Monday, September 5, 2011

The Summer of Feeling: A Labor Day Coda

Summer 2011 was the summer of feeling. It started and ended with a trip to both Mr. Softee and Absolute Bagels, and the promise of something good to come. In May, I was kind of worried about what I was doing with the summer, but it all worked out. In September, I'm still kind of undecided, but I'm really excited about the possibilities that lay ahead.

Summer 2011 was the summer of finally realizing I didn't need a boy, and in doing so finding one. I started with a romantic fizzle, and decided the male species could go fuck itself. This made me happier and more independent, and thus caught me a certain boy toy by June's end. Even though this too went south, we still had some good times. The summer ended with another romantic no-go, so I'm swearing off boys again. You got to do you in the summer of feeling.

Summer 2011 was the summer of saying a final fuck you the accumulated freshman and sophomore 15 and getting fit again. I ran like nobody's business, a habit that I hope continues. I drank a hell of a lot less than during the year, and smoked little to no weed. It was a summer of moderation, but not temperance (sweet wounded Jesus not temperance).

Summer 2011 was the summer of social justice. Living in a crap (but wonderful!) neighborhood and teaching in a crap (but wonderful!) neighborhood was such a needed change from the mighty whitey hegemony of Morningside Heights. If you want something to get you off your high horse, teach for an at risk youth program. After a week of icky Eat Pray Love style "appreciation", I fell into a nice balance with the kids and the surroundings. I hope I make it out to Crown Heights again soon. It's a nice place to live.

Summer 2011 was the summer of realizing who matters. There is nothing quite like living an hour away from everything to teach you who you actually like. I saw the people I wanted to see, and appreciated them all the more for it. I missed the people I missed, and if we're reunited now, plan to appreciate them all the more for it. I had a pretty bomb dot com roommate that made the whole time fly by.

Summer 2011 was the summer of living the dream. Oh, was it ever.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

10. Things That Make Me Happy, Part 3

Fluted Removable Tart Pans

So I made this fun shortbread recipe the other day to crumble on blueberries to make boy bait, and then I thought: This could be the start of a wonderful thing! So I raced to Sur La Table (#bougie) and bought a fluted removable tart pan. I altered the shortbread recipe a little bit, and baked it into a tart shell. There are so many possibilities before me now. I could fill it with pastry cream, and then strawberries. I could put lemon curd in it and eat it. I could put banana puree in it and then a meringue and bake it for a little bit. I could run all sorts of berries in a food processor and spread it all over the top, plus a marzipan or frangipane crust. SO MANY POSSIBILITIES. All due to a fluted removable tart pan. We go together well, like peanut butter and jelly or batman and robin.

Bo Burnham

This kid is like 20, but is so fucking funny and witty. It amazes me what he does with wordplay. Bo Burnham is making puns sexy again. Here are some lyrics: "I love you like a gay geneticist loves designer jeans/I need you like New Orleans needs a drought/Like Hitler's father needed to learn to pull out". If you have access to Netflix, watch his comedy central special, and enjoy.

Unlimited Metrocards

The other day, I went to Borough Hall to read, then the Met to see the McQueen exhibit again, then I went to the library, and then this bakery in Brooklyn, then to BedStuy to take a nice walk home. I took the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, A, C, J, F, and M trains. And it all costs 3.47 per day. Now THAT I can get behind. I see so many random places in the city and it is just wonderful. I love the freedom to just go where you want to go. This is greatly aided by not having schoolwork, but hush. I can go read my books wherever I want to. Right now, I'm typing this on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library, and I might go lay in Prospect Park for a while.

Fresh Vanilla Beans

I know, I know, another baking one. But honestly, having a fresh vanilla bean, rather than extract has made all the difference. I am never going back. Not ever. You can steep it in cream to make ridiculously good creme brulee/pastry cream. You can put it in your sugar to turn your sugar into vanilla sugar. Will I flavor my ganache and lemon curd with vanilla beans? No, that would be stupid. However, I will not accept any substitute in all of my custards, cremes, pound cakes, layer cakes, etc. And now I'm going to go sniff my vanilla sugar jar for the third time today.


