November 29, 2007

So They Do Have A Line

I'm a very private person, by nature. I understand that the only person you can truly trust to keep a secret is yourself.

Some of us are lucky enough to have friends who will keep our secrets as if they were their own. And we should be very, very, thankful.

But, from my perspective, the profound respect for and tight-lipped silence in response to one's desire to share with one and only one person, particularly if that person is not a permanent monogamous significant other, is rare.

So, if you are me, you can imagine how weird the larger soul-bearing aspect of the social networking phenomenon is. I've read articles that have said that the difference between today's youth and my generation is that today's youth understands that the concept of privacy is a myth and thus they bare everything and anything for all to see on the Internet. After all, the sheer volume of information should obscure it (unless, of course, the search algorithms keep getting smarter...)

Today, it seems, there is at least a partial line to the lack of privacy. Some of the users of Facebook stood up to the platform and said, "Stop Using My Information In A Way I Don't Like." And good for them.

Reading about it makes me smile. It's very weird. In more than one way, Facebook is like a government regulating a sovereign nation with a representative democracy populus: the majority is too busy gossiping, shopping, and posting drunken pictures of themselves to be political, but there is a minority who pick fights, and thanks to them, the whole is better.

November 25, 2007

7 Things you don't know about me

Like Beanie, who tagged me, I too try to be a relatively anonymous blogger.

But, there are plenty of people who read this who know me in the meatworld, too. Many of them probably know me better than I know myself. In fact, because some of my close friends and family read this, I'm not totally sure I could come up with 7 things that none of my readers knew about me.

So, I present 7 things about me that the readers most don't know and those who know me in real life *may* not know.

1. I want a dog as a pet even though I'm severely allergic to them and do not have the time or proper space to care for one.

2. I have a ridiculous maternal instinct. When children cry, I want to comfort them so much that it hurts.

3. I went through a several year phase where I didn't like to eat white creamy food. No mayonnaise, no milk, no white sauce, no yogurt, no ranch dressing, no egg-based custards. I have recovered on all counts except the mayonnaise and the ranch dressing, which I still do my best to avoid.

4. I love reptiles.

5. I generally don't eat sweet fruits. You know, the things everyone thinks of when they think of fruit: apples, bananas, apricots, peaches, oranges, pears, berries, cherries. I just don't like 'em that much, although on occasion, they are fabulous. But, my favorite foods almost all include unsweet fruits like eggplant, zucchini, peppers, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc.

6. I can not be trusted to keep my own keys.

7. The women in my family all get an Eblskiver pan as a gift at some point. Wherever we are, we make Ebleskivers for Christmas and Thanksgiving breakfast.

And with that, I tag JayKay.

November 24, 2007

Leave the Big Bag at home

We're back.

We just rolled (literally, think elephant seals) back into the house after another one of our gluttonous holiday trips to the South to spend time with E's friends and family.

If there's one thing we learned this trip, it's this: don't use the huge over-sized luggage that allows you to pack 3 bottles of wine plus clothes for two for a week. It'll just cost you in the end. As in, hand over a surprise $50 (okay, not so surprise if you've paid it once before, but still) if your bag is over 50 lb. We were a healthy 64 lbs.

There was nothing we could do, so we paid $50 in over-weight fees after requiring the gate agent to confirm that yes, if we packed two bags, both would have been well under the 50 lb. limit but the plane would be heavier due to the additional luggage. The confirmation didn't provide much comfort.

On our return flight, we were lighter thanks to the consumption and enjoyment of the Ariston Fils and 2 bottles of Per Bacco Chardonnay. But, to be safe, we put about 10 lbs into a throw-away piece of luggage from E's parents that hadn't been used since the 80s. Both the duck-taped throw-away and the large luggage will be going to Good Will very soon.

In other not-so-news, we ate and drank too well.

