Odds ‘n Ends

It’s been a busy week. Usually when I’ve been this occupied, things keep popping up that I think, I definitely want to write about that. And then I’ll make a note about it and I’ll be able to dedicate an entire entry to it. But for whatever reason, that didn’t happen this time. I kept waiting for something really inspired to hit me but all I have are these little tidbits about which I can write a paragraph or two and then that’s it. So what ensues is the best I could come up with from the week of September 8, 2008.

Totally me.

I discovered in the early part of the week that one of my favorite websites, someecards, allows you to create a username and password so you can log in and create your own cards. I’m in heaven! I sent my mom and aunt one and you can submit them for other people to see and possibly send out. (By the way, I’d like to give a shoutout to my friend Amy for introducing me to this website. My life has never been the same.) If you like to create with words and pictures, as I do, then it’s a perfect outlet. If you’re one of my friends or relatives reading this, don’t be surprised if I send you one. I go on kicks where I send multiple cards at once. I receive their weekly newsletter telling me when the newest cards have been added, as well. Yeah. I know.

In big sports news, Tom Brady has been badly injured in his knee and is purportedly out for the entire season. It’s big only because after last year’s amazing, fucking awesome-as-hell Superbowl at which the NY Giants’ defense took the trophy right out from the Patriots’ perfect record for the year, that the Patriots will have to try to get to the Playoffs/Superbowl without him. Brady’s a huge baby sore loser. I can relate a little bit since I hate to lose. I’m one of those introverts that doesn’t appear to be competitive on the outside, but I really seethe when I don’t win. My brother Zack and I used to play all kinds of games when we were kids. We had the most heated Mariokart marathons in the history of Super Nintendo. (Super Nintendo was the BEST! Remember Donkey Kong Country?) Neither of us liked to lose and it absolutely steamed his clam to see me kick his ass at something as boy-oriented as a video game. Mortal Kombat, no, but anything Mario-related and I was right up there with The Wizard. (If you don’t know that movie reference, you are not an 80s child and/or had a deprived childhood.)

I was the first kid to beat Super Mario Brothers 2, beating Wart in his bubbley kingdom of doom. Oh yah, that was me. And I whipped his toady ass with Princess, who had a decent floating capability, which was key to being able to jump over him and throw a radish at him. Where was I? Oh yeah, Tom Brady. Brady hates to lose and while he may be a good leader and quarterback, he just sets an example of being a huge crybaby p***y, making the New England Patriots look like giant douchebags. I like the New York teams kind of by default (and I learned more about football in my 18 month relationship with my ex than any other time) and I like the Colts. As I’ve previously mentioned, I dig me some Manning. So we’ll see how this new kid Cassel does. The Tom Brady thing is right up there with the big football news of Brett Favre being traded to the Jets. It makes for an interesting season, at least.

In other totally unrelated happenings, my mom sent me a hilarious email in which she included a link to a tee-shirt that had “MILF” on it. It came from CafePress, and it said “Yomama has the following message: ‘What’s a MILF?'”

The questionable tee.

I cracked up and told her what it stood for. (If you don’t know, just Google it. Where have you been the last ten years? The only other person who wouldn’t know is my dad.) When she found out she wrote “Uhhh thanks. Ick on the acceptable phrases scale.” My mom is 62 and wonderful and I love that despite the fact that she’s a very modern mom, she hadn’t heard of this particular acronym. I wish the hilarity stopped there but then she wrote, “Now there should be tees that say GILF or DILF, as in ‘Guy I’d’ or ‘Dude I’d..'”

I guess she thought that there should be these tee-shirts that women can give to their guys. I don’t want to know who my mom wants to give those shirts to. I wrote back that GILF or DILF would be construed as “Grandma I’d Like to…” or “Daughter I’d Like to…” I don’t want to know who would give those out if those got made. I love my mom to infinity and beyond, especially for giving me this kind of material. She thanked me for enlightening her. I’m always happy to help.

On Wednesday, I got in the elevator with two other gentlemen who apparently worked together. I think it must have been a boss or supervisor and a lower employee, because this bizarre conversation took place. This is the gist of it:

Boss: Did you check about those flights with Melissa?

Dude 2: Not yet. I’m just waiting on [some other dude] to get back to me about the figures.

Boss: Well, that’s gotta be done like…FIRST THING.

*Awkward pause.*

Dude 2: No yeah, I’m gonna get to it. It’ll get done.

Boss: Because it’s really important we get the cheapest flight.

Dude 2, (defensively and emphatically): I found the cheapest flight.

Boss: (pause) Expedia?

Dude 2: Yeah, Orbitz. One of those.

