Ah, internet. I’ve come back to my poor, darling, neglected blog.
It’s funny, I thought writing less a week would mean I’d have more time to come up with incredibly awesome ideas to write about, but that has not proven to be the case. Instead, I’m finding that I have totally awesome ideas, but then I go back to playing Warcraft or watching Netflix or whatever and I just let that good idea go back to the idea graveyard or whatever.
However, I have been shamed back into action by Jennie Saia of Tip Of My Tongue, who is as funny, sweet, and refreshing as I am ironic, dramatic and punny. Check her out!
What have I been up to besides not writing and working my ass off? Well, I’ve been focusing on three things, mainly.
1. I went back to my Challenge to order out less and cook more. Yes, I wrote that post in early December and it’s now February. It’s been a bit of a hectic 2014, if you haven’t figured that out yet. I gave myself a ten-day no ordering food test last Tuesday, and so far I’ve done… decently. I have been doing a fair amount of cooking and eating what I’m making. Technically, I did eat takeout on Friday, but Captain Apollo got the food, so it wasn’t really delivery. Right?
2. On a related note, I’ve been working out a lot more as part of my initiative to lose a little weight. It has been going. Not great, not quickly, not even particularly efficiently, but going. It’s been great, but god it’s a timesuck.
3. I made this Bob Ross inspired lampshade. Because, y’know.
Anyways, I have been shamed, and I will make a bigger effort to make this a priority.
I just ran out to Tops to do a bit of shopping and it was very bizarre in there today, internet.
First of all, going to Tops always makes me feel like I’m cheating on Wegmans, because Wegmans is basically a cult. It’s a lot farther from my house than Tops, however, and there’s a gas station right in the parking lot, and on a day where I mostly want to curl up in my jammies and drink spiked hot chocolate all day instead of venturing outside, I feel like Tops is the perfect place to hit up for some low risk snacking.
As I told my dear roommate Varenka, Tops is where you go when you’re hungover and you don’t want to run into anyone you know while you’re sneaking in to buy Cheetos and Dr. Pepper in your unwashed fat pants, whereas people dress to impress to go to Wegmans (not true).
At any rate, the cashier was ringing up my very bizarre basket, which consisted of bean sprouts, frozen pierogies, and goat cheese, and I noticed that the woman behind me had not one, but nine three packs of chocolate pudding, off-brand cheesy puffs, and saline solution.
I’m not one to judge (lemon hummus and raspberry kefir), but doesn’t 27 packs of pudding seem like a lot? I’m a little inexperienced with pudding, but it seems like a lot to me. Is she feeding an entire soccer team? How many people are on a soccer team, again? 14? Or is that football?
I digress. She just had a lot of pudding. Although to be fair, the girl in front of me was only buying ramen packets, but it’s finals week, and you gotta do what you gotta do.
Another weirdness – there was a basket hanging from the number pole thing (you know, that thing with the lighty number doo-dah) labeled “My Pick of the Week” and apparently Sharon, who was my cashier, had picked cough drops for her pick of the week. Was she sick, or was she a cough drop enthusiast? I wanted to ask, but she was a rather glare-y high schooler, so I didn’t want to be attacked by her hormone fueled rage-angsting.
I just have so many questions, internet. Like why they always seem to have containers of cut-up strawberries mixed with blueberries in the produce section. Is there a trend I’m missing out on here?
I’m using a writing prompt today from this randomness I found online: 501 Writing Prompts.
Describe a vegetable that you truly dislike.
(A little backstory – I’m sitting out on Gallifrey’s porch with Varenka and reading from this list of prompts aloud and when I read that one she said “Oh god, do that one and write about your love-hate relationship with asparagus” and I went “Love-hate?” and she went “Hate-hate.”)
I loathe asparagus.
Okay, maybe not loathe. I loathe Hitler and Stalin and people who starve puppies.
I have, at best, a complicated relationship with asparagus.
When I was a small child, I was very gullible (okay, I’m still very gullible, but slightly less so).
My aunt once told me sharks lived in Lake Erie and I didn’t go swimming for a week. My aunt also once told me that if I hung upside down from my closet rod, I’d grow faster. Also that your ears bleed a lot when you get them pierced.
Actually, come to think about it, it was mostly my aunt who preyed upon my naiveté.
However, in this particular story, it was my American Grandfather who told me that asparagus spears were so named because if you ate them at the wrong angle they would stick in your throat and you would die a horrible painful death.
My family, ladies and gentlemen.
