Risking it All (or Not) for My Youth Back

I was at a sort-of networking/motivational speaker-type event recently, the kind of event where you have to wear nametags, but since this was an event for creative folks, they’re not just straight-forward, run-of-the-mill nametags…they’re free-expression, icebreaker-type nametags.

“Hello. I’m ­______________. I would RISK it all for ­­­­­­­_______________.”

I stood hunched over the registration table, Sharpie hanging in the air, totally stumped.

smug risk taker
That’s a throw back to my stumped face circa 1998, I think. And some brown lipstick/brown lipliner. RISKY. 

It was, after all, pre-coffee for me, and this was, after all, my first time attending the event, which was positively brimming with bright, shiny, young, creative faces—all of whom seemed to know each other and were totally comfortable in their own individual creative-y-ness. I was already questioning my decision to come.

With perspiration beading on my upper lip and after what seemed like an eternity–but was probably more like 45 seconds–I scribbled “more sleep” into that gaping, second blank spot, ripped the sticker off its backing, and slapped it on my blazer just below my shoulder. And thus began my morning-long fight against the insufficiently sticky nametag as each of the four edges took turns curling inwards and obscuring my most creative thought/answer.

I immediately regretted not writing “world peace” or, even better: “whirled peas.”

I walked around the pre-event, networking breakfast, reading other people’s name tags. And I was blown away by the responses some of these kids (well, yeah, mostly) had written on their name tags. Apparently, young, creative people will risk it all for just about anything, including coffee, breakfast, really good vegan cupcakes, and Cheetos.

scooter risk taker
Now this girl is a serious risk taker. Riding a scooter with mules? Dangergirl!

It seemed like a pretty weighty question and yet all the answers I saw were pretty frivolous, in my mind. I mean, not that mine was much better. Come on. “More sleep?” What’s up with that, old timer? Prostate acting up or something?

Then I remembered when I was young and embraced risk, and yes, all those frivolous answers reminded me of those days. Hell, I was not just a risk taker, I was downright reckless.

  • I thought nothing of accepting an internship and packing up my crappy car to move across country without a dime to my name. I ate trail mix three times a day for two weeks until my first paycheck because of that stupid move.
  • I sold all my furniture and most of my worldly goods for a short-term move to London, convinced that I would figure something out and never have to come back to the U.S. I had no plan beyond that first six months, nor any idea what I was thinking was going to happen. But it didn’t and I did come back to the U.S., now broke and with not a stick of furniture.
  • I accepted a job here in D.C. that I knew I was vastly underqualified for, sold my car for cash, and rented an apartment (sight unseen) before driving a U-Haul 24 hours straight to get to said apartment two days before starting that nightmare of a job. All of which was extremely risky. (The apartment turned out alright, though).

And that’s just the stuff I feel comfortable talking about on a public forum.

Risk taker
I guess we won’t talk about this questionable decision. 

Back then, I would have said, “I would RISK it all for a good time and a better story.” I was young, hungry (both literally and figuratively), and my hustle was impressive, to say the least.

But as I stood hunched over that nametag, I realized how much times have changed. I’ve settled down quite a bit and my hustle has, too. I’m way more risk-adverse in my mid-40s than I was in my 20s or even my early 30s. Gone are the days of Bill Roulette–that’s where you take all your bills, put them in a bag and pull one out, and that’s the one that gets paid that month. I pay my bills early. I put money into retirement. I keep my insurance up to date. I get regular dental cleanings. I try to not get involved and clear up every misunderstanding I see taking place on the DC metro system (I’m still working on that one, actually).

Angry risk taker
Riled up and giving ’em hell, even on Halloween, circa 1995 (?maybe?)

What would I risk it all for today? Nothing. There’s almost nothing worth risking it all for.

There’s a good reason for all this change of heart: I just have way more to lose. I’m no longer jumping at every perceived experience or opportunity, hoping that things work out. I don’t “fly by the seat of my pants” anymore. Now I like security: having a plan and a nest egg to fall back on.

Sometimes I miss that devil-may-care girl I used to be, the one with more guts than sense. But then I look at the really good life I’ve managed to build, and all the people that are in it, and I can’t imagine taking any risks that would jeopardize any of that. Not even for whirled peas.

 

Friday Links: The It’s Monday and Everybody Loves Will Ferrell Edition

Katy Perry/Will Ferrell mashup
Source: Paramount Pictures, Getty

That’s right, Friday’s links on a Monday. That’s because I went to a networking event on Thursday that morphed into a happy hour that turned into a very happy night so Poe Communications/Beverage Distributors Inc. was closed on Friday. Sometimes, happy hour gets in the way of running a multimedia communications empire.

