Dear Diary,

Dear Diary,

Today I locked myself out of my parents’ house. I tried all of the windows and ran my hand over the ledge above the front door to no avail.

I bet you are wondering how I got locked out. Well, I’ll tell you but it is TOP SECRET. (Only Sarah knows. And you, of course.)

This Thursday I have dinner reservations in the city and I am SO PUMPED! Except we booked three months in advance and OMG I don’t have a date. Because I’m (mildly) deranged, I started pouring through Facebook friends that went to Pennsbury HS and then looking at friend’s of friends. It got a bit messy. Finally, I texted my sister to ask her if there was anyone I had a crush on in High School because I couldn’t think of anyone. Really? No cursive heart bubbles on my brown paper bag wrapped books?

<Side note: Do kids still do that? A lot of stores don’t even use paper bags anymore…>

Anyway, I went to the storage above the garage in my leggings, glasses, loose fitting sheer top (no bra) to find my yearbook for clues. [editors note: my sister thinks that this is what I wear every day…she might be right.]

When my parents moved, basically we each got a container. Maybe two. Our lives, boiled down to two containers. I guess that is fair – though no one can find a baby picture of me if you asked them to.

Digging around, I found a yearbook with no signatures. Did that stop? Did I really have no friends my senior year? Possibly – I had an older boyfriend… I don’t know.

But here is the crazy thing. I came down carrying an armful of diaries and a huge tin of (what looks like) every note from the 90s that I ever passed back and forth that ended in my hands, nearly tripping over a bin of gardening tools obstructing the stairs.

Sweaty but amused by my find, I tried to open the door I came from. Locked. It turns out all of the doors were locked. And the windows. (Note: I just got in yesterday so every window is locked because I haven’t been using the windows to lean my body out to smoke weed or anything.)

Fuuuuuck. I start walking to my dad’s university which is pretty close. Then I realize there is a bike!!! I ride like a madwoman. Here’s the thing, though: the bike seat was incredibly low. The helmet incredibly old. The hill! Oh my god, the hill!!! I had to walk the bike up. And then the terror of going down…horrifying.

Pedal. Pedal. Pedal. I’m at campus now and I kind of remember… I see the science building but when I get close, it doesn’t look familiar. Oh yeah, I think. Dooling Hall. Undergraduate Dean’s Office is is Dooling. I pedal. The bike seat shifts awkwardly because after I raised it, I didn’t tighten it enough.

Surprise, DAD!

I had him snap a photo:

FullSizeRender

My dad didn’t actually have a key? So I told him to wait ten minutes and meet me back home. I figured, might as well flip through these diaries that caused all this trouble.

So, if you made it this far in the post, here is a little treat:

  1. Apparently I’ve been eating Chinese food and cleaning up in costumes since the 90s:FullSizeRender_2

Also, I ❤ Kyle! and Who the fuck took that picture?! Oy vey! << also, who is Kyle? >>

2: FROM THE INTERNET!!! FullSizeRender_1

TTYL!!

Love,

Andrea

 

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Y Tu Mamá También

And, “We’re all going to die!!!”

When Y Tu Mamá También made its theatrical release in the United States, I was in high school and belatedly getting my driver’s permit several months after my 16th birthday. I was never huge into films but I’d go to the local video store and rent movies on occasion. Regardless, the most sex in a movie I’d experienced was the the PG stuff in James Bond films.

My mother heard an interview about the movie (probably on NPR) and suggested that we all go see it. I didn’t bother to look it up and maybe my dad didn’t either? That part I’m not sure because why my sister, who is two years older, and I got in the car that night to go see a movie with my parents has been lost in the folds of time. We had to drive to a theater in New Jersey that was probably 45 minutes away since the movie had a limited US release (I’m going to guess that is because of a combination of subtitles and mature sexual content.)

But what I do remember, is this:

The movie had a lot of sex in it. Graphic sex. And for some reason, the scene of Julio and Tenoch masturbating on separate diving boards at a vacant country club is one of the images that is burned into my memory.

y-tu-mama-tambien-pool-scene-o

Also there were drugs. And a lot of pot smoking.