The first evening (after E's mom's homemade lunch of open-faced prosciuttto, gorgonzola, violet, and honey sandwiches) we started the true debauchery with cheese and a Cotes du Rhone that was a favorite of E's dad. From there, we crashed E's sister and her man's dinner plans and enjoyed a fabulous dinner for six at Food Studio. Predictably, E, the reason we were subscribed to the bacon of the month club, started this culinary trip to the South with a dinner of pork belly, while I enjoyed my parsnip soup and salmon. With our appetizers, we laughed and caught up over a bottle of Roederer Estate. And, with dinner, we enjoyed a botttle of 2002 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir from Testarossa, a gift we'd given to E's dad several years ago. It had aged to perfection -- cherry notes but the fruit had mellowed to a warm, comfortable, light acid, and the oak contributed a long finish without excess vanilla, which was wonderful to enjoy with family, over good food. And, of course, like almost every meal this trip, although we were full, we all opted in to dessert.

This general theme of overindulgence continued for the next few days with interruptions only for important events such as a three-extended-family Thanksgiving extravaganza (which was so much more than simple overindulgence) and a trip to waffle house (which was required).

One meal of note: we were lucky enough to return to Bacchanalia with E's best man and wife for our second perfectly executed meal there. The food was just as sublime as I recalled from our last visit, with excellent combinations and contrasts of seasonal and local flavors as well as innovative palate cleansers (watermellon smoothie!).

If possible, the service was even better than last time. The cheese plate execution had improved (a feat I would have thought impossible) with the addition of a slice of a tree as a plate, which has been pre-loaded with artisanal honey, olives, marmalade, and bread. This allows you to focus on selecting your four cheeses from the tray (which, after the wine pairing and sensory overload of the grougeres, and two full courses with palate cleansers, is a difficult enough decision on its own). At $72 for four courses ($10 supplement for cheese, $115 with wine pairing), this restaurant easily competes with and outdoes many well-recognized and michelin-stared San Francisco restaurants, some of which charge double. In short, it is an amazing value for well-executed, prix-fixe, haute cuisine and I encourage you to visit before the market economy does its thing.

Oh, and they had a course with pork belly (although the portion was significantly smaller and more reasonable than food studio), so E smiled his way through pork belly meal number two on our fourth day.

It's good to be home. I look forward to a week of vegetarian healthful meals, yoga, and mellow taper runs before the marathon next weekend.

November 15, 2007

Better than fast food

E is traveling for work tonight. I tried to talk a colleague from work into going out for dinner, but she stayed to work... very dedicated, she is.

So, for the first time in a long, long, time I found myself cooking for one tonight. On the way home, I considered stopping at subway, but I got lost in thought and then I was at the driveway, and, well... yeah.

So, I made a dinner that I'd never make for my husband. Or, I wouldn't have until tonight. I surprised myself with it's tastiness, since I was fairly certain it was going to be merely consumable. Wonders never cease.

*Really* clean out the pantry/fridge dinner for one

-2 T butter
-1 small can sliced carrots, at least 1 year old
-1 small can green peas, at least 1 year old
-1/4 yellow onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic minced
-1/2 bunch fresh dill, removed from stems
-1/2 bunch fresh parsely, removed from stems
-cayenne pepper

1. In a small frying pan, melt butter over medium heat until it barely starts to foam, add garlic for 1-2 minutes 'til golden-brown.

2. Add onion and stir for 1 minute.

3. Add carrots & peas, stir for 3-4 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, add parsely, dill, and sprinkle with cayenne to taste.

5. Enjoy the surprisingly tasty, cheap, and easy dinner for one. You doubt it, because I did, but it's actually better than fast food. And when you're solo for the night... why not?

Yeah. I know. Without E, I'd be a different woman. There were 10 minutes of singing and dancing in the kitchen tonight when I was supposed to be doing dishes. Hilarious -- it was like friday night dance without your pants with JayKay, only it's not friday, and I was wearing pants, and JayKay wasn't there, and there was no music... you get the picture? I'm nutso. Certifiable. And I need to get back to my diligence. But I swear, I'm not procrastinating...