Scuba Diving Can Absolutely Kill You: Bali Edition

Our vacation to Bali wasn’t all delicious food and kite flying. I also cheated death.

Fine. That might be a bit dramatic. But it sure felt like I could have easily died while scuba diving in Bali.

Most dangerous scuba diving locations - NOT Bali.
Surprisingly, Bali is NOT listed here. Incomplete list, in my opinion.

Here are four signs that scuba diving in Bali might not be for you.

1) Your PayPal account gets hacked.

We went with Bali Diving in Sanur. They picked you up, took you to the dive shop for the paperwork, out on the boat, and then back to your hotel. They also allowed you to pay the deposit via PayPal. We paid the deposit for our three-dive trip, and it appeared to all work out fine. Then, a few days after we got home, I got a message from PayPal warning me that there had been unusual activity on my PayPal account. Apparently, someone with an Indonesian name and address had added themselves onto my account. I quickly changed my password and went in and deleted the extra name/address.

2) Your dive instructor doesn’t speak English.

Continue reading Scuba Diving Can Absolutely Kill You: Bali Edition

Yep, That’s 1,300 Words on ‘Jungle Gold’

As you may know by now, The Poe-XFE-Petunia household will gladly watch just about any reality television show that Discovery or A&E wants to foist on the unsuspecting viewing public.

For example, we recently watched an episode of “Doomsday Castle,” (basically a combination of “Doomsday Preppers” and “This Old House”). The hillbilly family featured in the show includes a cantankerous father yelling at his lazy, good for nothing offspring because they were moving too slow on a project to secure a steady water supply for their bleak, albeit large, bunker.

Or “Airplane Repo,” a nail-biting view into the world of luxury airplanes and the formerly flush CEOs who couldn’t keep up the payments. I’m still dumbfounded that someone can just walk onto a tarmac at a small, private airport, and just hop in the cockpit and fly away with a Lear jet.

We are especially susceptible to any shows with either “Alaska” or “Gold” in the title. Which brings me to the show that has me yelling at the television the most these days: “Jungle Gold.”

Discovery Channel
They always make those faces. And yes, the bullet proof vests are absolutely essential to gold mining.

“Jungle Gold” follows two Utah fortune hunters, George and Scott, and their Keystone Cop-like efforts to mine gold in Ghana. As in Africa. As in, not the most stable business environment.

As a former reporter covering trade and foreign policy, I used to have to write stories about the amazing business potential of Africa. And, invariably, whenever I asked the question of, “well, if there’s so much opportunity there, why aren’t businesses jumping at the chance,” I ran across the same answers again and again and again: political instability, corruption, lack of adherence to the rule of law, insecure infrastructure and supply chains, lack of an educated workforce, and on and on and on. Basically, anything you would need to run a business in Africa was lacking or severely deficient. The message was: you do business in Africa, you take your chances.

George and Scott didn’t get that memo. In fact, you kind of got the impression that those guys thought they were there to help liberate Ghana of all its gold, and only they could fulfill that destiny. Like they were doing the Ghanans some sort of favor or something.

ghana gold guys
Hmmm, seems like the Ghanans already have this under control.

It doesn’t help that George and Scott are kinda idiots. We gleaned from season one that these guys were formerly in the real estate business; ie: selling expensive houses and making bad loans to people who couldn’t afford them. When the financial market crashed, and the regulators began cracking down on the get-rich-quick scheme that was the American housing market, these guys basically had to find a new scam. I have no idea how that led to Ghana and gold, but I guess it beats getting a job at Starbucks (full disclosure: I’ve had a job at Starbucks. I think, in my limited experience, it was vastly preferable to gold hunting in Ghana).

But to Ghana Scott and George went, and their first televised effort was a total bust. To be fair, there are people successfully mining gold in Ghana. There are numerous small time operators, many of whom appear indigenous or at the very least, to live in Ghana. There are also, of course, a large number of Chinese gold miners, who appear to be mining illegally on land they just set up camp on. Very similar to what George and Scott do at first.

gold pellets
Not poop. Gold from Ghana.

Last season, our erstwhile Utah miners, George and Scott were saddled with equipment failures and the inability to secure land rights to mine. Plus, there was that whole ignorance of anything resembling a skill—neither of them can drive any of the equipment, they don’t know how to fix or patch any of the broken equipment. Hell, they barely even know how to pan. Needless to say, they were off to a rough start in their newly chosen profession.

