Musings of a Domestic Feminist

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Places I Want to Go (In a vague, but not particularly accurate order)

I've been itching to go somewhere new lately. I think it has something to do with the fact that last year at this time I was living in a new country, exploring new places every day, and altogether loving it. This, of course, was before I realized at a) the rain in Florence wasn't destined to stop until the week before I went home and b) Florentines are not known for their Grace, Warmth, and Hospitable Nature when it comes to dealing with American students. But anyway, I've caught the travel bug again. And as I've been keeping a mental list of places I need to go someday in my head for years, I figured I'd get in down on paper. Or blog. Or typepad? Whatever.

1) Colombia
Apparently all of the drug cartels have left Colombia and it's super safe now. And because they had so much drug money pouring in during the 80s and 90s, the place is absolutely beautiful. Cartagena is colorful and beachy, and Medellin spends 40% of its annual budget on education, and a great portion of the rest on the arts. So basically: natural beauty + actual culture? Take me there please!

2) Istanbul
I've been fascinated by Istanbul for a while now. It seems like it has this incredible mix of ancient history and a new, bustling atmosphere. I adore Byzantine architecture; mosiacs, domes, minarets = Alex's physical layout of heaven. And to that you can add ancient, imperial history (the kind I geek out over), a great modern art scene, and delicious food. And did I mention the Byzantine architecture? Because I love that shit.

3) Portland and Seattle
I figured that I should probably make an effort to see some of the parts of my own country where I have never been. The Pacific northwest has seemed pretty awesome ever since I read this book called The Mozart Season about this girl from Portland who competes in a violin competition where all the contestants had to play (you guessed it!) a Mozart Concerto.* Who cares if it rains 340 days out of the year? (I completely pulled that statistic out of my ass, but you get the picture.) They have music! And great restaurants! And farmers markets! And roses! What's not to like?

*As a side note, I've played the Mozart Concerto in A Minor that Allegra (the main character) had to play in the novel. And while it is indeed lovely, Mozart is far too neat and clean for me. Give me some dissonance, Wolfgang. Come on. And as a second side note, this was seriously one of my favorite books growing up. If you know middle-school aged girls, get them this book. Seriously, you really want them reading Gossip Girl? Or worse: Twilight?

4) Brittany
Have you ever heard a Breton pipe band? No? Then go here: . I swear, once you get over the shrill tones of what sounds like dying geese, it's some of the coolest music out there.

5) Dublin
I'd like to go back to Dublin and see and do some of those things you should actually ought to see and do in Dublin. You know, like go to the theater, go to a pub. Not just shop, which is what I did first time around. God damn my unenlightened 15 year old self.

6) Vietnam
I just finished reading The Quiet American. It was incredible, and combined with the fact that the country is supposed to be incredibly beautiful, the people friendly, and has a cuisine that makes me happier than almost any other, seems like a perfect country for me.

Anyway, that's it for now. There are tons of other places I want to go, like India, Thailand, Tahiti, the South of Italy, and the rest of Spain (Barcelona is wonderful, but that country is big!). But my fingers hurt from typing (no carpel tunnel, no!), and I have to wash dishes.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On Finding My Place in the Universe

After years of contemplating who I am, my purpose in life, and my role in the Greater Scheme of Things, I have come to a conclusion that may (or may not, who knows) be extraordinarily astute and accurate:

I ought to be a peasant.

Well really, since I'm Italian, I ought to be a contadina. Or, since I also have almost as much Irish blood in me, a tuathánach (say that ten times fast and I will buy you a drink. Shit, say that one time fast and I will buy you a drink).

How, you ask, have I come to this conclusion? Answer: Science! Social science, at least. After all, that's what I do. Allow me to guide you through the various arcane data that has brought me to my thesis.

Posit One: I Prefer Red Wine to White.
And not just any red wines. I like Chianti, and Cote du Rhone, and other big, full wines that taste like they were made in Nonno's basement. None of that White Zinfandel for me, thank you very much. I want a wine that stains my lips such a vivid purple that people will be unable to decide if I'm a wino or if I'm hypothermic.

