Me Auditioning to Write Restaurant Reviews for the New Yorker

“It takes a bold restaurateur to set up shop in the No-Man’s Land of [insert absurd neighborhood name associated either with Wall St. or poor people], but [ludicrously stupid restaurant name] just might succeed where so many other farm-to-table efforts have failed”

“The fetal duck braised in its own mother’s tears was insouciant, but a refreshing fricassee of locally-sourced stinging nettle and the claws of Hudson otters brought an invigorating, earthy crunch”

“The house cocktail, which incorporates hand-strained gin into a spicy slosh of ram’s blood and pulverized chickpeas imported from war-torn Syria, left one patron flummoxed and longing for an un-hip gin-and-tonic”

“In the criss-crossing alleyways of [impoverished developing nation devastated by the structural adjustments imposed by American banks], the [quaint street food] reigns supreme. At [restaurant named after its owner's dog], [celebrity chef] combines its native charms–grease, salt, and red meat–with the sensibility of the Wall Street [polite synonym for douchebags] who flock to this out-of-the-way gem during happy hour. The results–[quaint street food] piled with perfectly-roasted flecks of crispy kale, stuffed with hand-killed shredded ox throat, and finished with a light dusting of the ash from burned hundred-dollar bills–are the perfect guilty pleasure, especially when paired with the in-house mixologist’s signature concoctions (the best is the Lazy Ol’ Swayback Mule, based on his fond childhood memory of the ancient African-American man who polished his father’s shoes every morning in the family’s Hamptons villa)”

“Although the menu is mostly vegetarian, the chef wisely includes a few items that normal people with legitimate tastes might actually want to eat, such as gigantic, drippy cheeseburgers garnished with bacon, and served with a side of fries drizzled with melted duck fat. Who cares about global warming (or your arteries) when the meat is done this well? Open weekdays, until 2 a.m.”

“The attempt at cheekiness often foundered. The baked mac-and-cheese–an ironic nod to middle-America–was marred by the inexplicable inclusion of chèvre, while the ‘Mom N’Pop escarole salad with house-made ranch dressing’ was as limply bland as a Midwestern accent and as tedious as a middle class person’s anecdote about attending a state university”

“Both Chelsea Clinton and the comedian Dane Cook stood at the bar, vainly trying to get the attention of a waiter, while at a nearby table Mark Zuckerberg, Beyoncé, Jonathan Franzen, half of the band Mumford and Sons, the ghost of JP Morgan, and the performance artist Maria Abramovic were discussing entrepreneurship.”

“The highlight of the menu is the suckling pig, hand-raised to love and trust its owner before having its throat slit and its body held kicking and struggling over a hand-thrown vintage-modern clay blooding toureen made by the chef’s wife, a sculptor whose work has been commissioned by Pottery Barn and the Met. Roasted over exquisitely-cured mesquite branches from the owner’s Texas ranch, the pig, who had been shown nothing but gentle kindness until the moment its owner grabbed it by the hind legs and hung it up on a hook while it screamed in terror, is served whole, on a bed of lightly-braised endangered songbirds (the owner has a permit), its skull daintily split open so that the whole table can share its brains. As one patron was heard to remark, while sipping her third sloe-gin fizz, ‘Viva la Revolución!’”

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You Seem Fun

The other night my old man asked me if I could think of any ways I am tangibly different because of being with him. I thought of SO many! And all of them basically boil down to “not acting like a child anymore.” Instead of throwing garbage all over the car, I bring the garbage inside and put it in the trash. Instead of not putting more toilet paper on the roll when it’s empty, I do. Instead of not paying bills for months until collectors call and I cry on the phone, I pay them (real talk: or I put them on his desk and he pays them, but still, they get paid). Instead of incessantly getting parking tickets ALL OF THE TIME, and NEVER paying them, and also getting my car towed a shocking number of times simply due to being parked illegally, I don’t do those things. I got my first parking ticket in like 9 years the other day and it was an honest mistake this time (sort of) although it did still feel like a regression.