There are few things in the world that feel better than a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep after several nights of nightmares and insomnia.


November 11, 2007

A very full day

Yesterday, by 11:20 AM I'd finished the twenty mile round-trip from bayfront park in Menlo Park to the Newark Slough and back. The view South from the top of the Dumbarton Bridge is gorgeous (even if the weather is preparing to rain and you can't see very far) because the sunlight on the water in the middle of the former Dumbarton cutoff train bridge is very picturesque. The other major plus of this route is there are only two stoplights on the entire route (Willow and University). The rest is pure, uninterrupted bay trail of various quality. The biggest drawback is that about 2.5 miles from the east bay touch down of the bridge to the Newark Slough is on a very poorly paved and severely crowned road. But, there's not much traffic at all, so you can just run in the middle of the road. Even doing that, I blame this section of the run for my shin soreness for the first time during the entire marathon training.

The rest of the day was all about E, as he was the birthday boy:

-Brunch at the Diner (with bacon).

-Bowling, with drinks, Big Lebowski references, and a few of his friends. (I must admit, I did request that the television screen at the end of the lane be turned to the Cal game. But *other* than that, the rest of the day was all about E. And some newlyweds, but more on that later.)

-Presents: a chocolate bacon bar, green tea mochi ice cream, 2 bottles of good Scotch, one bottle of good tequila, homemade chocolate chip cookies, a bowling pin signed by the crew, a shampoo and a brush from RD, and a hairnet.

-The random rescheduled dinner of a chinese banquet in the world's most wacky deserted mall, wherein we found ourselves in the midst of approximately 3 weddings with music, toasts, and everything. We were *that* table. The most culinarily unique experience? The fried silver fish with salt and pepper -- the fish are bitter and you can see each of their eyes, looking at you.

-Finally, we retired to our house where we watched the Big Lebowski and sampled some of the liquors.

I went to bed at 2 AM, which, given my recent bedtime average of 10:45 PM or so, is worth mentioning as something out of the ordinary. Man, I'm old.

November 9, 2007

Tomorrow's 20-miler

Well, folks, tomorrow is the last long run before I start to taper for my second marathon.

Training for this marathon has been less disciplined than the last one. I know I can finish, so I just don't have the fear I had last time. But, I would like to improve and so I have tried to train slightly harder this time. Key word, slightly.

I've definitely trained differently this time around. My first long run for training was a bike race with E. I've run 4 races as long training runs, including last weekend's half marathon, which is only 1 month away from the marathon. And, after tomorrow, I will have done two 20-mile runs before this race instead of just one. Two weeks ago, I did the first twenty-mile jaunt as an out and back in San Jose with B (until she ditched me, that is! Speedy that B is!).

Overall, I think I've done more intense training this time, but I've been less consistent about keeping a solid pace than last time around. Last time, I was the slow and steady turtle who ever so slowly inched their comfortable speed for long distances up the grid. This time, I've pushed myself to go hard or fast on longer races and paid for it afterwards with some seriously slow recovery runs.

When I look at the data, I see that I ended up running my first marathon at a pace that was only 3 seconds faster than the pace I kept on the 20 mile run. This time, my first 20 mile run was even slower than the one I did before the last marathon. So, I guess tomorrow is decision day. I'll be up early, pushing myself to keep a difficult pace on a course that I've never done: across the Dumbarton bridge.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, given how tired I feel, I suspect it's not gonna be pretty.
The art in spam

Occasionally, your spam filter is probably saving you from something you'd enjoy. I dare you not to find this entertaining and an interesting mirror of a section of our society (in short, I find it artful):

That's great you've found a lass that's hot
You wanna hump her moistened twat.
She's so attractive, she's so nice!
But would your penile size suffice?
Not sure she will yearn for more?
You need a wang she would adore!
But how to get it long and thick?
Your only chance is MegaDik!
You'll get so wanted super-size
And see great pleasure in her eyes!
Your shaft will pound her pink so deep,
Tonight you'll hardly fall asleep!
So try today this wonder-pi'll
And change your life at your own will!