Warning: do not visit unless you have time. Search your favorite movie, and then click through the list of probably dozens of tropes that it uses. And then click these to see their uses in other works. This is the easiest way I know of to waste much more time than I feel comfortable admitting on the internet. I highly recommend for hours of "Oh I never thought of that!" and "Wow all fiction is very derivative!"

Sunday, June 5, 2011

9. Uses For A Creme Brulee Torch

Some good friends got me a creme brulee torch for my birthday, and I have come up with many uses for it. Here are some of them.

Making Creme Brulee

This is fairly obvious, but I have been making creme brulee like it is my job. And seeing as I don't have one of those, I could consider my job. There are worse things. Anyway, there is nothing like piling on sugar and then TORCHING IT until it turns caramelly and golden and wonderful. Then you have to wait a hot second for it to cool, which is an amazing minute or so, but then. Deliciousness. Also, when you hit the stop with a spoon and it makes that crack there is no better sound in the world. No better sound. I made creme brulee last night (you need to let it sit in a fridge to firm up before you TORCH IT) in four ramekins and I have one left. Needless to say, creme brulee is firmly embedded in my baking repertoire already. Next time I am trying fun flavors because I can't think of a thing I would like as much as six little creme brulees fanned out in front of me: vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, strawberry, maple, and raspberry. And I get to crack all of their tops with a spoon.

Smoking Salvia

So when you smoke weed the THC is rendered into its active form between 351 and 380 degrees Fahrenheit (177 to 191 Celsius). A normal butane lighter accomplishes this very well, and whee weed. But when you smoke Salvia, the active compounds are released at 464 Fahrenheit and above (240 Celsius). This heat is very hard to attain from a normal cigarette lighter, so while you can make due, the best way to smoke salvia is with something with a little more heft. Enter my creme brulee torch. You can control the flame perfectly well, and you get the best salvia smoking experience. And by that I mean, the light from the ceiling will bounce down and then splinter into a million pieces and then you'll get sucked to the center of the earth.

Literally Playing With Fire

Since I got this torch I have spent so much time just turning it on and giggling and watching all the crazy things you can do with the flame. Side note: you can make a seven inch flame! This is so fun. And the clouds of gas are kind of scary, as is the enormous and incredibly blue and hot flame, but it's so fun. I learned from my parents' burn piles on their ranch that I am a bit of a pyro, and this torch is enabling that in a big way.

Defending Against Intruders

If anyone ever tried to break into my apartment, I would not reach for a pan or a knife, and I wouldn't break a beer bottle. I wouldn't even run and hide like a normal person, or even better call the cops. I would instead calmly grab my creme brulee torch, and LIGHT THE MOTHERFUCKER ON FIRE. Yes, I realize that they might have a gun. Yes, I realize that this is incredibly dangerous. Yes, I realize that I would probably light my building on fire, destroying my things and therefore undoing the point of this. BUT. I would also most likely be featured in some sort of local news story about how someone lit an intruder on fire. I would be imitating Lisbeth Salander, which is not a bad thing in this case. I would bring badassery back to the pastry chef title. And I would have the best story for what you did last summer.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

8. Things That Make Me Happy, Part 2

The Baking Frenzy I've Embarked Upon

The title of this time in my life could be "Losing your mind entirely to thoughts of silly named desserts featuring seasonal berries and other delicious things." Slumps, buckles, boy bait, bettys; they all have been getting their due time in my kitchen. It's fun too because it's been a change from the really oversweet indulgent desserts. Like nice, light, and not to sweet cakes and confections. It works the best to fight this heat.

Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials

God, these books are good. It is so refreshing to see children's novels that pose serious questions and interact with mature themes in a way that isn't dumbed down at all. They have been described as an inversion of Paradise Lost, where the devil is the hero, and the Fall is something to be embraced as fundamental to human nature. They're really interesting is what I'm saying! Also the way he mixes childlike fantasy (armored polar bears and witches and all that stuff) with serious discussions of dark matter and killing God.

The Two Aussie Flight Attendants I Went Out With Last Night

God, you two are such goons! Love it. They are friends of friends of friends, but we still went together well. It was their first time in the city, and we went to the Ritz, and the guy met this random person and comes up to me and says "How far away is Queens? I'mma have a biff with this guy and meet up with you tomorrow." And then the girl and I went to Empanada Mama's and talked about life and being a flight attendant and silly things. And then I got back to Brooklyn at 6:00.

