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Archive for January, 2012

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Zoe and I bonded with the gorilla Nne. We learned from the zoo volunteers that she liked to look at the stuff in your purse and would sit next to the glass and look interestedly into your bag.

So many of the animals were out and about, in the cool weather, the lions were roaring, the jaguars “coughing,” the mother and daughter tigers aggressively pacing, and the gibbons swinging. We had a really excellent time.

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I’ve lived a lot of places, really really a lot. Not all of them have been homes, some of them I can hardly remember. But whether I lived there for a short time or a long time, each location, neighborhood and even the layout of the house somehow shaped my life.

Like my first house, across the street from the elementary school, I learned to ride a two-wheeler in the parking lot and got blisters upon blisters on the monkey bars.

Once we moved to Florida there was telling myself ghost stories  in an attic bedroom, then with grandma, then in a house with a palm tree and sidewalk that I drove my big wheel up and down, and a triplex where a friend’s mom banished me for being a “lesbian.”

Then there was the duplex in the neighborhood with all the kids and the empty lot where I climbed trees, built a clubhouse, and stepped on a rusty nail, leading to my first tetanus shot.

In 5th and 6th grade we lived in a townhouse near a lake and some woods and Scott Tullman, who put me in a full nelson the day I learned that I wasn’t always going to succeed at everything I put my mind to.

Then I was back to grandma’s, then the one bedroom “house” in the ghetto – a real ghetto where someone was selling crack on the street. And finally into another townhouse, the house I ran away from. Actually I didn’t run away from the house, more like the booze, the turmoil and the instability.

But hey… where was a going with this trip down memory lane? I didn’t intend to end up on skidrow. So, let’s skip a few houses and… a few more.

Now I am a grown-up, in the first house I am living alone in. It’s not really a house. It is more of a “house,” a pool house to be exact. But it is the first time I lived alone. It’s small but doesn’t seem too small to me. There is only a hot plate but who wants to cook food anyway? I live on cereal, pepperoni sticks, and soda and I absolutely love it. I had dreamed and yearned of a place all to myself and I was happy there.

In a couple years I somehow end up in Fort Lauderdale, within biking distance to it’s famous Spring Break beaches. Life is nice there. We find a HUGE tv on the street that says “Works Sometimes” and haul it home. That was my life then, it worked sometimes, until it didn’t.

Then I was living in a version of Friends: Ft. Lauderdale style. I had a bunch of mates. We all worked together and lived in the same apartment complex. Sometimes we all hung out in the hot tub after work. I was stressed and Brian offered to give me a back rub. That was some back rub. (and I am really talking about a back rub.)

Virginia was where our baby was born. But that apartment was no home. And soon Brian took me “home” to L.A.. But we moved around a lot there too, priced out of the housing market, we rented one place after another. I didn’t give my heart to those places. They were like unsuitable boyfriends that you know you are just wasting time with, except I never did that.

So, that is how we ended up in South Bend in the perfect house, in the perfect neighborhood, in city that was really just too damn cold. I loved that house. I really did. And the town was uncommonly beautiful. It inspired me to write Dream Girl and Brian to build Zoe a castle, a CASTLE for god’s sake! Zoe had friends and a type of “old-fashioned” childhood, chasing fireflies, skipping rocks on the river bank, decorating her bike for the neighborhood 4th of July parade. We found and rescued a dog. I became the “Halloween Party lady.” Brian and I both started running and pounded the pavement in the Northshore Triangle. We lived a good life. We had good neighbors. We made good friends. That house was a healing place, literally and figuratively. I healed from my cancer treatment there. I also healed from some childhood wounds. We had some special magical moments there, and I am so grateful for them.

Now we have a new house on the horizon. What kind of home will it be? What adventures will we have there? How will it shape my life? How will it shape Zoe’s? What will I do that I will have only done because of that house? How will the landscape influence the path of my life? It is all very exciting. I am looking forward to making that house our home.

 

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New Normal

Well, it only took about a year for it to really sink in. I have no breasts and there is no going back. At least not for me.

It is physically possible that I could get reconstructive surgery. I have enough fat to spare to make like six extra boobs, if I wanted them. But, I finally realized, I really don’t.

When I made the choice not to get reconstruction I felt very strongly that I was making the right decision. My surgeon disagreed. He said something about it being sad to have two fewer boobs in the world. He also said things like “You’re still young and attractive.” (uh.. thanks) and “They will be pert and firm even in your eighties.” (uh… ew?) and “We can make them tasteful.” (boobs! yum!) But I was just like “No.” “No, thank you.” and “Dude, I said no.”

But, there was still that thought niggling around in my mind whispering doubts like “Maybe it would be better. Maybe I would be prettier. Maybe it would be easier.” And, every time I would remind myself that it is just not worth it, not for me anyway. Still, the doubts would come creeping back, tempting me and making me feel unsatisfied, if just slightly.

Until yesterday, when something shifted, and slid into place and fit there comfortably. I am not going to change my mind. This is it. It is what is right for me. There are always going to be lots of maybes and what ifs in life, like “Is this the right house for me?” “Is this the right educational path for my child?” or “What if I took that job offer?’ But, thank god, there are also times when the what ifs and maybes fall away and you are where you are and you like it, maybe even love it, or it just feels right, even if it is not perfect.