That is all.

November 7, 2007


I live in a professional world where certainties are sought and rewarded and relied upon. And I like them. I really do. I sought this profession and find myself comfortable here for a reason.

So why did I feel so weird tonight, discussing the wishy-washy-ness of what may or may not be my cultural heritage with R (see the last post for more)?

I'm not sure. I think because she asked good questions. They were questions I would have answered if my cultural heritage was work-related in the least bit. I'd know the answer before she asked. Or I'd have an answer that I thought was the best one given the constraints.

But, for some reason, when it comes to my familial cultural history, it almost seems more honest to admit that I can't know. I no longer have access to those who do, and to pretend that their loss is insignificant is wrong, so I try to preserve the mystery and appreciate it for what it is -- a wonderful, story-worthy gift.

November 5, 2007

Wayward Thoughts

I just can't focus. I've got a 10-page contract I should edit and get to a partner tonight. 10 measly pages. Simple. But I can't do it because I know I can wake early and do it tomorrow before the deadline really looms dangerous.

Also, my brain is flitting between the amazing and interesting observations about culture from Arvay on American Food and lucky_girl on Japanese gratitude.

I've spent quite a bit of time in the last 5 years thinking about identity and culture and food. In particular, I'm fascinated by the role that culture plays in forming an individual's identity, even when they try to rebel against it. Arvay's comment that all Americans bring a bit of the old country with them is very true, in my case.

Take, for example, my family.

I have several branches of ancestors who immigrated to California in the mid-1800's. I'm a big walking melting pot due to the many branches that feed my genetic tree and have always thought of myself of stereotypically American. I was told my great-grandma Erma was Swiss. I never really thought much of it. I remember my gran telling me that she was portuguese, german, swiss, french and british and her making me repeat it. When I asked the other grandparents, it was a similar story of multiple ethnicities (except for Grandma Mary, who suprised the hell out of my mom and me with the revelation that she was 1/2 Cherokee and 1/2 french when I did my 4th grade geneology project -- boy was Mom surprised...Native American, who knew?)

At some point in my 20's, after a visit or two and an exposure to the language, I fell in love with Italy. At some point later, I fell in love with E, a boy of Italian decent. Oddly, it was one of the few enthnicities that, despite a large immigration history in the US, I didn't have a grandparent claiming. After being laid off in 2000, while E was still employed, despite no apparent genetic or cultural connection, I thought the best thing I could do with my time was to go to Italy and study Italian.

My Papa, of the Swiss side of the family, when he found out I was going to Italy to study instead of getting a new job after the burst of the first tech bubble, said, and, I quote, "Why do you wanna go learn WOP?"

I was appalled and amused. How old he was. How little insult he intended and how much curiosity he had. And yet, how harsh it sounded. I explained. He, like the farmer of few words that he was, said, "huh." And that was that. I sent postcards and we never spoke of it again. But every postcard with a picture of whatever Italian village I was visiting at the time was displayed on the olive green fridge at the ranch with pride until his death. And they were stained with farmer fingerprints that showed that he took them down, he showed them off, and he put them back up. I took more comfort in those silent dirty marks than I could in anything he'd ever say to me. I know that he loved me more than he could ever say from those marks and my percentage of the fridge space.

Within a year after my return from my jaunt in Italy, my Papa had an 80th birthday. There, I met many of my Papa's cousins. The Manetti brothers, the Polettis, the Perozzis... and, shockingly, I was able to communicate with several of my visiting cousins who spoke Italian. Sure, they insisted on calling it Swiss, but I could fully comprehend everything they said as if it were perfect Romani.