Bon Iver

It's so poignant and simple. It never really gets old. Plus, when you play it on your record player so you can't really leave the room, and it's hot enough that all you want to do is sit in front of a fan on your floor and it's nice. Plus when your apartment smells like some sort of silly strawberry patch from the cake your baking you feel like all your sense are stimulated in the best way.

Magnets With Words On Them For Your Fridge

They are so whimsical! And retro! You get to make random sentences that might or might not mean anything and then forget about them and then reread them later and normally they are very silly! Also my subletters have the New Zealand set, so it has "Vegemite" and such as part of it. Also the vocabulary is normally limited, so you can't really just write things, you have to learn to say what the magnets want you to say. Like the Illuminati.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

7. Things That Make Me Happy, Part 1

My whole blog is turning into a collection of things I like! I'm so down with this.

Born This Way

I like this song. I like the message. I like the dance in the music video, after that weird spoken introduction. I recognize that it sounds exactly like Express Yourself (except a little better (OHIWENTTHERE)). I recognize that using the terms "Lebanese" and "Orient" is kind of gross. I recognize that "Don't be a drag..." is kind of dumb. But! I also recognize that it is a great song to run to, and as my mother says, if some closeted kid in Alabama listens to it ten times a day rather than killing himself, I'm okay with that.

Homemade Oreos

Yes, I realize this is s-ing my own d. Tooting my own horn. Liking my own status. Highfiving myself. But in response, OM NOM NOM. With milk.

The Quotes from Margaux I Found Packing

"You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting." and "She said she usually cried at least once each day not because she was sad, but because the world was so beautiful and life was so short."
Margaux finds the best quotes.

Joey Comeau

In a similar vein as the quotes, Joey Comeau is this Canadian writer. He writes these incredibly macabre web comics called A Softer World, and I just love his style. It's the perfect mix of whimsy without that hipster pretension or affectedness. I honestly believe him when he describes himself like this: "Joey is a firm believer in the idea that if you can't be a good example, you have an obligation to be a horrible warning. He writes the comic. He has a degree in linguistics which really only comes in handy when smart-asses try to correct his grammar at parties. He really, really likes candy. Like, sour candies mostly. Fuzzy peaches. Sour grapes. But man, yeah. Candy."

My Large Novelty High Heel Leopard Print Shoe Chair

What a find! From the streets of Clinton Hill, I lugged this chair first to my friends apartment, then to my other friends apartment two miles away, then through the subway to Morningside Heights. It never fails to start a conversation, spices up my room, and is incredibly comfortable to boot. Also, there is something about receiving a beej on a stiletto chair that just screams "STORY FOR GRANDKIDS"

The Fact That I'm Living Alone For Like A Week

It's so fun! Basically all this translates to is that I can run around my floor naked (which I proved by going from the very end of one suite to the very end of the one on the other side in nothing but flip flops). And have a drink in my room without feeling hyper paranoid. I can also be loud, although I haven't taken advantage of this yet. Disadvantages: I peed on the seat once and I knew I had to clean it up because I couldn't blame it on my male suitemates.

The Promise of Summer 2011

This summer is going to be a good one I feel. Not just because I feel like I can be wild without being (as) irresponsible, but also because it's going to take place for a large part in Brooklyn. Is Summer 2011 the summer of feeling? Time will only tell. Maybe I'll get a bike! Maybe I'll get ripped (ha)! Maybe I'll start having sex again! I love this three months of promise that just hangs in front of me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

6. Some Reasons Not to Kill Yourself Today, Part 1

Part of this is informed as my experience as a closeted kid in the 'burbs, part of this is informed by being a depressed kid in New York over my head, part of this is informed by Google searches. Here are some things that I think are better than killing yourself.

Really Catchy Pop Songs

Don't you dare lie and say you don't enjoy it when Lady Gaga/Madonna/Adele/diva of choice is singing her heart out. Music is this little escape from whatever is bothering you into what is bothering someone else, usually accompanied by some sort of declaration of their superiority/indifference/will to persevere. The number of times I sit in my room and listen to Cher's "Believe" multiple times before I go and start my day is not low. And that is fine. Because we were born this way. Gaga.