I am happy for even this small amount of acceptance. When so much of life is up in the air, it feels good to be able to let some things go.

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Food Porn

We celebrated Brian’s birthday at Morimoto in Philadelphia. Morimoto is the Japanese chef from Iron Chef and Iron Chef America. Morimoto was discovered while he was working at Nobu in New York. We ate there about 3 years ago and that meal was in my top five (maybe top 2) meals I have ever eaten.

I had high expectations for Morimoto. It was very highly rated online and got rave reviews. We splurged and had the 8 course Chef’s tasting menu. And it didn’t disappoint. Every dish was amazing.

It is hard to say what my favorite dish was, maybe the tuna, or the octopus. I think Brian liked the braised Kobe short rib with wasabi crust. You’ll notice that most of my pictures have a bite of food missing, because I kept forgetting to take the picture until after I started eating. 🙂 I forgot the Kobe beef entirely.

Japanese restaurants aren’t really known for their desserts but the banana peanut butter bacon ice cream was fantastic.

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nom nom nom

I saw this Food Challenge game on Facebook today and decided it was too fun not to post on my blog. Out of 100 more or less unusual foods I have eaten 80 and 5 of the 20 I haven’t eaten are actually drinks.
1. Abalone
 2. Absinthe
3. Alligator
 4. Baba Ghanoush
5. Bagel and Lox
6. Baklava
7. Barbecue Ribs
8. Bellini – This is actually a cocktail of sparkling wine and pureed peaches
9. Bird’s Nest Soup
10. Biscuits and Gravy
 11. Black Pudding
12. Black Truffle
 13. Borscht
14. Calamari
15. Carp
16. Caviar
17. Cheese Fondue
 18. Chicken and Waffles – I have eaten chicken and I have eaten waffles but not “chicken and waffles.” And there used to be a Chicken and Waffles places right down the street from our first apt. in L.A. (The one where we lived under Vincent Kartheiser.)
19. Chicken Tikka Masala
20. Chile Relleno
21. Chitlins
22. Churros
23. Clam Chowder
24. Cognac
25. Crab Cakes
26. Crickets – No, but I did eat a chocolate covered ant at Godiva.
27. Currywurst – No, but it sounds good.
28. Dandelion Wine – Another drink I haven’t had
29. Dulce De Leche
30. Durian – People eat durian??
31. Eel
32. Eggs Benedict
33. Fish Tacos
34. Foie Gras
35. Fresh Spring Rolls
36. Fried Catfish
37. Fried Green Tomatoes
38. Fried Plantain
39. Frito Pie
40. Frogs’ Legs
41. Fugu – This is that possibly lethally poisonous pufferfish that they eat in Japan, and probably the only thing on this list that I wouldn’t eat if given the chance.
42. Funnel Cake
43. Gazpacho
44. Goat
45. Goat’s Milk
46. Goulash
47. Gumbo – This is my favorite meal.
48. Haggis – I do really want to try haggis.
49. Head Cheese
50. Heirloom Tomatoes
51. Honeycomb

52. Hostess Fruit Pie
53. Huevos Rancheros
54. Jerk Chicken
55. Kangaroo – If jerky counts I ate some kangaroo jerky that I bought from Jungle Jim‘s in Cincinnati. Best grocery store EVAH!
56. Key Lime Pie – This is my favorite dessert, especially how my grandma makes it.
57. Kobe Beef
58. Lassi – This is a yogurt based drink from India. That I am surprised I haven’t had.
59. Lobster
60. Mimosa
61. MoonPie

62. Morel Mushrooms
63. Nettle Tea
64. Octopus – nom nom nom
65. Oxtail Soup – Brian makes a mean oxtail soup
66. Paella
67. Paneer
68. Pastrami on Rye
69. Pavlova – I’d never heard of this. Apparently it is a meringue based dessert named after the famous dancer.
70. Phaal – One of the spiciest of Indian curries. I need to eat this.
71. Philly Cheese Steak – Nope.
72. Pho
73. Pineapple and Cottage Cheese
74. Pistachio Ice Cream
75. Po’ Boy
76. Pocky
77. Polenta
78. Prickly Pear – Brian once made up prickly pear jam from pricky pears he harvested from a mountain hike in SoCal.
79. Rabbit Stew – Brian made this recently.
80. Raw Oysters – Of course, I grew up in South Florida.
81. Root Beer Float
82. S’mores
83. Sauerkraut
84. Sea Urchin
85. Shark
86. Snail
87. Snake
88. Soft Shell Crab
89. Som Tam – Never heard of it but now I really really want it. It is listed at 46 on World’s 50 most delicious foods by CNN Go
90. Spaetzle
91. Spam – spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam
92. Squirrel – Nope
93. Steak Tartare
94. Sweet Potato Fries
95. Sweetbreads
96. Tom Yum – This is my most favorite soup.
97. Umeboshi
98. Venison
99. Wasabi Peas
100. Zucchini Flowers

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