So to get some money to keep their operation going, the two ended up participating in a quick-money “gold flipping” scheme in which they buy gold cheaply and take it into town to have it assayed. They buy the gold primarily from the illegal mining operations who prefer to stay out of the public square and who can’t afford to leave their illegal operations unprotected to travel over dangerous terrain for four-plus hours in order to cash in their gold.

Not surprisingly, that effort ended with George and Scott buying a large chunk of gold from an illegal mining operation, and then (rather predictably) getting robbed at gunpoint of said gold when they got back into their trucks and headed triumphantly down the road and straight into a staged road block. It was all pretty dramatic and very fake seeming, I must say.

jpeg

Nevertheless, since the whole enterprise had been a dangerous failure and they were hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, I figured that would be the end of the Jungle Gold Jackasses.

Oh, how wrong I was.

The second season started in August and had the boys contemplating a return to the jungles of Ghana. Even more frustrating, they secured a fairly substantial amount of funding from Scott’s father-in-law, in a move that had me questioning this supposedly successful businessman’s acumen. Who the hell would put up $50,000-plus for their son-in-law to leave his wife and children behind and go gallivanting for gold in Ghana? I cannot even fathom it. Unless, the Discovery Channel was really the one putting up the money, which seems much more logical. OR, another scenario just popped in my head: Maybe the father-in-law was hoping Scott didn’t make it back? Hmmmmm.

Anyway, the guys are once again, total failures at their gold endeavors, throwing good money after bad, trying to mine during Ghana’s approximately 10-month rainy season in an area devoid of roads, and encountering local hostilities from other miners and the government authorities.

oh yeah
Dude, I totally just suckered my father-in-law into giving us more money.

That last little wrinkle led to this season’s entirely over dramatic 2-hour finale, which we watched this weekend.

Long story short(ish): In a confusing series of events, George and Scott go to the office of the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources to secure a license to mine on the land which they’ve already staked out. We know it’s the Ministry’s office because of a cardboard sign that says so.  After a few tense minutes, George and Scott come out and tell us they have successful procured said license. Victory is theirs and they immediately go to lease two large excavators and a front loader to the tune of about $25,000.

About two scenes later, the guys say the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has issued warrants for their arrests. It’s all over the African news. AND there’s been a violent attack and robbery on a neighboring mining operation, by some form of militia or people wearing uniform-like outfits and carrying weapons and Scott and George become convinced that this militia was looking for them. They tell us that they are now “Ghana’s most wanted.”

wanted
Wanted….for extremely annoying and self-important behavior.

They then embark on a low-speed, non-chase to outrun the armed militia group. Who we never see. To avoid all the military checkpoints along the main road to Accra, George and Scott take a helicopter to Accra’s international airport. But rather than staying in the safety of the airplane hangar at the airport, they go to a nearby large hotel to stay the night.

Meanwhile, the television crew, which also allegedly has warrants out for its arrests, make the seven hour drive, rolling through the various checkpoints with nary a problem. Still no sign of this supposed militia chasing down Ghana’s most wanted.

We’re then treated to a very long and dramatized play-by-play of the boys and the television crew getting to their Discovery Channel-chartered flight. The show really builds the tension by having George and Scott cut in between every mundane step of going through security, customs, passport control, and boarding gate to tell us how afraid they were each step of the totally procedural process.

customs
Seriously, how many times to I need to show documentation to board an international flight? Oh, three times? Oh. OK.

Honestly, it was the exact same process all of us encounter while navigating an airport. Yes, you’ll have to go to the ticket counter and check in. Yes, you have to go through an initial passport/boarding pass check. Yes, you have to go through security, etc. etc. But to these guys, every set of eyes were potential whistleblowers. XFE compared it to the escape scene in Argo. Except, in Argo, real danger existed. And in “Jungle Gold”….well, debatable. They were definitely laying it on pretty thick.

Hopefully, this is the end of “Jungle Gold.” As one of the miner/actors said when someone was trying to shake down some money for some additional equipment: “That’s a lot of money for us and it’s not that easy. Money doesn’t just fall down from the sky.” Well, boys, it doesn’t just grow up out of the ground either. Maybe y’all should try crabbing in Alaska or something.

rail road
Don’t worry, Ghana. We’ll be back.

Stop Eating Each Other!

Fellow civilized people of the world: Can we just make a pact right now? Can we just agree not to eat each other? Please. It’s getting ridiculous. And I don’t appreciate our government having to waste time and taxpayer dollars reassuring people that there’s not a zombie apocalypse happening.

Although, I must say, the evidence FOR a zombie apocalypse is starting to stack up. (for the record: I’m not into the whole zombie trend. It’s really not a cute look.)