They exit the elevator. As soon as the doors closed I burst out laughing. How gauche is it to have that conversation not only in front of a stranger but in the elevator on your way up to work? It’s the worst when you have nothing else to talk about with someone you work with, especially someone who’s in a place of seniority, and s/he feels the need to talk to you about work you have to get done that day. I just know that Dude 2 was thinking, “Can you get off my nuts and wait to talk to me until we’re both actually inside the office and I’ve had some coffee?” The elevator is a strange, neutral territory of an office building with its own etiquette. When you first get to work and haven’t begun your day, it doesn’t feel right to have to talk about work before you’ve logged on to your computer and set your things down. But once you’ve put some hours behind you and lunchtime or later rolls around, it’s totally kosher to talk about work in the elevator. I felt bad for that poor bastard. I wonder if his day was ruined.

Everyone has at least one or two coworkers and/or supervisors that they don’t want to be caught dead with in the elevator. It’s 20+ seconds of an infelicitous ride that one or both either acknowledges with silence or in which one explodes with small talk about the weather. That’s the worst. At my old job, there were mini TV monitors in the elevators so you at least had the excuse of staring up at the screen for some tidbit of news or weather. Anything to avoid conversation, or worse, eye contact. I’ve definitely taken a lap around the reception area in order to avoid getting into the elevator with someone I don’t care for in the office. Feel free to leave me a comment detailing your elevator horror stories. I’d love to hear about it!

Last but not least, I have a tip for my fellow coffee lovers, especially if you buy lattes on a regular basis. Make the most of your latte by taking advantage of the spices that Starbucks and your local joints put out on the counter where you tinker with the drink. I always add Splenda and a couple bangs from the cinnamon shaker. It really makes the difference, folks. Not only is cinnamon an anti-inflammatory spice (just 1/2 a teaspoon a day keeps the doctors away! And don’t quote me on that or blame me for any medical problems that don’t go away when you inhale cinnamon) but it is absolutely divine on the taste scale and punches up one’s coffee but good. I have a real weakness for cinnamon. The subway station at Rockefeller Center (BDFV lines) has a Cinnabon upstairs so that when you’re at one end of the platform, it smells like someone is making cinnamon buns and it’s all I can do not to run upstairs and buy one. I haven’t succumbed yet, but it makes waiting for the train a far more pleasant experience than usual. It’s soothing and totally fools you into thinking that waiting for a train is a comforting experience. So that’s it – add cinnamon!

I’ve managed to kill another 90 minutes in avoiding cleaning up the pit that is my bedroom. If I can make a dent this weekend, I’ll feel like a real grownup. But all this difficult blogging might inspire a nap and/or watching something on HBO or Showtime OnDemand.

If you’re interested in learning more about Elevator Etiquette (there is a TON of information out there! It’s a real issue, apparently –) check out this video that someone kindly made to a great song called Such Great Heights by The Postal Service:

My primal, Sunday baking urge

Yep, this looks about right.

Yep, this looks about right.

For the life of me, I cannot get Beyonce’s song “Irreplaceable” out of my head. The only two phrases running through my mind all day have been, “To the left, to the left…” and “You must not know ’bout me, you must not know ’bout me…” I only recently downloaded it after hearing it at David’s wedding reception and I thought that maybe if I listened to it a few times the song would fade from my head. Instead, the lyrics keep cycling around up there with no end in sight. Listening to the song provides relief and insanity all at once.

The beginning of my day started three hours earlier than my Saturday. It totally escapes me why I woke up refreshed at 9am when I went to bed after 2, after having gone out and having a few drinks with a work friend the night before. Why is it that I can wake up and feel great with seven hours of sleep on a Sunday but if I get 7.5 on a weeknight I feel like a hungover zombie on any given day of the work week? It’s why I firmly believe that my body is not meant to be up before 8am. Waking up and getting out of bed before 7am goes against every aspect of my body, mind and soul on a molecular level. I can feel the protest coursing through my blood when I force myself to my feet to grab my bath towels and head to the shower. But whatever the reason today, I got up and decided to make the day as productive and yet relaxing as possible.

The weather changes absolutely affect my decision making process on what I intend to do for the day. In today’s case, it was sunny and cool in the morning and I was actually able to shut off my air conditioner that usually runs (even just on fan) to keep the air flowing. When it’s really hot and sunny, totally nasty humid, snowy, sleeting, gray or rainy, I usually find some way to lie prone and read, sleep, watch TV, play Sudoku, text people and any combination thereof as the day progresses. Today went down differently.

Intsead of laying around for the entire day watching TV and avoiding going through the rat’s nest of disorganization in my room, as has been my habit for the past six weekends, I sat at the computer and did my budget for the rest of the week (which consists of looking at the remainder of my money before my next paycheck and cringing). I then made a prudent financial decision not to order any coffee from Coffee Fool (if you haven’t tried this coffee yet, I highly encourage you to do so – amazing stuff) and just finish out the Folger’s French Roast in the freezer. With the $12 I was saving on my coffee order, I applied it to my order of groceries from Fresh Direct, a grocery/catering service native to New York and one of the biggest perks about living here.

Delivery service is what helps make NYC so unique and wonderful, and when Fresh Direct made its way into the forefront of my existence, I embraced it wholeheartedly and gratefully. Sit on my ass and choose groceries and have them delivered when I want anytime in the coming week? Sold!

I am incredibly lazy about going to the grocery store. My friends and family can attest to my personal bests of going weeks upon weeks without buying anything more than a can of soup and a jug of milk at one time.  I think my personal best thus far has been six weeks of buying absolutely nothing, and that was two years ago. I almost caught up to that record until today. So the fact that I ordered some ready-to-eat meals and produce from Fresh Direct and I went to the store up the street from me to get some staples for the day is an incredible feat for me. Put a gold medal around my neck, thank you!

One of my girlfriends who recently moved to Astoria has already explored the area enough around her to know that there’s a Costco nearby. I wouldn’t have known that if I’d lived here twenty years. I aspire to be more like her when I’m not indulging in sheer laziness on the weekends.

So having already been uber successful at waking up early, making a sound financial decision AND ordering groceries, all before having any coffee, how or why the idea of making cookies came into my head I know not. I just know that I hadn’t done anything baking-oriented in ages (mostly due to living with a batshit crazy roommate, as described in my first post) and I was craving the comfy, cozy routine of doing something homey. And you know what, it hoenstly doesn’t get any better than baking cookies. I wasn’t even craving anything dessert-ish per se, I just had an overwhelming urge to bake. Not wanting to ignore the insistent call in my head, I began researching recipes online by Googling the phrase “best chocolate chip cookies” followed by “oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.”

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are my ultimate favorite. The texture and flavor of the oats mixed with the brown sugar, butter and chocolate chips….and imagining them hot and fresh out of the oven….I kept the saliva in check and continued my research. I finally landed upon a recipe from a food blog called Smitten Kitchen. Haha, wow this whole day I thought it was Smitten Kitten and it’s actually Smitten Kitchen. I thought that was so cute, too – Smitten Kitten. Good grief. Anyway, the recipe is for Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies. It was Zoe Perfect! I loved everything about it except the orange zest, which I omitted from even being an option for my cookies. Citrus fruit + chocolate and/or cookie dough = Pointless in the Tao of Zoe. That includes cranberries or cran-raisins. (I mean seriously, what is up with that shit?)

After taking notes on all the ingredients and figuring out if I could afford to make these things, because after all, I own zero sugar, flour or any other staples except vanilla and baking soda, I threw on my flip flops and an acceptable pair of loungey pants and tee-shirt in which to walk to the store (I even put on deodorant!). It wasn’t even 11 in the morning and I was going grocery shopping. I felt like a real grown-up. My fellow Astorian girlfriend would have been proud.

I stuck to my list, a very hard thing to do for most people, and came home with all the goodies. But first I had to relax with my leftover pizza for breakfast and do some dishes before I could even think about making cookies. I took a few photos so you could see the results because if you’re any kind of normal person, you would think this looks amazing. Unless you’re my friend David, who is anti-nuts in baked goods. I’m hoping he’ll one day change his mind but since neither of us haven’t changed ours about loathing seafood (another post for another time), I’m not holding my breath.

Behold the dough in its glorious, shiny beauty!

Phenomenal, gooey,chocolatey, nutty, oatey, magical cookie dough

If you think that looks good, and trust me, it was….here’s the final product:

Oooh, ahh...

Oooh, ahh...

I got the macro function of my camera to work!

I got the macro function of my camera to work!

What really gives it a pinch of autumn lusciousness are the spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves added to the flour mixture. Picture an Italian chef kissing their fingertips with a mwah sound and saying, “Magnifico!”

Needless to say, I munched on a couple right out of the oven and then later on in the evening I ate a few watching stand-up comedy and movies. I filled a couple of plastic tupperware containers with the cookies so I am hoping that despite working in a New York City office, that I will be able to get people to consume one or two, so that I don’t have to come home every night of the week and eat these all on my own. Because 70% of the purpose and thrill of cooking and baking is having others moan and groan over the culinary success of the recipe.

I need praise.

After the exhausting process of measuring, stirring, forming and eating the cookies, it was 2:30pm and time to celebrate my 5.5 hours of productivity – with a nap. After two blissful hours of curling up in the blissful quiet of my room, I woke up at 4:30 to watch some more random movies on HBO, stand-up comedy on Comedy Central and much later on, the Colts v. Bears game. (I love those Manning guys.) My room was once again ignored and once again, I will hope that the motivation to get that done will strike me instead of cookie baking or something else really frivolous next weekend. But I did make some progress on a Moderately Difficult Sudoku puzzle and really enjoyed the fact that my subconscious is really feeling at home here in the new place; or those cookies never would have been made, and that would have been a real shame on this gorgeous pre-autumn Sunday.

(To the left, to the left…)