In EVERY one of these instances, it’s not actually that I have fully changed on the matter. I still have within me the pure and real desire to throw garbage around in the car, not pay bills, park like a spaz*, etc. It’s just that every time I am about to do one of these things, I quite literally hear my husband’s voice in my ear saying “just put it in the garbage/just read the parking sign/etc.” and I sigh and think okay, okay, I will behave like an adult human.

He has also been trying to get me to stop rushing, which is a tougher project. Whenever I fuck up mightily he asks me if I was rushing and I always have to sheepishly say that I was. Remember my horrifying arm wound? That was from rushing, as he pointed out. That was only the worst of my many rushing-related mishaps. Remember those children’s books about Mrs. Higgeldy-Piggeldy? She was a supernatural Poppins-esque figure who would appear in the life of a child who had a singular flaw–lying, being lazy, etc.–and help them fix the flaw by enchanting them. There was one about a girl who rushed, and was always falling down stairs and stuff. Mrs. Higgeldy-Piggeldy enchanted her so that she could only move in slow motion. At first it stressed her out but then she came to like how calm and deliberate it made her do everything. When the enchantment wore off she was a better, slower person. That’s what I need. Maybe i just need to stop drinking coffee. Ha! I would rather get another arm wound

I hope you enjoy revisiting the arm wound story. I just re-read it and there are lots of tidbits I’d forgotten, like Steve getting pulled over for being on the phone but then the cop letting him off with a warning because the call was about my arm emergency. Also I hadn’t looked at the pictures in a long time and was LITERALLY SHOCKED by them, I can’t believe that happened to my li’l ol’ arm. And now look, the arm is fine and the scar is barely noticeable! Time TRULY DOES heal all wounds jk

Anyway my point is that due to my husband’s gentle guidance I have tried to become a better grownup in all these small but real ways, and I’m really glad about it, as it has saved me money and hardship. However, when stated so baldly it also makes me feel bad, for being such a dork, and for my husband basically having to be my mom. But then I felt worse because we tried to think of tangible ways that I have changed HIM, and we couldn’t! The only thing he could think of was that I had “made [him] a man,” which doesn’t even mean anything. I mean, he has become a good cook and he vacuums all the time and he goes to bed early now but those are maybe things he would’ve done on his own. I also hector him to stand up straighter and drink more water. I guess I need to hector him about more helpful things.

Oh, I made him go vegetarian and stop smoking…that’s something I guess (boring)

Anyway it’s been 12 years, maybe after another 12 years I will be able to fly

Oh wait it’s been 13 years. Fuck!

*Can we bring ‘spaz’ back? I know it is technically offensive but I feel like its offensiveness is lost to the sands of time, like ‘strumpet’ or even ‘idiot,’ which used to specifically refer to a mentally disabled person and now is just a great word all can enjoy. Like it’s short for “spastic,” which is an ancient word for….who? I don’t even know. As slang, ‘spaz’ has a resonance that I feel is unequalled by any other word. I love how it connotes fucking up but with a tinge of affection, like someone is gently daffy in a crowd-pleasing way. In my fantasy version of how I believe others see me, all of my horrid foibles are actually just me spazzing out and everyone kind of gets a kick out of it, even though I know this isn’t true (see above re: husband hectoring me like a child). If my use of this word has upset you please do let me know and I will consider your argument against it. As you know I am not a huge fan of how our entire public discourse about social inequality has boiled down to us fighting about what words aren’t ok to use, but nonetheless, if you make a strong case I will cease my efforts to bring back this once-great pejorative.

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Television, Mosquitos, and the Shape of Skulls

I very much enjoyed that brutally cynical Mad Men finale! BRUTAL!!!!! Good job to all concerned. Especially Brett Gelman, who was perfectly cast for some very subtle but real mood-lightening. Also the guy who gave the amazing monologue about nobody choosing him in the refrigerator; who the heck is that guy??? He was incredible! How’d he get cast for this intensely pivotal monologue in the finale of one of the greatest TV shows of our era?? Give that guy a spinoff! “You’ve had Mad Men, now try….Sad Men”

Last night I had cramps and knew I should sleep in my old man’s office because of all the tossing, turning, sweating, and assorted accoutrements that go along with trying to sleep through the night in such a state. I got the couch all ready, with my hot water bottle and the sleeping bag and my book of Sylvia Townshend Warner’s letters. Settling in to try to relax, suddenly I heard the unmistakable whine of a mosquito. A mosquito! In MY sleeping chamber; how dare you!

