know thy oven

If only…

As some of you know I moved recently. My husband and I had lived at our last place for nearly six years and in those years I held parties and cooked and did what I love – baking. So to say I knew my oven is a misnomer. I was intimate with my oven.

It burned me, it steamed in my eye, it emitted foul odors when I didn’t clean it right and it fed people from across the boroughs. It also ran hot.

Which to those who don’t cook I’m not making a joke. Ovens can run hotter or colder and still say 350 degrees. My mother’s oven for example runs a little cooler. Take for instance a batch of brownies to be cooked at 325 for 25 minutes. My mom’s would take about 28 – 29 minutes, with my old oven, I’d clock it around 22-23.

With the move, I lost my beloved oven.

Now I’m stuck with the  a temperamental oven.

Yesterday’s recipe for the pound cake came out dry. Wanna know why? My oven runs hot. Sometimes.

I followed the recipe, stopping it about 3 minutes before the recipe called for it and the cake was still dry.

Granted, I should have checked a little more frequently if I knew my oven was pms-ing but hey, I didn’t ask for your logic. So just take it and move along.

Move along….

So, I have to break in my oven. With baking. My meat dishes tend to come out well (thank you meat thermometer) and frozen foods (yes, not everything can be magically whipped up into … well, magic) come out fine.

It’s just by baked goods.

I’m telling you this because if you follow the previous recipe, watch your oven. Love your oven. Unless it doesn’t love you back and then spite it by using the microwave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I knew you were coming, I’d’ve baked: i just lost my vanilla bean virginity + recipes and pics

The other day I had a sudden craving for pound cake. Not the greasy processed Entenmann’s variety (which I did have on my table and got stale because I would pass by it and cringe) but the good ol’ fashioned buttery cakey wonderful kind.

So I began to look on the interwebz. I checked my usual suspects; The Pioneer Woman & Smitten Kitchen and couldn’t really find anything so I scoured the web and came up empty. So I tried one more time over at Smitten and wham bam! I found it. The recipe that would satisfy my craving and offer me the opportunity to use vanilla. Until I saw the vanilla beans. Fear froze me as my tastebuds began to tingle. Smitten Kitchen’s recipe called for vanilla beans. *gulp*

I bake .I do. In the fall. But never with something as precious as vanilla beans. Extract? Sure. I try to only buy the best because frankly, I love vanilla but beans? No way. No how.

But the pictures. They looked amazing. You know when you’re dreaming and you dream of something in your hand, like money or candy and then you wake up and you still think you have it in your hands? This is what that picture did to me.  By the way, I do not recommend trying to lick a flatscreen computer monitor.
So, ok. Vanilla beans. I trust Smitten’s recipes and look, she was also popping her own vanilla bean cherry with this recipe. If she could do it the best I could do was try, right?

Right.

So, I marched to the natural food market near my house and perused the shelves and found reasonably priced beans from a brand I trusted:

So I brought it home (As you can see) and today, I started on the recipe which was taken from Smitten Kitchen’s blog.

Vanilla Bean Pound Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound (2 cups) sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, used is fine
1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature — (I left mine out for about an hour and ten minutes and they ended up looking pretty awesome)
1 pound (9 large) eggs
1 pound (4 cups) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a food processor, grind vanilla bean and sugar until vanilla is as finely chopped as it can get. Sift this mixture twice, making sure all larger pieces have been filtered out. Set aside.

2. In another bowl, add the flour and salt together

3. In a large bowl, cream your butter with a bit of the vanilla sugar until you’ve got a good base going.  word of advice, always cut up your butter. It’s easier on your blade or edge beaters and there’s less splash back.  Gradually add the rest of the vanilla sugar, not stopping until it is creamy and smooth.

4. With your KitchenAid whisk the eggs one at a time (or two at time. Don’t worry if your mixture looks curdled, it’s not), beating well after each addition. Gradually sift in the flour and salt mixture, beating constantly. Add the vanilla extract and continue beating until well blended.

5. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or bundt pan. Pour in the batter and ”spank” the bottom of the pan to distribute the batter evenly. Bake until a straw inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 15 minutes, taking care not to overcook. Turn cake out onto a rack and let cool.

As a note: this cake is on the dry side. I love the flavor and the texture.It goes great with sauces, coulis, jams or caramel.  I prefer to use Lemon Curd. If you want a less dry cake, I recommend, leaving it in the oven for -10 minutes. As long as the cake is cooked, meaning you took the stick out and it was dry, then you’re good.

The first thing I did was pretend I was a pastry chef and cut one of the beans in half and scrap out some of the paste from one of them

Looks a bit like Vegemite doesn’t it?

Then I got serious.

Throwing the pods and the 2 cups of sugar in my little food processor (because the big one is missing), I began…processing. I think next time I’ll use my grinder but I’m still happy with the results. I mean, I pretty much wanted to sugar scrub myself to death with the end results.

But wait, there’s more!

Trying something new can often taste like fear

I was on the phone with a friend of mine last night, a truly spectacular feat in and of itself because I hate the phone, and we got to talking about my being unemployed.

He mentioned something that he read a few days ago about doing something new everyday for 30 days. He suggested I do it that way I can sort of shake out the cobwebs and have something to do.

