January = Hyacinths in Bloom
With the exception of my birthday, there are few things I enjoy about January. January equals snow, cold, frozen, horrible, dark, wet, doom, gloom. Well, except in Austin and other warmer, smarter climates where it equals none of those things. But there is one thing that January in New England has that no other month in New England has and that is Hyacinths. Their fragrance fills up a whole room and it’s like nature’s way of saying “Hang on, fear not…spring is coming. I promise you.”
And the hyacinths are totally lying because if you live in New England you know that winter lasts through April, spring comes for about a week and a half and then it’s suddenly summer. But it’s a lie I am willing to accept because right now, when my fingers and toes really want blood to flow back into them, the scent of Hyacinth almost makes that happen.
Cannot. Get. Enough. Of. These.
I’ve got to have scurvy. I just know it.
After college, I accepted a post as a baker in a small natural foods cafe & bakery while I was (not) finishing my thesis film. I had little experience, but a fierce love of sweets and an annoying habit of turning every “means to an end” job into yet another passion/skill-set. I also had an exceptional mentor, Michael: a talented baker with great taste in music, a serious sense of humor, a dirty rotten mind and a fondness for sticking grapes up his nose. A scratch bakery, I learned how to make everything from perfect scones to bread to cakes to pastry dough. I learned the science of baking and how to make art out of the science. I also learned that sexual jokes are not only acceptable in the workplace, they are typically much funnier than your average, non-sexual jokes. And I learned that some people do not think cover songs are legitimate forms of music even though it is a well-established fact that The Waterboys version of “Sweet Thing” is far better than Van Morrison’s original.
Baking is like meditation in motion. The methodical nature of each step, from measuring to mixing to scooping to baking to cooling, is a process that is much like a dance. There is a rhythm to it; precision and yet flow & freedom. I have practiced more yoga in the physical process of making Cardamom Coffee Cake than I ever have on an actual yoga mat. It is a discipline of absolute presence of mind and on par with playing music.
I am a nightowl at heart, so the 4am alarm clock was never going to be long for my world. But to this day, it was probably my favorite job ever. I met some of my dearest friends on the planet because of that place, required constant stitches from side-splitting laughter, and learned a craft that not only makes me popular at parties, but that gives me more joy than any slice of Linzer Torte ever could.
I never liked my water fizzy. I’m one of those annoying healthy types who likes it plentiful, still and room temperature. But something happened in my 34th year of life that made the whole concept and experience of Pellegrino a five-senses kind of satisfaction, not the least of which is my eyeballs which could gaze at the Pellegrino color palette, the delicate simplicity of its label and the sophisticated, slender bottle for days.
Mama needs a new hobby.
A Series of Well-Executed Errands
There is nothing quite like a laundry list of to do’s that is not only complete, but was accomplished with great ease, enthusiasm & acumen. Without driving past the parking lot into which you meant to turn. Returning home with everything you needed to gather gathered, having deposited and disposed of everything which needed depositing and disposing. Nary a red light or long line. Not a moment of reconsideration: “Screw it. I will just do that tomorrow.”
I realize this fully exposes my inner Martha Stewart/Monica Geller gene for the true nerd that I am. But honestly, it is small victories like this that are like winning the Superbowl for me.
I can’t really decide if my current pre-occupation with the Raconteurs is really just a pre-occupation with Jack White or not. Whether I am obsessed with Broken Boy Soldiers or simply their recent appearance on Austin City Limits (crappily pictured below). It’s a tug of war between How Obsessed I Am With the Song “Together” and Being Mildly in Love With Jack White. Which begs the question: am I in love with Jack White for all that he is–the “whole person”, if you will– in spite of the current Goth-Goes-Country look when co-frontman Brendan Benson is far more “my type”…or do I only love Jack for his prolific talent and sex appeal when be-strapped with a guitar?
Whatever the source of my fixation, this is one of the best records of the past year and I can affirm from direct experience that to see them live is to taste Heaven Above.
Ladies, you wanted to know my skin care products: here you are. While this singular product is not responsible for my looking 14, it will help keep me looking 14 for at least another year.
Over the Christmas holiday, while packing & moving all my possessions into storage, I placed Amélie into the DVD player and began the cyclical viewing of the same movie 500 times in a row. This is not a wise choice as a movie to pack to. It is so visually stunning & imaginative that it’s easy to find oneself in the midst of yet another 2-hour and 2-minute break. It is a magnificent feast of color, delight, photo booths, music, wonder, adventure and sweet, tender smitten-ness. And it should not be interrupted with packing tape & bubble wrap.
Alternate titles: NYC, New York City, Fort Greene, Dekalb, Like an Intravenous Drip of Inspiration, Getting Out of Dodge.
Moleskine & Uniball VisionElite Finepoint, a perfect pair
About a year ago I upgraded from the smaller Moleskine sketchbook–which operated at once as wallet, junk drawer, sketchbook, library of possible band names and filofax–and graduated to the larger size sketchbook which I never used. When my third small notebook was eaten by an x-ray machine at the Toronto airport this summer, I finally gave this gal a college try and you know what? I like her. I like her a lot. The larger one gets the same sort of haphazard abuse as my small ones did, mostly because I can cram bigger things into its back pocket, not to mention an unfortunate incident with some Thai food. But there’s a lot more drawing and writing going on than merely “CD’s I Must Own” lists and confirmation numbers from paying my cell phone bill online. In fact, 10 Things is compiled in this very book.
Additionally, this is the only pen I will use. I prefer blue to black.