Posit Two: I Make a Mean Bolognese Sauce (and fresh pasta)
Granted, I used turkey and bison instead of beef and pork (I try to stay away from anything factory farmed), and I drained off the fat, something that I'm fairly certain would cause a read Italian Nonna to drop dead of shock. But hey, I chopped the million vegetables, used real pancetta and none of the turkey bacon bullshit, and simmered the sauce for the requisite 384572485748524 hours. And it was good! Especially on the pappardelle I had made and dried the night before.

Posit Three: I Have Hips.
I think it's safe to say that I should be able to give birth with relative ease. Which is perfect, because peasant women need to be able to produce an entire litter of stout, scythe-wielding sons to work the fields and solid, merry daughters to milk cows and carry water from the well.

Posit Four: I Can Walk Long Distances Without Getting Tired
Good for when our only donkey has to be sold to pay the landlord.

So, if you take this data and synthesize it into a working thesis, what do you have? Peasant!

(Disclaimer: This entire conclusion is only valid assuming that one ignores such things as my love of expensive food, clothes, and nights at the opera. Also that one overlook my poor eyesight and severe outdoor allergies, both of which would make working in the fields rather difficult. And that the countryside scares me.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Things I Don't Understand

1) Decorative Cabbages

Now, why on earth would anyone want one of those in their front yard? I have so much trouble believing that anyone can look at a flower patch and think: You know what this needs? A decorative cabbage.

And it you do, well then you just have shit landscaping taste.

2) Girls Who Say "That's Funny" with Dead Eyes Instead of Just Laughing

Seriously, these girls scare me. What's so wrong with laughing if someone makes a joke? And why do they feel the need to alert the joke-maker that yes, they recognize the statement as a joke, and that it was indeed funny? Once again, wouldn't laughing serve that purpose?

3) Fishing

Yeah, I understand that this may be attributable to gender differences. But going and sitting on a boat or wet ground for hours in the mist and rain (because that's the best time to catch fish, according to my dad) in order to skewer fish in the mouths with pointy hooks just to throw them back into the pond just doesn't sound like a good time.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Go Wild

Yesterday, my roommate found out that someone had gotten ahold of her credit card, and racked up charges of $800 and $300 at Target and Payless Shoes, respectively.

Aim high, criminals. Aim high.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quick Life Update

So I'm sitting here, trying not to gag or be asphyxiated by the fumes from the anti-roach spray I just liberally sprayed in every corner and inside most of the kitchen cabinets, unsure whether to be totally grossed out or to just be a Grown Up and come to terms with the fact that everyone in New York has cockroaches, and to count my blessings that at least they're the small kind*, and that we really don't have a total infestation.

But seriously, cockroaches are pretty horrendous. They're small, fast, and after you see a couple you start to think you see them everywhere. And feel like they're on you at all times, until you start hitting yourself like a tourette's sufferer and then feel stupid because what you actually felt on your neck was your hair. But what really gets to me is that no matter how neurotic I am about keeping the kitchen clean, there's always that crumb that fell out of the toaster in the closet, or a smear of grease on the stovetop that I didn't notice and they always, always seem to find it.

So I've been forced to become quite creative when it comes to killing them. Since I've always been bad at smushing bugs (I always made my dad come and deal with spiders, and I always cringe when my mom makes me kill ants), I've had to figure out alternatives. Not only do I have traps and baits and kill-on-contact spray, but I have so far:

- Dropped books on them (first covering it with a napkin so it won't run away/smear on my Celtic Music textbook)
- Lit them on fire (there was one on the stove that I tried to smush while on the phone, but didn't press hard enough because, as I said, I find smushing things revolting. I didn't see where it went, so I just turned on all the burners, and turned them off about 30 seconds later. I lifted up my cast-iron pan and sure enough, it was all curled up and dead. So I picked it up with a spoon and flushed it down the toilet. I then boiled the spoon.)
- Covered them with soap (apparently they breath through their skin, so the soap means they can't get oxygen)
- Drowned them (I chased one all around this morning until I finally got it into the sink, and shoved it down the drain.)

