dozens of feet to chasms below on either side and be like, uhhh, seriously? That's the path? You want us to go there? And then we just had to do it and it was scary. Anyway, the big rock that gave us the million dollar view.



The view was CRAZY. 
The whole thing is like one big hallucination.
It can't be real. It cannot be real.
This paragraph looks like a poem.



Look at these wacky wood formations. What's that about, Nature? Huh?


We got an early start so didn't see many people at first but we did pass some hikers coming the opposite direction. At the beginning there is a fork in the road. You can go left or right. We went right, this other couple apparently went left and when we passed them close to our beginning they looked so haggard and beat. They saw us starting out and said, "good luck" and we said, "what's at the end of this thing?? some wild beast?"  or something like that that was funny and not rude as it sounds. It was kind of exciting/unsettling though. What were we in store for?


At one point we came to a pool of water.  It was dark in the middle and we had no idea how deep it is. We tried scaling the walls but they were much too steep. And again, we were completely out of our comfort/knowedge zone. We had no idea what hikers on this trail were meant to do, you know? Like, oh, is this normal? Ok then. -As we scale a completely perpendicular wall held on by some kind of hiker's gravity. 

Hiker's gravity, a term i just made up, is what keeps hikers onto rocks that are curved, slick, and just seem impossible to climb. It really felt physically impossible, that it would defy all laws of physics to just hop up onto this wall with non-hiker shoes and not slip back down to your death.  But we did it. As mentioned, early on we didn't trust ourselves but gradually that trust grew and we became more comfortable leaping over wide gaps from rock to rock, using our momentum and a prayer to get us there. It felt amazing.

After many failed attempts to wall-scale, and still unsure of the pool's depth, we took off our shoes and tip-toed around the pool's edge to the opening on the other side.  It seems silly now but we seriously were stumped, and stunned. They expect us to do what??

This is Sean trying to walk along the edge without slipping into the puddle. Finally I took off my shoes and sidled along the edge and he had to follow because there was no other way.






It was now when I began to remember my old nature-loving, live-in-the-wild self. Little Kid Jen. I've missed her. 


We saw so many arches. I couldn't keep track of them all. But they were all magnificent.






I don't remember what I was doing here. It looks like a failure at trying to be "lifting" the arch with my finger, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't doing that.  Maybe the arch looked invisible and i was pointing it out? That seems more likely.






Here's a crazy panorama to bug out your eyes:


 This was one of my favorite parts of the hike. Lots of rock-scaling and crazy 3-dimensional views that went on forever and ever. Never before have my eyes gazed on such a sight. A brand new visual experience. You just can't tell how many layers of rock there are. Infinity, that's how many. I loved the tall narrow passageways and the feeling those giant rocks enclosed around gave us.


 


 











This was a cool arch. It was big and glorious to stand under

This wall is on the other side. I climbed up because I had now become one with the hike and had Hiker's Gravity. 



This was toward the end of our hike. So hot, so tired. And I found the perfect hole to take a nap in:




This was the last biggie of the hike. I think they called this one Double O or something like that? Two holes, see. They were huge. You hiked up a wall on the other side to view it. This pic was taken from down below:


And from the big wall across the way:
 

I think you can see a tiny person standing on the middle part?

As mentioned, we broke a couple of "stay on the path" rules. Here was another one of them. What's in there?? We had to know.







One of the last spurs and one we debated taking because we were finally losing energy.  But of course we did it and it took us to this crazy monolith called Dark Angel.  And we saw a rabbit along the way. On this path I remember being very loopy and we had a ton of really good jokes and quotes but I remember none of them.




Panorama of the valley with Dark Angel over to the side:


I'm not sure when I took this pic and  i may have already used it but oh well, isn't it pretty?



This was one of the scariest off-the-trail spots. This long, increasingly narrow rock jutted out with very steep, deep drops on either side. 

Here's a pic taken at the edge of that one that we snapped and then fled immediately so as not to slip down to the fathoms below. so scary!


And that brings us to the end of my pictures. If you're looking for a total soul rejuvenation and overhaul of the spirits, go here. Find a way and do it. It was the best thing we'd done in a long time. Thanks again, Red Rock Country.  We'll see you again real soon.