I also remember sitting next to my dad with palpable uncomfortable tension while we watched this coming of age journey about the meaning of life, sex, friendship with a little bit of Mexican politics. I’m not kidding, I don’t even know if I’d be any less uncomfortable now that I’m 31 than when I was a teenager. You could cut the rigidity with a knife, although if you asked my mother, she probably didn’t feel that way at all.

After the movie let out, neither my dad, my sister nor I said anything. We just kind of walked in awkward silence out to the parking lot. My mom, on the other hand, had a lot to say.

If you recall, I had my learner’s permit so I was still in the “practice” phase of driving that is required for 6 months in the state of Pennsylvania. This was new for those of us born in 1985, but honestly, I hate driving so I don’t think I cared as much as many others would in a similar transition era.

My parents thought that it would be GREAT for me to practice on the drive home because it was nighttime, the way back was pretty straightforward but also highway driving so I’d have to practice merging into traffic. (I still can’t merge very well and there is nothing I hate more than driving about 45 miles per hour.)

Anyway, we get in the car and my mom wants to talk about the movie. Just kill me. It is kind of her thing to have conversations that she knows we probably don’t want to have when we are stuck in the car. I’m not usually the driver though.

This is a guess, but I was driving and my dad was probably in the front passenger seat. My mom and sister in the back. And my mom was so excited and loved the movie so much that all she wanted to do was talk about it.

Meanwhile, there was construction and my right lane is ending. But I was white knuckled wondering who was more uncomfortable: me, my dad or my sister. I guess I’ll never know but I was having trouble getting over because traffic was moving really fast and the orange cones signifying the closed lane were slowly approaching when out of the back seat my older sister started screaming “OH MY GOD, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!” More than once.

I don’t know about how near to death we were, but I did get over and we are all still around to know that 15 years later, I’m still just as bad as I was on that night. On the plus side, it shut my mom up so I could pay attention to driving. Whew.

I recently watched it and (probably because a lot happened if 15 years) much of it was new to me. I remembered the general feeling of discomfort and now I know why. It isn’t just sex, it is Louisa teaching them how to have sex. I’m talking about a finger well placed in the butt, how to eat pussy, their cum faces and all the rest of things. I almost feel like all boys should watch the movie just to give him a a preview because porn does not always represent sex realistically and maybe they should all learn how to last a little longer and not jackhammer a girl without having any notion of female pleasure.

I fucking love that movie. It was so good. Insightful. Tender. Louisa has the most insane body too. Wow, girl. But mostly, I feel like there is probably so much more than I could ever grasp on one or two viewings about what the movie is actually saying. What the omniscent narrator adds to the road trip. Some of the haunting glimpses of the future.

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be pondering the meaning of Louisa’s last words to Tenoch and Julio.

“Life is like foam, so give yourself away like the sea.”

 

 

Wine (Whine?) About It

Did Facebook Matt trademark that yet? I hope not. Congratulations on the win!

I finally figured out why I can never find great wine when I’m back home. Imagine going to the DMV to buy wine. That is what it is like in Pennsylvania, because the state runs the alcohol distribution. So, just like if you got in the wrong line at the DMV, if you needed a 6-pack and went to the case store, you are shit out of luck and need to go somewhere else. Womp womp. Also, no one that works there actually gives a fuck, because they are low-pay government workers. (But hey! They get like EVERY holiday and Sunday off… soo….) Except for the guys that work at the Yardley beer distributor, they are always really nice when I used to run in for a case of Yuengling.

Truthfully, I always knew about the separation of wine/liquor, 6-pack beer and case/keg beer, but for some reason I never put together the ridiculously commercialized crappy selection of wine until this year. Thanks, mom, for turning on the light.

I left PA when I was 19 and prior to that, I only accompanied some friends to the super hood corner store in Trenton, NJ ONCE and I bought a case of Corona and nearly vomited because it was a) dark out b) probably dangerous c) I was maybe 16 or 17 (and if you asked me then, of course I looked 21, but if you ask me now, ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY you do not look 21.) That’s why the boys buy the beer. We are no good at it. Anyway, it was a success and we drove back over the bridge and presumably got drunk and made bad decisions.

When I was older, one time I DID vomit in the store because it was 4th of July and everything in PA was closed so I hopped in the back seat of a hot car and a few of us drove from Philly to get supplies. I was with this boy I was seeing and another couple and (yay me) got sick from the disgusting smell of alcohol permeating the entire massive store thanks to my excessive consumption the night before, the raging heat and stop and go traffic in the car. I mostly made it to their back room bathroom. Gross.

I digress, per usual. Anyway as my mom and I were selecting wine for New Year’s Eve, I had my usual grumbling about the poor selection and how in New Orleans you can spend $15 and get something super delicious and at the store I go to they help you pick AND they keep track of things you bought in the past (blah blah blah… you get the idea. I’m sure my mom really enjoyed my tirade). Then, when we were leaving, I had a masterful idea that I would open up a boutique wine store there! Huzzah!! Problem solved. With the slight issue that I don’t know enough about wine so I’d need to find a sommelier to marry. (Insert funny/sort of mean-spirited joke about my sisters awful ex boyfriend and imagine me making the sound of slurping wine around my mouth.)

But then in comes mom with the dream crushing yet enlightening tidbit about how, previous issues notwithstanding, I can’t open a wine store anyway because it is run by the state, and they make a shit ton of money off of it, and be happy they’ve caved and allowed a few people to sell on Sunday. God’s day. (Unless you are Jewish.) AMEN.

Egg-cellent

On a recent trip home, my slightly battered self-esteem was given a nice little boost as I spent time with my parents friends. I love coming home and spent a season here not too long ago working in New York, and many of them remember my cooking skills as being superb. It was quite the topic of conversation at both New Year’s Eve and another dinner at this amazing Greek restaurant a few days later. (Thanks, guys!)

The main point of reference was a pretty substantial dinner party for about 8 people during the end of my NYC project in which I made one recipe from a blog online and another of my own creation. I learned a lot by this dinner party (one time I made a huge plate of short ribs to be served family-style to a bunch of very, very old men and realized later that a) Omg there was so much prune/prune juice in it and they might poop themselves in the middle of the night and b) these guys can’t lift the serving platter to pass it around…awkward) so I was pretty set up for success. I planned the menu, made a grocery list and cleared the kitchen to execute the meal from prep to plating on the large counter in the kitchen and serving our guests seated in the dining room.

The first course was roasted acorn squash with sauteed kale, poached egg topped with small cubes of pecorino romano. Sounded great when I was researching with the tiny caveat that while I love poached eggs, I’d never made them for myself or two people, let alone a party of eight. Hmmm.

So, I went to my favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen, for help. The blog advocated for a splash of vinegar and a whirlpool method. Simple enough? Sure, why not. I gave it a whirl (tee hee) and both my mom and I had poached eggs for breakfast. Success!! Except how do I get 8 of them at the same time while managing the main course and plating the squash and kale while still hot? HMmmm. Fortunately, Smitten Kitchen came to the rescue again with something snarky like “If you happen to be crazy enough to be reading a blog post about how to poach an egg and intend to make several for a party…” (yes, do go on…) And explained that you could cook them just under and place them on a paper towel to and then reheat them briefly just before serving. Woohoo! I’m game.

The entree was my own creation, a swordfish stew, which involved seared cubes of swordfish, a spicy tomato sauce and then spicy toasted chickpeas as a topping served over quinoa. Of course one of the diners was vegetarian so before I added the fish, I separated some of the sauce to do a potato rendition (because I’m cool like that).

Everything seemed pretty good to go. But then one of the neighbors asked if it was okay if their son comes. Cue the scene in Clueless when Cher gives a speech in Mr. Hall’s class about the Hatians (read: Hate-ians) and an RSVP sit down dinner… yadda yadda yaddda… “but it’s like ‘the more the merrier!'” and I figured out a slight adjustment for portions and onward and upward!

But seriously, everyone stay the fuck out of my kitchen because I’m in focus mode and there can be absolutely zero questions asked in my direction. Just assume that yes, if my wine is looking empty, I would LOVE some more. (You’re the best, mom!)

As the beginning of the post might suggest, this all went magically. Woohoo! Okay, one egg was a little over but that one went to me because in reality, I’d eaten my share of eggs that day practicing anyway.

Also, apparently I made quite the impression on the across the street neighbor’s son because he apparently mentioned that he was quite taken by me. Too bad I’m ten year’s his senior and live in another state. It would be nice to have a boy crush on me and like it when I cook dinner.

The other couple offered to bring a traditional dessert from (ahh I am the worst I can’t remember what country they are from but I’m going to guess India) and that was great because it took me off the hook for the finale. But amid requests for a repeat, we will have to host again soon.

No pressure for next time or anything…

Dear 2015…

Dear 2015,

I wish I could say that it’s been great and I will miss you, but that would be total and complete bullshit. The fact that 2014 ended with me toasting bubbly with my coworkers after another long holiday season in the service industry ($$$) and then welcoming 2015 by getting super sloshed at work while we cleaned up leading to a near miss of my flight home on Jan 1 suggests how pathetic you would end up. But hindsight is 20/20, right?

To be fair, the ratio of good to bad in the year that marked the 30th anniversary of my birth wasn’t so so bad, and since I don’t have a television, I’ve been spared a lot of the past 6 month’s political discourse that social media tells me consists heavily of people saying stupid things that are unproductive and sometimes outright offensive. This resulted in some pretty funny memes though, so thank you?

I had a few new romances and handful of awful dates to laugh about and a lovely and passionate repeat of my favorite flame. (Watch out for those, they might burn you alive.)  I partied in some excellent outfits and danced the night away with some magical friends. I fell down pretty hard a few times (literally and metaphorically) but magically a I still get out of bed most days because everyone knows how much I love breakfast.

Surely it was disappointing, but the getting of and then quitting of a proper job was somewhat rewarding and suggested that one day I might find my niche in the adult world. I’ll let you know when I figure out where that is and what it looks like in case you want to join me. (On Pluto?)

You marked then 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and thus my ten-year anniversary in the city of New Orleans. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

I have a huge pile of books on my bedside table because I’m taking a course in the art of the novel (yaaay) so my sleepless nights will have no shortage of entertainment. <- in addition to Netflix, my usual array of books, an occasional late-night text session, and of course, my blog.

I’m not one for “resolutions” but I do have some goals for the coming year. First and foremost I plan to get my sister to pull through like the awesome chick that she is and help me make my AMAZING blog a better, funnier place to procrastinate at work. (For all 50 people that read it, you’re welcome.)

I suspect dating is the same in 2016 so I might opt out completely but there are a handful of restaurants popping up around town so once I’m done with a month of no dairy and no booze I’ll resume the regular consumption of food and drink. Om nom nom.

Also, because we managed to find the most horrific human to move into our apartment who managed to upset the entire home in a mere 2 weeks (Mind = Blown) I’m sure that the situation will eventually become funny and end up here because if you don’t laugh about it all that there is left to do is cry. And I don’t want to give myself any unnecessary wrinkles. I do, however, want to throw a frozen burrito at his head. I’ll explain that later.

So, 2015, I guess all that’s left is Happy New Year, bitch.

Yours faithfully,

Andrea’s Bananas

 

 

Richard, You Crazy Bastard.

It was my Dad’s birthday recently and I couldn’t help but think of him extra fondly this evening when I was stirring a fresh jar of peanut butter. I’m ridiculously picky about my peanut butter, generally saying “No, thank you” to anything other than my chosen brand and texture. The brand that, incidentally, they do not sell in the New Orleans area. Or nowhere I’ve looked anyway. And I’ve looked. Extensively. It is called Crazy Richard’s. You should go find some, or maybe if you are lucky I will share some of my own stash.

The thing is that it is natural, and the oil separates at the top so you have to spend a solid few minutes stirring the viscous contents of the jar and it is kind of messy and sort of annoying. (And by sort of I mean HUGELY INCONVENIENT.) When I’m home my dad would always make sure to stir the new jar of peanut butter before I got my hands on it. Ahhh, Dad…such a pal. Got me off the Skippy ways of my sugar -coated youth and onto the good stuff.

The thing is, I first started eating this peanut butter with my parents so I don’t really know how they came across this particular variety. It was a hard transition from the sweet (to my palate now, wayyyy too sweet) peanut butter of my childhood that was packed with extra sugar and who knows what other crap to this natural, almost hard to eat, spread. But one day, I found myself working from the lightest of smears on my thin toast to really full on enjoying the natural peanut butter. Fun fact, I only eat the crunchy kind. And these days, I’ll just put a spoon in there and go for it. Especially if there is a cold glass of milk nearby. Yum.

Anyway, a lot of the “natural” stuff at the market now includes fun phrases like “no stir” and that is totally bullshit because in order to make the compounds that naturally separate stay together you have to add chemicals so I am not sure what is natural about that.

One time I attempted to fly back to New Orleans with some extra peanut butter and my mom had a GREAT idea for helping me fit a few of the sealed plastic jars into my carry on bag. (Carry on because they charge you so much money to check a bag. Like really, what the fuck. And then you have to wait for it at baggage claim, the pits.) I was about to give up due to space constraints and I was under a little bit of stress as it was because I always get a little wet eyed when leaving home even though I love it down here. I was not my most fun self. That time, amid my panic and belated packing, Mom came to the rescue. She found a GREAT spot for the extra goodies – in my running sneakers! It took a little shoving and some kind words of encouragement, but in a very short amount of time I had two, maybe three containers of my coveted Crazy Richard’s in my crowded bag and I was en route to the airport. Bon Voyage, East Coast, I’m coming home.

Well, as it turns out, the security guy was not having it. Nothing says “contraband” like being shoved inside a sneaker. I attempted to explain that I wasn’t hiding it but that I was just trying to fit the peanut butter in my already full-to-the-max bag. I also noted that it was sealed and although there was a bit of liquid at the top, I didn’t really think chunky peanut butter is, in fact, a liquid. That guy, what a tool. I lost the battle and was directed to check my bag if I so chose. I did not (have I ever?) have time for such an adventure and had to throw my beloved into the trash bin next to me. Ugh, I am still annoyed when I think of that guy.

Next time, my parents were super duper sweet and sent me a care package FULL of peanut butter so I’m pretty well stocked. Okay, not really, I’m down to three. THREE!!!! It is almost time to up my peanut butter game. Crazy Richard, I’m coming for you.

Quesadilla: The Superlative Grilled Cheese

Tortilla + Cheese + Goodies + Skillet = Delicious.

If you disagree, you are probably a bread person. See all previous posts re: the war on carbs if you are surprised that I do not, in fact, think the best part of a grilled cheese sandwich is the bread.

What I do love, however, is the diversity. OH THE DIVERSITY that you have when making a quesadilla.

The combination described below is a personal favorite because a) it uses kale (kale!) b) it uses goat cheese instead of loads and loads of heavier and higher calorie cheese and c) it can be modified based on whatever is in my refrigerator or yours and impress the shit out of everyone who gets to eat some. (You’re welcome.)

I almost always prefer my version to any that I could ever order out, so I was happy to have the opportunity to enjoy this version for an afternoon lunch with my mama.

I started with a hot nonstick skillet with an extra spritz of olive oil nonstick spray. **Important for getting the right level of toasted without it being greasy.

The large tortilla gets folded in half so basically I made two at once, with the inner parts of each tortilla making what looks like a tepee while I added the fillings on top of the half being heated.

First I grated a small amount of cheddar cheese (the unifier) and then threw on some raw kale, fresh ground salt and pepper. I had leftover spicy black beans (whole tomato, garlic, red onion, black beans and chili flakes cooked together) and threw them on and topped it all with a little fresh goat cheese. I then added a little Cholula hot sauce and a final grate of cheddar to glue it all together and … Ta Da… the bottom side is perfectly toasted and it was ready to be sandwiched and flipped.

This was all finished with a little bit of sour cream and a glass of wine. If you are nice, maybe next time you can come.