Anyways, since then I haven’t touched the stuff. I think partly because my grandfather psychologically scarred me and partly because asparagus is the devil.
Have you checked out my Facebook page yet? I have 5 days to get another 54 likes… yikes! HELP ME!!
I asked Mi Madre what I should write about today and she suggested I post the recipe for an amazing quinoa salad we tried the other night (okay, she made it and I ate it, but let’s not be trivial here). Click this sentence to be taken there and please note that Maman highly suggests adding the entire avocado and serving it on a bed of spinach.
That recipe is crazy good, but the topic of recipes is a little too juicy to get caught up in just one.
It’s amazing how food can bring people together. It’s not a topic that hasn’t been explored before by wiser, more poetic, interesting, pretty, and talented people than me.
Anyways, food is awesome, not just in a “it keeps us alive” kind of way, but in a “remember how damn good great gran’s pie was?” kind of way. Food is, and should be, nostalgic. I could list for you the top 5 best meals I’ve ever eaten and most of them are more because of the experience and the ambience than because of the food. That’s probably fully half of the reason most people are so freakin’ picky about how they want their mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. If it ain’t how Ma does it, it ain’t the same, no matter how good your French Potatoes au Gratin are with the drizzly truffle oil and the snotty demeanor.
It makes me sad that there are people that feel like they can’t hoe down on good chow because they need to look or be a certain way. Yeah, I get it, eating hamburgers everyday is bad for you. Yeah, treating yourself to a five-course meal everyday is silly and expensive. Yeah, being 600 pounds is no bueno. There’s a fine line between condoning eating and condoning being unhealthy and overweight that I’m nudging, yes.
The thing is, most people don’t realize that you can make good, healthy, not bad for you nostalgic meals, and once in a while you can even eat the full fat, drizzled in cheese, deep fried thing and it will all be okay.
My point, if I have one, is that living life by eating carrot sticks and juice means you’re missing out on some good, homecooked meals, and the memories that go along with those meals.
I’m back on an airplane again, internet. We left Puerto Rico at 7 in the morning (ish) and it is currently 9:28, somewhere over the Atlantic. Current soundtrack? Tales of Girls and Boys and Marsupials, by arguably the best band of all time (if not, certainly my favorite band of all time) The Wombats. Current occupation? Not reading the crappy book I picked up at the drugstore the other day. You’d think 9 books would be sufficient for a 12-day vacation. Apparently not. Yet I digress (is still my favorite English idiom).
It is extremely hard to wax romantic about the intense beauty of Puerto Rico on a dingy grey airplane whilst listening to energetic English pop-punk boys sing-scream about female doctors, but I suspect it’ll be worse sitting at home with my two golden retrievers constantly head-butting me in the thigh. So here we go, the grand takeaway, the end-all-be-all, the moral of the story. The list of the absolute must-do’s in Puerto Rico, speaking as someone who has been to the island thrice and knows more of the layout of the place then I know about my home state.
To the engaged couple stumbling upon this page looking for honeymoon tips, the eager traveler, or the businessman with refined tastes and people to impress, welcome to hnw cassandra. Sit down and stay a while, why don’t you.
The Top Expensive Restaurants in San Juan/ Condado.
1. Budatai for the pork belly profiteroles and the harame.
2. Trois Cent Onze for the duck and the dirty martinis.
3. La Pearla for the lobster bisque.
4. Il Bacaro Venezia for the pasta and the awesome service!
The Top Inexpensive Restaurants in San Juan/ Condado.
1. Inaru for the ceviches and the sangria.
3. Ceviche House for the fried snapper.
4. Mojitos, for the mofongo.
The Best Breakfast Spots in San Juan / Condado
1. Café Saint Germaine for the Sunday Brunch.
2. La Bombanera for the mallorcas and the fresh pineapple (but it’s being renovated, so make sure it’s open).
3. Di Zucchero for the coffee.
4. Punk for the acai bowls.
The Best Adventure-y Things to Do
1. A combined trip to El Yunque and the Bio-Bay – or at least the Bio Bay! It’s stunning.
2. El Toro – Unless you have a serious fear of heights. But the views can’t be beat and neither can the adrenaline rush.
3. Go snorkeling. Just do it. You won’t be sorry.
Things That Are Over-Hyped
1. Marmalade – expensive, snobby, and they tend to drench everything in truffle oil. I’ve been twice and it’s just not worth the price tag.
2. The Bacardi Factory Tour – there’s just not a ton to see.
3. Flamenco Beach on Culebra – pretty, but crowded. Go to Playa Sucia near the south- east tip of the mainland or Playa Pieta on Vieques instead.