I was watching the news on Friday morning and there was a lovely, cheerful story about a young man in Baltimore who killed, dismembered and ate his roommate’s brains and heart.

Listen, I get it: roommates can be totally annoying. They don’t replace the toilet paper, they leave dirty dishes in the sink, they eat your yogurt. But you can’t go around killing them! And then dismembering them. And then eating them. None of that is an acceptable way to deal with a roommate.

Instead, why not ask them to move out? If you keep this up, you’ll never find another roommate and you’ll have to pay rent all on your own. Oh wait – sharing rent is not going to be a problem in prison.

So, if your intent was to cut down on your rent, congratulations. Well played, crazy dude, well played.

Then there’s the Miami Zombie. You know, the young man who ran around naked, attacked a homeless guy in broad daylight and literally CHEWED HIS FACE OFF. For like, 18 minutes. Oh, but his girlfriend assures us he was a sweet, well-mannered man who carried his Bible everywhere. And, she thinks that he must have had a voodoo curse on him.

OK, I’ve made a lot of excuses for my bad behaviors before, but voodoo curse is a new one. I’m going to have to add that one to the excuse arsenal.

Actually, the conventional wisdom is that he was high on bath salts. One of my New Year resolutions was to not snort bath salts. I knew they were dangerous. I called that.

Not to be outdone, some low-rent porn star from Canada is on the run after murdering his Asian lover with an icepick, uploading the video of the murder to the Internet, dismembering the man and then mailing a foot to Canada’s Conservative Party and a hand to the Liberal Party. Ah, so I see, it was a bipartisan killing. Members of Congress could learn a lot from this young man. Let’s give him a hand. Or a foot.

And I thought Canadians were a peaceful lot. Oh, and speaking of peaceful cultures, a Swedish man suspected his much younger wife of cheating on him, so he flew into a rage, cut off her lips, and then allegedly ate them. He’s not blaming bath salts or voodoo curses or anything. He said he did it because his honor had been compromised.

In case you’re wondering, (because I was) he ate the lips because he didn’t want them to be sewn back on. That is some seriously premeditated crap.

Check it, my little Swedish meatball – I, too, have a bad temper and am a pretty jealous person. I would definitely cut a bitch if I found out she was trying to make Lingonberry jam with my man, if you know what I mean.

But you cannot go around biting off your wife’s lips. That is a surefire way to divorce court, where she will take all your Ikea furniture (and your money) and you’ll be reduced to rooming with that dude in Baltimore. And he is NOT a good roommate.

But my absolute favorite zombie-cannibal story this past week is actually all about self-mutilation. A man in Hackensack, New Jersey barricaded himself in his house, called the police, and threatened to kill himself. When the police intervened (even pepper spraying him), the man had stabbed himself multiple times (reportedly 50 times) with a 12-inch kitchen knife and then threw pieces of his skin and intestines at the police.

“Ok Mr. Cop, you think you want some of this? You want some of this? This right here? My intestines? Well HERE YOU GO!”

Wow, dude. I guess you showed them. Seriously? Was there nothing else around that you could throw at the police? Maybe a shoe or something. Maybe the knife? What the hell?

If I even get a paper cut, I double over and start howling. I can’t even imagine disemboweling myself. And then flinging my disemboweled entrails (is that repetitive? Are all entrails by their nature disemboweled?) at armed authority figures? Yeah, not this girl.

It’s been a crazy week, that’s for sure. Wonder what next week’s trend will be? How do you top zombie cannibalism and self-mutilation??

Running Update: Hopping Pathetically Down the Bilby Trail

You’re probably reading along on the PoeLog and noting the conspicuous absence of posts about a certain activity, and you might be asking yourself, “Hey, I wonder if Poe still runs?”

Or maybe you have more important things to think about, such as when the heck is Jessica Simpson going to give birth? (Seriously, she’s been pregnant for like 2 years now. Her pregnancy feels like an episode of the truly awful Fashion Star. — Ya’ll, it’s really, really bad).

The short answer is yes. Poe still runs. It’s not, however, very blogworthy, unless you want to read post after post of how hard it is and how much I suck at it. Because I do. I really, really do.

It seems like no matter how hard I work at it, I still cannot get this whole running thing down. You would think, for all the difficulty involved, that I was trying to hijack Easter and get everybody to munch on delicious chocolate-y bilbies instead of bunnies.

Good luck with that, Australia. You guys are so crazy. Love your wine though.

I cut way back on my running after the infamous Las Vegas Rock N Roll or Die Half Marathon in December. My runs pretty much consisted of session on the gym treadmill and since my gym evidently doubles as a Turkish hammam, these sessions were limited to about 30 gasping, dying minutes, or about 3 miles.