Those Empowering Things You Say Over and Over

Somethings that work for me are "Haters gon' hate" "Whatever. You only live once." "I don't give A SHIT" "We are who we are. (Ke$ha.)" It's just this great way you can snappily remind yourself that a lot of the time things aren't going to work out, or people are going to judge you, or that whatever is getting you down will not win. If you have to say "Haters gon' hate" to yourself three dozen times a day, then there's nothing wrong with that and welcome to the club. It's better to have a stock response, because then you don't spend time thinking about whatever is getting you down.


When I'm at school and not feeling it, I go to Riverside Park and watch the sunset over New Jersey, which turns from kind of bland thing across the Hudson to pretty collection of twinkly lights. I love sunsets because there's just this random explosion at the end of the day of these bright bright colors or alternatively muted purples and pinks and yellows. It's just a break from blue in the day or the dark navy of night. Plus, sunsets are always the best on days when it's a little smoggy or cloudy, which to make an overwrought metaphor, means that when you're feeling the most steely and grey, the sunset is the most vivid and fun. I like to think that sunsets are great because you also don't have to do anything but watch them, and that's a lot less time thinking about your problems. Like, my brain chemistry might be fucked up but THAT IS A FUCKING DOPE SHADE OF PINK.

Your Friends

I know, I know, raging cliche. But when I'm having a dark day, you just go talk to someone and they can be having a bad day and then you are together in it, or they can be really happy which normally rubs off on you. They could say something funny, or something interesting, and it makes you feel less lonely for a second. The other thing about friends is most people deep down are there for you. When you need a hug, any friend worth their weight in piss will hug you. And that's nice to know, as someone who needs hugs a lot. Plus, sometimes just seeing someone smile when they see that it's you is all your self-esteem needs. And they never have to know if you don't want to tell them, but if you do then they normally feel happier. Happiness is not zero-sum, and that's part of why it's so great.


It gets better. In a rare example of the Internet really being an unequivocal force for good in the world, this campaign just reinforces that things change. For me, when I was closeted, I hated myself and thought I would never find happiness or true love and was destined to die without a family. When I came out, and I realized what other people think doesn't have to be what I think, I was better. Yeah, I had to deal with a whole new set of issues, but after that I moved to New York and the homophobia by and large dissipated, or at least concealed itself better. I still get pretty melancholic here, but at least now it's about different things. I'm sure I'll stop being sad about what troubles me now someday sooner or later, and find something new to be sad about. The takeaway is the world is too dynamic and too interesting for you to stay the same way. Whatever is troubling you at any time will go away, maybe forever, maybe for a little bit. And that's nice. Things change, so if you were dealt a shitty hand, sooner or later you'll get a new deal.

Takeaway: if you feel like suicide, reconsider. More people than you think are feeling the same way, and there are some pretty good reasons to decide against it. Call a hotline. It feel so awkward at first, but at least it's a couple hours you didn't spend looking at a razor. Just remember to make the decision every day not to kill yourself. Whatever gets you through the easy days and the hard days, that's fine. If anyone says otherwise, remember Hater gon' hate.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

5. How I See the Universe

I am a little bit sleep deprived, and not on any drugs I swear, but this is how I see the universe this really altruistic nice thing.

The sun and the earth are in this contract, where the earth revolves around the sun thereby giving it on the surface the power. But the thing is, if the earth didn't revolve around the sun then the sun would just be a huge burning garganutan fireball hanging in the void. The earth gives its life meaning and makes it into this celestial anchor that holds down eight planets and many many thousand rotating bodies. Like the prevailing myth that the top is in control in gay sex, the sun only seems to be in control of the solar system. There is a reciprocity in between the sun and its orbiting bodies.

The stars seem pretty chill. Like I can't tell if they are stoner bros that like to just hang out and "twinkle" (if that's not a reference to a trip I don't know what is). They just make up this shiny curtain of dragonfly lights on the arbor of the universe. Alternatively maybe they are crying for help. Like they give off light because they want some hunk of rock to come orbit around them and give their life meaning. Does having orbiting bodies give a star's existence meaning? So like is having a lot of them having a lot of kids or having really successful one? I feel like the sun is that mom at soccer games that brags about her kids. Like "I have sentient life forms" is the new "My kid got into Harvard with a full ride". But I think the sun is not an asshole. The sun seems pretty chill.

I'm not on anything. I swear.