What followed was 45 minutes of hellish nightmare. Well maybe not that bad, but Lord it wasn’t good. I stood in the center of the room, every nerve tingling in a high-alert state. I would hear the horrible whine, but my darting eyes could see nary a mosquito! Where was he, my ancient enemy? Finally I would glimpse him idiotically bobbing along the ceiling or darting behind the desk. I would sneak up on where he lay resting against the wall, but the slaps of my hands and, eventually, my husband’s rolled-up journal (sorry honey) were ineffectual against his superior bug reflexes. At one point I heard him whining so close to me, but could not see him. I stood quivering for many long moments, then felt a sting. Looking down, he was DRINKING BLOOD FROM MY VERY WRIST, but my slap just missed him. After awhile I realized there were not one but at least FOUR mosquitos in the room. Slap! I got one on the ceiling, and two more in the corner. Finally I got the big one, with a resounding SLAP against the door. Suddenly the door was flung open and my husband, crazy-eyed and wild-haired, yelled “What the FUCK is going on?” I said that after all I needed to sleep in the bedroom, because only the Lord knew how many more mosquitoes were in here. I collected my accoutrements, my sloshing hot water bottle, and went into the bedroom, and proceeded to have one of the best nights of sleep I have had in weeks. In conclusion: Every time God closes a door he opens a window!

Today it is raining and soft and lovely outside and I am in my office with the door closed (will the joy of this never get old? I hope not) and the dog is snoozing next to me with his face buried under my arm. In 8 days I have to drive to Ottawa by myself and am not looking forward to it. I assume I will get lost at least four times and arrive late and bedraggled to my destination.

It is still summer vacation. Ha! It has barely begun! ‘Tis still mid-May my friends, and me with no obligations until August! No obligations save writing hundreds of pages of shit and developing three classes. But who could care for such talk when shitty cutoff shorts may be worn all the day long and coffee drunk over clinking ice in the pleasure and glory of one’s own home!

We are watching the BBC Wolf Hall. I am always surprised by what my husband will suddenly really like. On the one hand he is not interested in narrative at all, and prefers movies that primarily consist of shifting blobs of color accompanied by a soundtrack of abstract bleeps and bloops, but then on the other hand sometimes you’ll randomly sit him down in front of the BBC Pride and Prejudice and he will go APESHIT and demand to watch the whole thing in one sitting and then start yelling about how much he loves Mr. Darcy. So anyway, to my surprise, he is very into Wolf Hall. He is following the plot remarkably well, given that he knows nothing about the time period, hasn’t read the books, and every character is named Thomas.

I like it too, except I wish people would stop making Henry into such a babe. Reformation-era Henry was no babe, but rather a middle-aged, sweaty-faced man with gout. Why do we want this guy who chopped off so many women’s heads to be dashing? It’s creepy. On the other hand, it is so fun to see the guy from League of Gentlemen bringing his weird creepy comic sensibility to the Stephen Gardiner role. And the guy who plays Thomas Cranmer reminds me of Jason Mantzoukas which also seems like it’d be a great piece of casting; I wonder if Mantzoukas can pull off a reliably-posh English accent? My guess is no. Would be so cool to have a character in Wolf Hall just randomly speaking American English. “What is this…..’Ameri–ca’?” Yes I know they already had America at this point, I am just joking, God.

Also please notice the historical accuracy of Wolf Hall, specifically how THEY DON’T EAT WITH FORKS. The history of the fork is amazing; did you know that some scholars think we have a slight overbite due to forks changing the alignment of our jaws? In such a short time period! Apparently you can trace it in the bone record; pre-fork, European skulls all have the slight underbite of carnivores. You can see it in paintings too! And also apparently the same skull change happens in Japan 1,000 years earlier, because of chopsticks. Unreal! Anyway yeah, even at the table of the King of England everyone’s shoveling fish and sauce into their mouth with their right hands and bread. It truly was a time in which I would have thrived. Until dying of plague at age 6.

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