Things That Are Under-Hyped
1. The taxi services and police are very friendly and generally willing to offer directions or advice. English speaking abilities vary, but the taxi drivers are very knowable and organized.
2. Pinones is a boardwalk that you can wander or bike with beautiful beaches and a bunch of kioskos selling cheap local food. Definitely make sure you have the number of a taxi service with you to call for a pickup, however! They’re a little out of town, but well worth it.
3. Wandering around Old San Juan is breathtaking, especially during the morning or at night when it’s not too hot. Sundays are a little sleepy, but it’s still worth getting there to meander the perimeter along the wall.
4. There are multiple vendors wandering around with carts of ice-cream. It is absolutely worth getting a cup. I had the coconut and it was unbelievably fresh!
If You’re in Town Around
1. The first Sunday of the Month, go to the local market in Condado, next to the La Concha hotel.
2. If you are in San Juan while they are running the Saborea Food Festival, definitely check it out.
3. Ask your concierge when the cruise ships will be docking in Old San Juan – there are generally sales going on in town.
If you’re trying to decide whether or not you should go to one of the little islands off the coast, definitely go for Vieques. There’s a lot to do and see and the beaches are extremely beautiful. Culebra is idyllic, but there’s not a ton of food options and the beaches can be crowded.
Holy Frak, you guys. I HAVE FOUND THE BEST CHICKEN ON THE PLANET.
Technically, I’ve known about this chicken for an entire year, but I had to wait to make sure.
You know when you eat something spectacular, and it lives in your mind as this awesome experience, and it grows on you and preys on your weaknesses and then it’s so built up that when you go have it again, you are thoroughly disappointed because it doesn’t taste how it does in your memories?
This is nothing like that.
This chicken tasted the same as it did a year ago when I had it the first time.
Maybe even better.
This chicken can be found at Via Appia in San Juan, Puerto Rico. No, I’m not giving you an address. Work for it a little, punk.
Via Appia is technically an Italian restaurant. It is vivid and lively and always brim-full of people who do not speak a lick of English.
You will be tempted to order Italian food.
Do not do this.
Get the Chicharrones de Pollo with a cold beer. No, it’s not on the menu. It might be listed on the specials board. It might not. Roll with it. Smooze the waiter a bit. Flirt. Bribe him if you have to. DO NOT GIVE UP ON THIS CHICKEN. IT IS WORTH THE ELBOW GREASE.
When it comes out it will look like this:
I know what you’re thinking. This is not a pretty dish. You want it served to you on a cloud floating gently down from heaven. You want a chicken wearing a delicately woven crown of truffles and pixie dust. You want to be romanced with a chicken that sings you a love ballad as you masticate it with your pointy canines.
Shut your face. You can deal with it, pansy. And no, that’s not a Heineken, you putz. It’s a Medalla. Get with the times.
This chicken could make a Yakuza mob boss cry tears of joy. This chicken could probably end a war. Maybe even a World War. I wish this chicken was around when Hitler was just getting started, is basically what I’m saying here.
Maybe you think I’m overreacting a little bit. Maybe I am. All I’m saying is that I just watched the ocean come and go for like an hour and I’m feeling poetic and beautiful and a little bit romantic and that this chicken was the perfect end to a perfect day.
Via Appia, San Juan, Chicharrones de Pollo.
I’m doing a fruit fast this week, internet, and as it stands right now, I would shank somebody for a slice of pizza.
I said it. Little Miss Yogi can’t do this anymore. I’m freaking out, man. I’M FREAKING OUT.
How long have I been on this horrific fruit fast, you may ask?
I know. Pathetic, right? It amazes me how much of my day revolves around food. It’s sad. I went to go buy bananas yesterday, and past my favorite pizza joint and out of habit I put my blinker on to go in. I don’t know whether to be in my house so I can eat fruit whenever I want or be out of my house so I don’t break into the mac and cheese. I can’t even Pinterest because looking at recipes makes me hungry.
What is up with this, people?? Am I losing it? (Related question- did I ever have it?)
I don’t know why I’m struggling so hard with this. My parents have a smoothie maker and a juicer and a well stocked pantry full of all the delights of every rabbit I’ve ever met. I started off my first day with a broiled grapefruit and strawberries and a big glass of freshly made pineapple-apple-mint juice. It was scrumptious. So why am I sitting here envisioning a toasted everything bagel smothered in dripping Manchego cheese?