I tried to supplement these pathetic efforts with more weight training and even some Pilates classes, but after a few weeks of pitiful attempts, I threw in the naturally-organic yoga towel. Luckily, I had a good excuse for my timely quitting: Australia.

(Just a quick note on my Pilates adventure: Apparently, my core is made completely of marshmallow fluff as I am unable to sit up without the use of my arms and someone else pulling me. Like this girl explains.)

While I was in Australia, I didn’t work out at all, unless you count scuba diving, which is in fact, a form of exercise and a pretty damn good one too. However, I ate so much food it offset any cardio I may have engaged in. Which is all fine. That’s what vacation is for. I don’t regret it.

Since we’ve been back and with the mild weather approaching, I’ve slowly been trying to get back into running. Slowly being the operative word. It seems to get harder and harder to start back up with an activity once you’ve abandoned it for a while. Who would have thought?

To help motivate me, I’ve used an age-old technique that seems to work for me: fear of public embarrassment. I’ve signed up for three small races (no more half marathons for this girl) this spring. The longest one is a 10k and that distance alone may still kill me.

Want to join me? Here’s what I’ve signed up for so far:

Parkway Classic 5k and 10 miler– I did the 10 miler last year, and oh, what a difference a year makes. Last year around this time, I was a much, much stronger runner. This year, entirely different story. No, this year, I’ll just be running the 5k, thankyouverymuch. This race also happens to be the day after Amy’s wedding, which might make things a teeny bit difficult. Registration for this event is closed, but if you’re in the neighborhood, come out and point and laugh at me for being an idiot who signed up for a race the day after a wedding. I mean, people don’t drink at weddings, do they??

Run for Shelter 10k – I’m actually pretty excited about this one. Because of what it supports, not because of the distance. Although, 10k’s used to be my favorite distance. Oh memories. Now 10k seems very difficult indeedy. BUT, this race supports the Carpenter’s Shelter, the largest homeless shelter in Northern Virginia. The shelter is near our house and I very much support their mission. And, there are cakepops at the finish. I’m not really sure I’ll be in the mood for cakey, sugary things after running six miles, but I’m going to give it a shot.

Alexandria Running Festival Half Marathon and 5k – Guess which distance I’m running? Believe me, the Kids’ 1k Fun Run was definitely an appealing option at one point, but the stupid age cutoff is a bit young for me.

The Ups and Downs of Bachelorette Dining in New York

I still have a few more Australia posts to write (nope, not letting go of vacation), but I did want to talk about this past weekend’s trip to New York and specifically the food before I forget it all in a work-and-life-in-general-induced haze.

Lucky Cheng’s not surprisingly, was not very good on the food front. But then, why would it be? Nobody’s there for the food. Or the service. Let me tell you. As one of the girls said this week, “Those drag queens waited tables like men.” And it’s true. The fine ladies of Lucky Cheng’s put the word “wait” into “waitressing.”

lucky chengs

Unfortunately, when the food did arrive, it didn’t really put the glitter in my platforms either, if you know what I mean. We had five forgettable appetizers. Oh wait. Not entirely forgettable. I remember the butternut squash soup tasting not-so-mildly like soap. Soup/Soap/Let’s call the whole thing off. And let’s give a round of quiet clapping to the fine dishwashing staff who must’ve done their jobs so admirably well that we could taste the results of their hard work. Bravo.

This was followed by four platters of supposedly “tasty Pan Asian cuisine” to share, none of it very good or easy to eat. I remember wrestling with a quarter-chicken drenched in some dark sauce and served on what I think was mashed potatoes. I don’t know. At the risk of sounding like a cranky, near-sighted old lady (which might all be accurate), the lighting was turned down so low you really couldn’t see a thing. Which might have actually been a blessing in disguise.

There definitely was some dry fried rice with indeterminate meat products involved. I had a spoonful of that. Overall, there was much food left on the table after it was all said and done.

Amy and a queen

I guess we were sort of warned about the food quality. When we called to confirm gluten-free options for the bride-to-be, we were told to call back when the chef got in at 7 pm. Considering that the first show began at 7:30, we all thought this was a pretty laid back approach to dinner prep.

The next morning, we dragged our starving selves to brunch at Balthazar. This incredibly popular hotspot is very Paris bistro chic. The interiors are gorgeous, with lots of old mirrors, wood floors, and milky light fixtures. It’s massive, and yet, crowded beyond belief and fairly noisy. We had reservations for noon and the place just got busier from there.

balthazar

Three of us had eggs Florentine with spinach and artichokes, another girl had steak and frites, and our gluten-free friend had a simple omelette. The eggs Florentine came in these adorable little skillets, and each was perfectly cooked according to our stated preferences (I like mine a little on the hard poached side, which I know is an insult to chefs everywhere).