Now, I'm the first one to call someone out about hurting animals. After all, inflicting pain on small creatures is a sure-fire indicator of sociopathic tendencies, aka serial killer-ness. But I don't think I'm a sociopath. After all, I don't want to hurt or torture the roaches. I just want them to die. Quickly. And to kill all the rest of their ilk.

And really, can serial killers make distinctions like that?

*Once, when my mother was still in graduate school and I was about eight years old, I came along to her biology class because my father had to work/mom couldn't find a babysitter/whatever. The teacher had this entire set of large tropical bugs in an aquarium thing. One was one of those millipedes the size of a large snake, and the other was a massive, rainforest cockroaches roughly the size of a small rat. Since I was a child, and since those bugs were actually harmless, the teacher thought she'd be cute and have me hold them. Now, I HATE bugs. I have always hated bugs. In fact, if all bugs except possibly fireflys and ladybugs disappeared, I would drop to my knees and thank God for finally revealing itself to me. But for some god-awful reason, that teacher (who I think might have been a nun) made me hold that cockroach and touch the millipede's legs, and to this day I have nightmares about oversized bugs. Just thought that anecdote might be entertaining.

Thursday, October 29, 2009



I have a confession to make: I don't particularly like Halloween.

It's certainly not my least favorite holiday, a designation that would better fall on Columbus Day, or Labor Day, or President's Day, or any of the other meaningless national holidays that often pass without notice (I still regularly mix up Memorial Day and Labor Day). But for some reason, Halloween seems to have lost most of its appeal. And it's a particularly strange phenomenon, given that Halloween really does have everything going for it. It's in autumn, by far my favorite season, and is usually accompanied by crisp, refreshing weather. The color palate of orange, black, with changing-leaf shades thrown in is perfect for decorating, and my apartment is currently strewn with pumpkins and pipe-cleaner spiders that I made back in elementary school, much to the amusement of my roommate, who has never decorated for a holiday before. And Halloween involves candy! Who doesn't love a holiday where one of the main recreations is to get a sugar high?

But despite all of these things, I can't get nearly as into Halloween as Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or even Easter (which are my favorite holidays, respectively). And I can't totally put my finger on exactly why I no longer really like Halloween. But I think the change came when the focus became less on collecting and devouring fun sized candy bars (though I always was, and still am, partial to nerds) to dressing like a fetish hooker and bar-hopping.

Not that there's anything wrong with bar-hopping (or dressing like a fetish hooker, sometimes. Everything in moderation, kids!). I think what gets to me is the forced merriment. Maybe it's the Irish in me, but holidays bring out the worst of my skeptical and contradictory side. But it's the same message as I got on my 21st birthday: Go out and Have Fun! Lots of Fun! And Drink! Because that's how you Have Fun! Well, if anything is guaranteed to make me not have a good time, it's pressure to Have Fun. Being forced to Have Fun generally makes me want to curl up under a blanket and watch like, Gangs of New York while every one else goes out and gets obliterated. I truly enjoy going out spontaneously (more so, in fact, than I have in years. It probably has something to do with not having to constantly worry someone is going to call Bullshit on my id, and having finally conquered the majority of my body insecurities), but a night where I have to go out makes me far too stressed out.

But I will make the best of this Halloween, getting dressed up and going to a party. I have a psychedelic yellow outfit that my grandmother used to wear during the 60s, and it's big enough to show lots of midriff while not big enough to fall off or trip me (if I fold up the skirt significantly). I'm going to learn how to make a daisy crown for my hair. All in all, it's a better costume than I've had in years, despite the fact that my haircut is not at all hippie-ish. I just need to come up with a personality, and I'll be set.

***By the way, this is not at all the way I feel about Halloween. I'm a liberal! I'm all about handouts for tricksters and liars. I just thought it was funny.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

What to Do on a Rainy Sunday

What should you do when you wake up to cold, rain, and lots of homework?

Why, make baked apples, of course!

Yesterday my mother came to visit, bringing with her a bag of apples roughly the weight of a small child. So acting on her advice to eat them as quickly as possible, I made these baked apples, filled with oats, honey, lemon peel, butter, and ginger. Next time I think I'll leave out the butter and add more honey, because I like my desserts sweet. Very sweet.

Next up, some sort of apple chutney! Or a crumble! Advice?