I remember being shocked at the realization that it was very likely that my Swiss ancestors were likely Italian and managed to lie to get around the over-subscribed quotas of the late 1800's. I remember thinking that it was amazing that their self-indoctrination against embracing their Italian heritage was so strong that my Dad never considered that his grandmother's Swiss phone conversations sounded much like the Italian he'd heard elsewhere. Or that my Papa, my father's father, didn't know that if I learned WOP, I might be able to speak with his cousins in their native dialect.

But what I hadn't really considered until today, reading Arvay's post about food followed by lucky_girl's post about Japan was the oddly foreign comfort of my time in Italy.

Many people *love* Italy.

But for me, my last visit was like a homecoming of sorts. I just felt as if I belonged in a way that felt wonderful. Strangers would insist that they could see my Sangue Italiani despite my insistance that no, I didn't have any Italian blood. I'd try to say things in this new foreign language and magically, the syllables would roll off my tongue easier than any other language I had ever fallen in love with. Strangers would say things that were oddly constructed, and yet, I immediately saw the beauty in the way they said it and appreciated the gorgeous message of their words.

The men, in their stubborness, their romanticism, their over-exuberance, their exaggeration, and their specific blend of machoism, often reminded me of my father and brother and grandfather and uncles. The food would comfort me (this is probably true for many people). And the frustrations of the day to day life -- they just seemed to be true and unavoidable. Frustrating, yes. But things to endure.

I think, in many ways, I returned from my last and longest, most immersive, trip to Italy able to understand and forgive my father and his family for many of their oddities that I couldn't understand before I went. I was closer to them through their homeland or the homeland of their ancestors, which, for reasons of history or politics, or confusion, they didn't even know belonged to them.

That some not insignificant portion of my identity and my conception of normal is formed by a country I never visited before the age of 19, and that I have maybe spent a total of 3.5 months in, blows my mind.

And yet, if I am honest. It is true.

It is so true, that, unbeknownst to me, despite being raised in a household where no overt effort was made to connect me or teach me to avoid my Italian-based heritage I still sought out my roots in language, in food, in travel and in my husband. Granted, California has a huge influence from Italian culture and no doubt that plays a large role in my decision.

But still, I think it's fascinating and I want to think about it.

And that's why I can't work on my 10-page partnering deal right now.
I heart fall DST

I love waking up to sunshine!

My attitude is easily 40% better than last Monday, all due to the feeling that all is right with the natural world order and I don't have to get up when it's dark.

November 3, 2007

Friday Night Par-tay

One of the biggest bummers about training for a marathon is how much additional sleep you need in the heavy mileage weeks before taper. When you combine last Sunday's 20-miler with mid-week runs of 5 miles and 9 miles, a Halloween get-together one night, and a late night party to celebrate the sale of one of my clients the next, well, let's just say there was no disco ball last night.

I was home by 6 PM. I finished making what E proclaimed the best risotto ever made by 7:30 and we had eaten the entire pan by 8 PM. Immediately, I got horizontal on the couch with reading to deal with the expansion of rice in my stomach -- turns out, there is such a thing as risotto that tastes too good! I had eaten entirely too much (as had E).

By 9 PM, I finally started to recover from the stomach stretching, so I fell asleep, for the second time this week with reading material on my stomach while I lay on the couch under my reading lamp.

E prodded me to bed at 9:30 when it became apparent that my promise to watch a movie with him was quite empty.

I woke this AM at 8:30, rested for the first morning in quite some time.

This undeniable need for sleep is making me seriously reconsider my desire to run a marathon on our next big trip. It takes so much time out of life just to do the required running to train for a marathon. But when you add the required sleep, that's when things really start to have to take a hit.

Of course, it's really only a couple of weeks of the super-long mileage and additional sleep. And they are hard to remember when you cross the finish line.

Today, on my leisurely slow 5 mile run, I remembered the fun of just running to run. Much of the training for a marathon adds a level of discipline that removes some of the joy of just running to run. On the other hand, the discipline often forces me out on my feet to experience joy that I otherwise may have skipped.

In short, I'm reserving my commitment to the race I'd planned for next April 'til after my next Marathon.