The only problem with these adorable little skillets is they didn’t really hold a lot of actual food. And there weren’t any sides. Amy’s omelette came with home fries cooked in clarified butter (she can’t have dairy either), so we swooped in and ate those little delishiousnesses as well.

eggs florentine

The service was pretty good, when we could distract our waiter from looking at himself in the oversized mirrors behind our banquette. I will say, once we got his attention to place our orders, things came out very soon after and they were very quick to clear away our Bloody Mary glasses the minute we put them down.

It was ok, as far as $22 eggs go. Next time, I’d come at a less busy time, park in a corner with some café au lait and a book and just soak up the vibe. Also, the location—near all the shopping in SoHo—can’t be beat.

Finally, for Saturday night dinner we went to Mario Battali’s Babbo. This was definitely the highlight of the weekend eating. We had 9:30 pm reservations and again, the place was packed. Babbo is inside a tiny New York townhouse, complete with a large staircase in the middle of the downstairs dining room.

Babbo

Even with reservations, we had to wait about 10-15 minutes, but once we were sat in our upstairs corner table, we understood why. The service was impeccable. Not at all rushed but everything came out perfectly timed. The pacing was just perfection.

We started with fragrant blood orange cosmopolitans, which were recommended by our very helpful waiter. After a tasty crostini topped with chickpeas and balsamic vinegar reduction, we moved on to appetizers.

chickpea amuse

I was a bit disappointed in my carciofi romana (Roman-style artichokes). They were four small grilled artichoke hearts topped with a single little crostini with goat cheese. It would have been better reversed: four goat cheese crostini’s topped with the artichoke hearts.

The real appetizer winner was our friend Linda’s grilled octopus. It was so nice and smoky and had a lemony vinaigrette and was just amazing.

We split a few pasta dishes including one of my favorites from our trip to Rome, bucatiniall’ Amatriciana. Again, I was just slightly disappointed. They made the wonderfully spiced sauce with pork cheek instead of bacon and I personally feel like the heat of the sauce could have used a more fatty, salty, bacon-y contrast.

Far better was the pumpkin “lune” (basically little raviolis) with sage and browned butter. I wanted to lick the plate, it was so good. I was actually sad that I had to share it with the other girls. I almost ordered one for dessert (what I’m saying here is that I liked it.)

For a main course, I had braised beef. It was salty and tender and extremely satisfying.

braised beef

Finally we came to the desserts. I resisted the urge to order more lune and instead we split three desserts amongst us, including the marscapone cheese cake, the chocolate hazelnut cake (which I thought would be my favorite), and the pistachio and chocolate semifreddo (which actually was recommended by our waiter and again, he didn’t steer us wrong. It was my favorite). But honestly, none of them were bad and in fact, they were very, very good.

And with that, five very stuffed girls tottered out on their high heels into the night.

Another Awesome Idea I Can’t Take Credit For – But I CAN Mimic

You all know about this website, yes? If not, you should definitely acquaint yourself. It’s hilarious. Suri’s Burn Book is basically an imaginary (or is it?) look into the mind of one young Suri Cruise, currently the queen of all celebrity offspring. Basically, the authors imagine Ms. Suri snarking on all the other celebrity kids out there. You know, making fun of their clothes, grooming habits and weight, lack of coordination, embarrassing parents. All the things that we’re all thinking but would be totally unacceptable for an adult to say about small children, but since it’s voiced by another child, totally copacetic. Some favorite targets include the Jolie-Pitt brood, the Affleck-Garner girls, and a reluctant girl-crush on a certain Harper Beckham.

It’s pure genius and I’m furious I didn’t think of it first.

While discussing the site with a few friends a couple of months ago, I began to imagine how I could steal (I mean, emulate) such a magic formula.

That’s when Lourdes Leon popped into my head.

Here’s a girl, a mere 14-years-old, and she’s already a fashion icon with her own clothing line. It got me thinking: Lola’s so cool and hip, I’ll bet she thinks she’s cooler and hipper than her mom. And, since she’s a teenager, she’s probably oozing with over-privileged angst. Why, I bet she’s even embarrassed by her mom at times.

So, I thought we might play a little game of Lourdes’ Burn Book: The Teenage Years.

Photo: Rex. Whoever he is.