I’m thinking….why not.

My only impediment is my own fears and well…my anxiety and panic disorders. Those are being managed pretty well with medication and I’m sure if I do things that aren’t absolutely bat shit crazy, I should be fine. Right?


Right?

I’ll be honest with you guys. I’ll probably try it for a week and see what happens. I mean this could end in disaster. No one wants that.

Unless it makes for good story.

I’m probably going to start next week…so stay tuned.

What are some things you would want to do if you had the time and the challenge to try something new for 7 days?

unemployment monday – when I grow up….

 

 

 

 

Waking up at three in the afternoon after not being able to sleep until three thirty in the morning is a problem.

Lethargy, despair, and a cup of coffee greet most of the unemployed in the morning –  myself included.

I’ve noticed that the job boards are playing the same songs.  There hasn’t been any real change in the posting  and the so-called additions of jobs are usually in fields that are so specific (with all employers begging for experience) that even if I wanted to apply I wouldn’t get the job.

I don’t have the experience and I’m likely to never get it at the rate we’re going. But that’s OK, I don’t exactly want to be a registered nurse (I don’t think I can stick people with needles).

So, scouring the job boards, applying for jobs that interest me plus any jobs that I think I can get is what compromises most of my days.

I’m not getting any bites.

A friend of mine said that I should set my goal for companies that I want to work for. All the companies I want to work for are either not hiring or I’ve applied to them and they’re simply not hiring me. This friend also hit upon something I should think about, what is it that I want to do.

Well, that’s the problem. I’m not sure. I keep waiting for the answer to hit me and then I just delay it saying ‘well when I grow up’.

I’m already grown up. There is no more waiting.

As a kid I wanted to be everything.

I wanted to a cop. A teacher. An Ad Exec. A dancer. A singer. An Actress. A writer (I’m still struggling with this one). A book store owner. A bartender. A QVC model (please don’t ask). A baker.

I think you get the point.

As I got older, I realized that I just wanted to be successful and I wanted to be that ever elusive thing called happy. I never wanted to be rich but I did want to be comfortable.  I wanted to be interested in my job and I wanted to work in a place that fosters its people.

That’s all I really want. To do something that is interesting and that I’ll be happy in. As long as I can be creative, as long as the environment is warm and easy-going and as long as the work means something then sign me up.

As we all know, how companies hire is a straight up mystery to me. I’m qualified, intelligent and college educated. I have everything they want and yet I have nothing.

So, I might not know what I want to be when I grow up but I do know that I am good at jobs. All I want is a chance.

And also, the location of where my small spoons keep disappearing to.

writer prompt….Ruby Red Poison

This week’s writer’s prompt is brought to you by the emotion: Disgust. Other sponsors include Laura, who provided the emotion and Borderlands 2 for providing the background music!

Enjoy!

The bar was crowded on a Friday night; the band playing covers of old songs while couples conversed over drinks or danced in the small area designated as the dance floor.

Ben had come to this little bar three years ago seeking isolation.

Four years ago in a dusty town in Iraq, he had lost his entire squad to the woman who was currently coming through the wood door.

Three years ago he ended up in another dusty town outside of Lubbock, Texas. Trying to reconcile what he’d lost with what he’d allowed to happen. Slowly, he had started to piece together some sort of life for himself.

He signaled to Gus, the old bartender with a scar from Vietnam and an attitude from Brooklyn. Without a word, Gus poured another few fingers of whisky into a glass that was about as clean as Gus’ language and plopped it down.

It might have been a long time since he’d ever had the need to be on high alert but what was ingrained in him wasn’t going away, not even in three years. It allowed him to always stay one step ahead of everyone.

Everyone but himself.

That’s why he didn’t need to see Gus’ eyebrow quirk and his thin lips turn down to know exactly who was behind him.

“I’ll have what he’s having,” a voice like velvet said behind him.

“Ben?”

Though Gus’ tone said very little, he could read the old man like a book. Gus didn’t like strangers but he wouldn’t turn a paying customer away. It had taken Ben a good two years before Gus spoke more than two sentences to him.

What Gus was asking was if the woman behind him was welcome.

Ben shook his head slightly and with a nod Gus walked down to the other side of the bar.

“That wasn’t very nice.”

He didn’t want to turn around. Didn’t want to pay any attention but if he didn’t, she wouldn’t leave. She still smelled the same, a strange mix of lilacs and jasmine.

It made him want to puke.

Turning, his eyes roamed over her tall lithe body. “You look the same,” he said blandly.

“Still alive.”

“Pity.”

As she moved to the side of him, she smiled her patented ruby red smile. It was meant to entice him. All it did was make his head hurt and his intestines burn.

With fingers as graceful as a pianist, she stroked back a lock of his brown hair, frowning as he moved away.

He felt as if a thousand tiny spiders had crawled over the spot where she had touched him.

Though his heart was beating a million miles a minute and his muscles were tensing with the need to shove her away, he maintained his composure, calling upon years of service training to control his movements.

“What do you want?” he said calmly.

He knew whatever it was, he wouldn’t be doing it. She was prettier than a picture but as dangerous as anthrax. