Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ferrante Fever

“Elena Ferrante” is what James Wood called her. Apparently we don’t know if it’s a real name or a real person or what. I don’t much care.

Ferrante is the author of a bunch of novels, including the lauded Neapolitan series, which catalogues the lives, from childhood, of two friends from an impoverished corner of Naples starting in the 1950s and progressing through their adulthoods.

Ok. I’m into it. I listened to My Brilliant Friend over a couple of days off, cleaning and running on the treadmill in the workout room of my apartment building in between the two garage modules. I love audiobooks, since I’ve realized that I’m an incredibly slow reader because I basically read everything out loud to myself, in my head, and pretty much can’t process anything non-aural. I continually despaired at my inability to finish books, from childhood onward, until I discovered that you could have people read them to you, while you did mundane shit like wash dishes and shop for groceries and walk to work and back. Things that don’t really need your full attention, and that would otherwise be occupied with your obsessive negative thoughts, anyway! Since this realization, I’ve finished a whole bunch of books that I’d have otherwise thought too long or boring to consider. Just ASK me about the Plantagenets! Somehow, just having someone keep going with the story, no matter what random thoughts also pop in to visit, is an amazing help. Go figure.

I’m five hours into The Story of a New Name, and though I repeatedly think, whenever I have to stop Hilary Huber’s electrifying voice in my ears to go to work or have a conversation, I can’t help thinking that the book is a bit soap-opera-y, a bit tawdry, though shot through with existential insights, and above all, profoundly “female,” which is something I can hardly stop thinking about since as my brother is the owner of the audiobook account I use and he recently told me he was listening to volume 1.   Continue reading

Crappy New Year, or Tip Your Bartenders Tonight

Tonight I’ll be partaking of a longstanding holiday tradition and working through New Year’s Eve. By choice.

Since gleefully reentering the food service world after years as a narcoleptic office rat in late 2010, I’ve made it a point, in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, to mention to my employer that if anyone is needed to bar-tend, serve, or stand around looking official on New Year’s Eve, I’m their girl. Because New Year’s Eve sucks. It is the worst holiday in the modern cannon. If I can’t peaceably hang out at home and watch The Twilight Zone, I’m gonna be making some money.

Part of this comes from too many years living in New York City, where my already crowded and overpriced town becomes, for one special night, four or five times more crowded and infinitely more expensive. Hordes from Connecticut, from the Island, from the far, far reaches of rural Jersey, from the midwest, from the deep south, from Philly and DMV, even Bostoners descend. As if every other place in the world had conspired to dump its worst people on us to fill the streets with shouting and vomit. Due to supply and demand, every nightlife establishment right down to your friendly neighborhood dive bar tacks a $20+ charge just to get through the door, and a mandatory prix-fixe of food you wouldn’t normally eat, just ’cause. It’s impossible to do anything, and impossible not to. Because it’s New Year’s Eve, and our culture and crappy, crappy movies have brainwashed us into thinking that if we don’t have fun in a crowded room full of awful strangers tonight, of all nights, what hope do we have for the rest of the year?  Continue reading

Musins and Drinkins: Recipe Time!

The price of consumer off-premise liquor in California is far lower than that of my home state, New York. This is due to a number of factors, all of which are too boring and opaque to get into. It was a tremendous selling point for me, and a complete culture shock, that in California, one can purchase strong spirits in grocery stores, gas stations, or, if you prefer, your local CVS, and not just at designated licensed stores that may or may not have sales counters flanked with bullet-proof glass. Cheap booze flows in the streets, here, it seems.

Interesting fact, though, that the price of prepared beverages, IE drinks you buy at a bar, is pretty much evenseys between the giant city where I used to live and the one where I now reside. In both places, t’s an easy thing (particularly in the age of plastic currency) to waltz into a bar, blink, and spend fifty or sixty bucks.

What a revelation, then, to find that for that same fifty or sixty bones, one can dance on over to the Trader Joe’s and stock one’s entire home bar!

So I’ve been mixing at home, I guess is the point of all this. I mean, I went to bartending school. At Columbia. (Recipe after the jump, y’all)

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When new to the neighborhood

Everyone at my new restaurant job is amazed I have only been in town one week. Not that I would relocate from New York to Los Angeles, because at least half of the nice folks I’ve met have done this. Everyone is amazed that I found a job “so fast.” Within a week! How lucky! They say.

We moved into the bare three-room apartment on Saturday night. On Thursday, I went to an open interview at a restaurant and was offered the “opportunity to train” as a serving bartender. The following day, I secured a counter position at a noodle shop opening next month. In between, I’d peppered the town with resumes, gotten dressed up and smiled through open calls. I made E pull over en route to pick up freecycle furniture because I spied “help wanted” signs from the car window. I had, in short, been hustling. It’s what I do best.
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I know cheese is tasty, but do you HAVE to put it in everything, for crying out sakes?

One thing  about driving across America in the wintertime is that you have to get up early, so that you can actually see America before the sun goes down around 5:00 p.m. This, for me, means coffee. As much as I’ve embraced my chemical dependence on caffeine, I’ve never been a black coffee drinker, or even much of a coffee connessieur. It is a warming, varyingly fragrant vehicle for my consciousness-sustaining drug.  I am one of those people Malcolm Gladwell pointed out who likes “weak, milky coffee.” Basically my ideal cuppa is a lukewarm mug of moderately coffee-flavored milk product.

But it is always a milk “product.” In the best cases, the product of soybeans, almonds, or other nuts soaked in water, pulverized, and squeezed out, resulting in a whitish, nutty-flavored liquid that works in coffee, cereal, and can even make terrific life-sustaining ice “cream.” Because, like the majority of the world’s population, I lost my ability to digest the sugars in milk (lactose) when I became an adult–around age 22. Which means I can have a nibble of cheese here, a splash of cream there, and maybe a taste or three of your creme brulee, but in general, me consuming more than a small amount dairy products leads to a digestive distress that I’d rather not expound upon in detail.
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Every Damn Year

I move every year. Sometimes for price reasons, for neighborhood reasons, sometimes to flee infestations, to flee singlehood, to flee relationships. Sometimes it is roommates doing these things and my end of the lease is collateral damage. Changing position within the city feels like the natural extension of the shifting social currents that have been pushing me through to adulthood over the past decade.

I am famous for moving. One of the books I’m trying to get rid of is signed by the author with a cheerful note commenting that the two times said author met me, I’d been in the middle of moving. I’ve published essays about it. So it feels logical that, in my mother’s words, I’d be “pretty good at it by now.”

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Have a nice life

If you stay in one place long enough, people around you will leave. This means going-away parties. A going-away party might take place at the person’s apartment, where they will try to offload furniture, clothing, and toiletries not necessary enough to make the move to San Francisco or Portland or North Dakota or back home to Cincinnati. The going-away party might be in a bar, or a friend’s apartment, where everyone will spend ten minutes talking to the departer and the rest of the time with people who, like themselves, are perfectly happy not to be moving to South Dakota, TYVM.

These parties have a wake-like quality. The departer is saying goodbye to one kind of life for another, and you, her friends, are saying goodbye to her physical presence in your lives. The departer is vanquished from the circle of hanging-out possibilities, downgraded to facebook-novelty status.

Except that despite living within five miles of this person for years, you only manage to see them once every couple of months, anyway. Most non-work friendships by this point in your life involve liking their recent accomplishments on social media and texting them photos of things that remind you of the social life you shared when you were younger and left your house more.

But now I am the departer. The deserter. I had the first of several ceremonial going-away festivities at my home recently. Seventeen people RSVPd. Seven showed up. Which was ideal, and completely expected as I live in an inconvenient neighborhood. They were my closest and most long-standing friends here, the ones willing to come to an inconvenient neighborhood on a weeknight.

But one of them actually told me to “have a nice life.” Which then made me retreat to the bedroom and cry a little. I actually have said that to people at past going-away parties, but I never realized what it might be like to hear it.

Don’t say that to people. It’s weird and oddly morbid and contradicts everything we know about modern life IE you don’t ever really lose anyone, per se, you just stop inviting them to your local events. This is what I prefer to think.

Goodbye to all this.

One of the things I know from moving all the time is that in the week before a move, you stay up all night. Having spent most of the daylight hours procrastinating by reading through your old bank statements and being mesmerized by the Blue Planet DVDs you put in for background noise, nighttime is the right time for packing. You also stay up all night with that roving anxiety that is your physical self reacting to imminent change. That too.

One of the obsessive insomniac motifs keeping me company this week is how I am about to experience a dramatic loss of street cred. Explanation:

Item 1: I am moving from New York to Los Angeles shortly.

Item 2: I have lived in New York for ten years.

Item 3: I have never been to Los Angeles.
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I move all the time

As I prepare to move house IRL for the tenth time in eight years, I’ve decided to consolidate all my blogginess into one page: right here. Here are all the Entropecia2 archives as well as my Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress side projects.  Published clips are to the right. Basically all the vanity you can stomach and more in one handy location.