Okay. Stop. Breathe.
I never knew how much food ruled me. I eat fairly healthily. I’m a huge fish fan. I voluntarily make and consume a massive amount of brussel sprouts. The amount of sushi my family goes through on a weekly basis would, quite frankly, make a lot of my friends gross out in a major way. That being said, when I crave a bagel, I go get one. If I want Chinese food at three in the morning, I have to have it. I will go out of my way some days to plan my schedule so I can go out and eat somewhere without my mom knowing about it. It’s my secret little act of rebellion (well, not secret anymore).
I feel like I’m being tested and coming up lacking, internet. Last week, I said I was going to make an effort to go to a morning class. I still haven’t, because the mere thought of having to wake up in the morning makes me anxious. The mere thought of denying myself certain foods, even for one day, makes me almost have a panic attack.
I guess I don’t have an explanation for that one yet.
In the mean time, I suppose I’ll go eat yet another banana.
Okay internet. I have no time to write a blog today. So here’s what’s going to happen. I’m giving myself exactly twenty minutes to write, and at the end I’m cutting it off, no matter where I end up. If there’s story left over, I’ll finish it tomorrow. Here goes nothing.
So I cater part-time for a really awesome local catering place here, and two weeks ago they sent me to run a reception for the creative writing program up at the swanky university here in town. If you follow my blog you may remember me mentioning this program before- I was recently rejected from it.
Cut to this Thursday.
This is what my schedule looked like – teach a yoga class, run home, shower, run to work, cater another reception for the program I was just denied from, run back to the yoga studio for a 40 days meeting, run back home, change, run downtown, play a music gig, and then go out of my friend Scarlett O’Hara’s birthday. Oh, also write a blog post at some point. Yeesh.
As anticipated, the day went just about as well as expected. First off, I woke up to house construction drilling its way into my skull. Then we were out of non-decaf coffee Keurig cups. Great start. I ended up gerry-rigging a fillable Keurig thingy while the construction guys yelled at each other across my kitchen.
I had a crazy full noon class at the studio (14 people!!!) WHICH I TOTALLY ROCKED. So that made up for the morning.
Fast forward to the event (ten minutes on the clock, I think I can do this post in under twenty). The event coordinator, recognizing me from the previous event when we discussed my application to and excitement about the program, immediately asked if I was accepted, and I had to tell her I was not. Awkward. I set everything up and wait for the students to come in, whereupon three others I’d had the same conversation with prior, asked me the same thing (still rejected, thanks guys).
And then I get to stand there invisibly in the corner listening to people workshop their current projects and talk about literature and eat canapés and occasionally come over to get refills on their flavored seltzer water. Fab.
By the time people are filling out of there, I’m so flustered that the event coordinator mentions something to me about a reception involving the poet Lynn Emanuel and I refer to her as a dude, which probably confirms for her my rejection from Cornell because how dare I not know every poet ever and their respective genders (is what I’m thinking, because that’s how my mind works).
So then I get to packed everything up and push this ridiculously full cart up a hill through the snow to the van, and things are dropping off the stupid thing and I’m huffing and puffing and wearing a freaking skirt and flats and someone asks if I need help and I almost bite their head off because THE SITUATION WAS UNDER CONTROL (not).
And then I pack up the van and cry and have a little hissy fit for about three minutes before heading back to the
This week I’m using a prompt from Flash Fiction Friday:
“Give us a peek into the life of someone with a form of OCD and tell us how it plays into an event in their life.”
The pre-wrapped sandwiches in the cooler were falling down into the yogurts in the lower level and I had an uncontrollable itch to straighten them as I waited for my food. I took all the ham and cheese sandwiches out and put them on top of a row of lasagna in plastic containers and started stacking the turkey clubs in the far right corner. The problem, I quickly realized, was that the curved bottom of the baguettes they had used didn’t stack neatly onto the equally curved top. However, if stacked in a tight enough formation, they could balance.
“Tim?” the woman behind the counter called, and it took me a few seconds to realize that had been the name I’d given to them. I never gave my real name to food people.
“In a second,” I called, shuffling the peanut butter and jellies to make sure that the diagonal lines of their cuts down the middle were all facing towards the bottom left corner of the cooler. Satisfied with my work, I looked up and realized the counter person was staring at me, the smudged line of her neon blue eye shadow wrinkled with confusion. I slowly took out the hand sanitizer I had in my pocket and dolloped out a double pump.