October 2:

Seriously, what could be more embarrassing than having your mom dress like you? Leather is for young people — get your own style, mom! Be an individual, geeze! I get it: you wore some cool stuff in the 80s. Some might even say you were a trend setter. But you’re time has passed. Time to stay home and knit doilies. And do you have to bring that other “child;” ie: your 24-year old French break dancer boyfriend Brahim Zaibat to our Kabbalah service? I. Die.

Nice hat. Still trying too hard, mom.

October 3:

Madge (I refuse to call her “mom” until she starts to recognize and respect my maturity) is in talks to play the halftime show at the Super Bowl. In Indianapolis. That’s not even a cool city. I bet there aren’t even any H&Ms there.

October 6:

My gurl Ri-Ri has beaten Madge’s record for a solo artist achieving 20 top 10 singles in the shortest amount of time. Queen of Pop my ass. Madge better stop thinking about playing the Super Bowl and start working on some hits. Maybe some collaborations. Seems like Nikki Minaj could help out here.

OK, you were kinda nice to have around.

October 9:

As if things couldn’t get even more embarrassing. Some topless photos of Madge have been “leaked.” Whatever. And they’re not even posed, they’re just of her changing for a photo shoot. She’s not even aware the photos are being taken. Ugh. That’s not sexy. I bet it was that boy-toy Brazilian model Jesus Luz. He was such a tool. I’m so glad he’s outta here; although the break dancer isn’t exactly a step up. Here’s hoping she doesn’t marry him.

 

Five Stages of Porktober Acceptance

*WARNING: A pig was  most definitely harmed in the making of this post. If you’re squeamish, skip this one. If you like tasty, delicious pork and all it’s derivatives, read on.

There comes a time in every girl’s life when she realizes she is not in control of her relationship. She is not the driver of the “You + Me = Domestic Bliss 4Eva” bus. She is not the master of her fate or even, as it turns out, her own bathtub.

No, there is a day when a girl walks into her lovely pink and white bathroom after a long day at work, and discovers a 56-pound pig lounging on ice in her bathtub, right next to the Jo Malone White Jasmine and Mint bath oil and the Kate Somerville ExfoliKate facial scrub.

Honey, look what I found on my way home! Can we keep it?

The story of how this pig came to be in my tub is a long one, debated and revisited over several months. But in the interest of not driving myself crazy, here’s how I came to accept what has become known as Porktober. I will use the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief model to illustrate.

Denial —“This can’t be happening, not to me.”
My normally-sane-personal-chef-for-life XFE first read about roasting a whole pig in the July issue of Men’s Health magazine (so around June). It should be noted that the Men’s Health subscription was a gift I purchased for him a few years back. I wonder which subscription we’ll let lapse next year? Hmmmm. My first response when XFE suggested roasting a pig on the brick-laid back patio of our rented home was, “You must be kidding. That’s never going to happen. Forget it.” I was sure he was joking. Or that the next month’s magazine would contain a retraction along the lines of: “Yeah, remember that pig thing? Nobody in a highly-populated area with historic, woodframe rowhouses close to each other should attempt this. That means you, XFE of Alexandria, Virginia.”

Anger — “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; “Who is to blame?”
Once in the second stage, I began to realize XFE was quite serious and I raged against Men’s Health and the entire publishing industry. My anger also took the form of ridicule towards the animal kingdom (“Pigs are so stupid.”), the cooking industry (“Roasting is such a stupid way to cook something.”) and domesticity (“Boyfriends are so stupid.”). I received sympathetic nods and increased personal space from those within earshot.

This is what I woke up to at 6:30 AM on Saturday morning. Honey, can you pass the creamer?

Bargaining — “I’ll do anything to keep my patio non-scorched.”; “I will give my life savings if we can stop the pig.”
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay the inevitable. Since the planned pig roast was timed to coincide with XFE’s birthday, I tried to lure him away from the idea with promises of parties at other sparkling locales, complete with DJs, disco lights and bartenders (He likes DJs! He likes disco lights! He likes bartenders!) Alas, alack, he also likes cooking large animals over an open fire and impressing large groups of people with his culinary skills, which are, fair enough, substantial.) There was even a half-hearted attempt at blackmail involving XFE support at a half marathon in Annapolis in late November, which I dropped when I remembered I don’t like running (or doing anything else) in the cold.

Darling, wouldn't you just rather have some nice little sweet cherry gummy piggies? Wouldn't you just?!

Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “The pig is coming, so what’s the point… What’s the point?”
During the fourth stage, I began to understand the certainty of the now-named Porktober. After all, invitations had gone out. Spits had been rented, medieval trussing needles procured. Steve the butcher had been contacted. As the event grew closer, I became more silent, withdrawn whenever pig talk came up. I began to disconnect from my affection towards pigs. I used my Porktober-depression as an excuse for being distracted at work and slacking off at running. Again, there was little or no sympathy for my plight.