“Here you go,” she said, trying to regain her cheerful facade as she watched me briskly rub the gel into my skin. Satisfied, I took the plate, careful not to let our fingers touch under the lukewarm recycled fibers, and inspected it. The gelatinous drip of the gravy they’d poured over the thin slices of roast beef had soaked into the porous roll and infected the green beans and carrots, which were horrifying mingled on the far side of the plate. My stomach roiled. I put the plate back down.
“No. No. I’m sorry, I can’t eat this. I explicitly told you that the food groups were not to touch.”
The counter girl looked down at the plate, and back up at me.
“I’m sorry?” she asked. The smudge of her eye shadow extended from the top rim of her eyelid out across the top of her cheek. I felt sick to my stomach.
“You’ll have to redo it.”
“I ain’t redoing it. It’s fine how it is.”
“I’ll have to see a manager then.”
“I am the manager,” she replied coolly.
We stared each other down across the fingerprint smudged metallic surface. She was pretty-ish, in an unkempt, asymmetrical kind of way, like someone who was on the fringes of popularity in high school, just popular enough to think that she could get by on it in real life, but lacking in the easy grace and charm of the really popular kids. She looked like a person who had applied to college several times and failing that, applied to several ambitious jobs she was denied from, and eventually reconciled herself to the idea of working as a manager at the same fucking place she’d been working at since high school, eventually drawing from her title the smarmy self-satisfaction she’d been denied in life by everyone and everything else. In short, she looked like a huge bitch.
I decided to give it one more shot.
“Listen, I know it sounds weird, but I really can’t eat it like this. I’d much prefer if you could please redo it so that the food items are not touching. I am physically repulsed by them touching on the plate. I cannot eat it as it is.”
She laughed. The bitch laughed at me. I re-sanitized my hands in annoyance as she stood there gasping for breath like a dying horse, double chins vibrating, upsetting the whole atmosphere with her staccato chirping.
“Are you serious, buddy, or is this a prank?” she asked.
I pursed my lips.
“Well then,” I said, leaving the plate on the counter. I took a step back.
She looked momentarily dumbstruck, as if the realization that I wasn’t kidding had finally permeated her thick skull into her presumably tiny brain.
“You really aren’t going to take it?”
I shook my head.
“Lunch is on me, sweetheart,” I replied, and casually flicked the pile of sandwiches I’d meticulously arranged so that they fell in a glorious cascade from the top shelf and settled in the dairy section, a chaotic tangle of meat and vegetarian options. Resisting the urge to sanitize my hands, I turned on my heel and walked briskly out, leaving the manager staring fish-faced at my back.
“Can I get a name for that order?”
The counter dude, resigned, scrawled U-jina on my order slip as my buddy Herman turned his snicker into a cough. And thus, a legend is born.
Since that fateful day in 2007 at a Wings Over in my hometown, I have rarely ordered counter food under my real name, and I’ve never looked back.My friends have essentially resigned themselves to this after the initial confusion and claim it as one of my many, many, many weird quirks. However, there is a perfectly logical explanation for this which I’d like to share for those who also happen to have a ridiculously easy to screw up name. For some of you reading this blog right now, I just changed your life. You’re welcome.
As you may have guessed, my first name is Cassandra. I happen to go by Cassie. Which also happens to sound like Kathy. And if you spell it wrong and put something weird down, the person on the other end of the food service line might even read it as Casey.
This doesn’t really sound like that big of a deal, until you realize how ridiculously common those names are, and then you’ve got a Kathy who was called as a Casey reaching for your coffee and it’s just a whole mess.
I mean think about it. Nobody ever screws up Eugena. First of all, no one so far has been brave enough to ask if that’s my real name. Secondly, say it out loud and try to think of how many other names there are that sound like Eugena. Go out. I’ll wait.
Exactly. Eugena is the perfect food ordering pseudonym.
Y’all think I’m crazy now, don’t you?
PS- Some of you are wondering why I don’t just order under Cassandra, aren’t you? It’s because if one more counterperson says, hey did you know that Cassandra was a famous Trojan priestess something or other or, hey, have you seen Wayne’s World, or, hey, Cassandra is actually the last human in a crazy episode of a British show called Doctor Who you’ve probably never hear of, I will break down. I will actually break down sobbing on the floor of the establishment. I never understood the annoyance of my friend Cecelia about that one song (you know the one) until I started telling people my real name. No, I have absolutely never heard of that insanely popular reference, you rapscallion Congratulations on picking the least original conversation starter you could have gone with this side of “how’s the weather?”. Give me my sandwich.