The only thing that could possibly bring me out of my depression -- sangria.

Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”
In this last stage, I began to come to terms with the pig roast and even found humor in the situation, which is, after all, my normal coping mechanism. There were also a lot of eye-rolls and snarking during the final prep and assembly of the pig, which, while perhaps not qualifying as 100% acceptance, is again, a part of my coping mechanism.  

And so, gentle readers, after finally processing these stages, I let go of my expectation that I was in control in this relationship and fully embraced the concept (if not the execution – *insert eye roll here) of Porktober. And, even though it meant conceding dominance, I’m ultimately glad I did. After all, everything from the planning and prep to the oohing and aahhing when XFE and his co-conspirator Leland pulled the pig off the spit made XFE so happy. He was pretty entertained for several months. And, it was, after all, his birthday.

Then, things got very medieval around here.

Other than the bathtub pig storage (my bathroom is the only one with a tub—that’s how I lost out on that deal) and the post-pig-rainy-day-cleanup, we actually had a lot of fun. I’ll give more details in the days ahead. Along with more pig pictures, of course. Don’t let you significant others see it….they might get ideas.

At least Running Buddy Amy was there to cheer me up. We were pretty damn cheerful by the time that pig was done.

Has your significant other ever gotten his way on a crazy idea? How did you deal with it? What bargaining/concessions did you get in return?

Savage Beauty (Interrupted)

I just got back from an amazing weekend in New York, so there will be a few blog posts this week on that trip.

One of the main reason I went to NY this weekend was to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met, which I did this morning.

McQueen ethereal
gray and white silk printed organza

But yesterday, my friend Emilia and I went on a walking chocolate tour. It was great and we really loved it. We got to taste chocolates at five different places, including Neuhaus, Lily O’Brien’s, La Maison du Chocolat, 5th Avenue Chocolatiere, Charbonnel & Walker.

While we were at La Maison du Chocolat, we saw on Twitter that Amy Winehouse had died. The location was a bit fitting since the first word that came to my mind when I heard the news was “bittersweet.” It’s always sad when someone so talented just self-destructs. No matter how talented and loved you are, anyone can sink into a dark morass of hopelessness.

As I rolled the chocolate on my tongue, I thought how sad it was that she couldn’t find pleasure in such a simple thing.

I remember having a similar bittersweet thought when I first heard that Alexander McQueen had killed himself. What a waste. And how cruel. Both of them took their talent away from the world. But in the case of McQueen, it’s particularly bittersweet because he was creating up until the end, while Winehouse really wasn’t. And the Met exhibit continued that bittersweet theme. As much as I loved every piece (and I really, really did), it just reinforced the fact that this is it. There will never be any more. This is the universe of his talent, and it’s far too small of a universe.

While I loved everything, there were a lot of standouts, particularly from his last two seasons, Platos Atlantis, and the half-finished Angels and Demons. My very favorite piece is this dress with gold-painted duck feathers from Angels and Demons. It was so amazing in person.

gold feathers

In fact, he had a lot of truly amazing feather dresses, including this crazy one made of teeny-tiny pheasant feathers.

Pheasant

One of my favorite seasons wasn’t really represented. I love the 2004 Deliverance show which was based on the Sydney Pollack movie “They Shoot Horses Don’t They?” It’s staged as an old fashioned dance marathon full of desperation where the contestants fall off one by one from exhaustion. The choreagraphy by Michael Clark was amazing. And the first and last dress are almost the same except the sequins: on the first dress, they’re new, on the last dress, they’re tarnished and the dress is unravelling like the contestants had both physically and emotionally. It is an amazing show.

Deliverance

Overall, it was an amazing exhibit. A lot of McQueen’s quintessential shows are represented, including Voss, Highland Rape, Widows of Culloden and It’s Only a Game. Two video elements were truly transfixing: Shalom Harlow being sprayed by robots in No. 13.

No. 13

And, of course, the hologram of Kate Moss in ivory silk organza in the Widows of Culledon show. They also had the actual dress and it’s interesting to see how he returned to this material and layered unfinished ethereal quality again and again.

Kate Moss

There is so, so much more I could say. I’m realizing that I only covered the light, flowy clothes when there were some amazing romatic gothic pieces that were just breathtaking as well. The only thing to do is to see the show! I’m hoping it tours and comes to DC because I would definitely be willing to stand in line (1.5 hours this morning and we got there right when the Met opened) and put up with the crush of the crowd all over again.

Tomorrow: Perhaps a Yertle post??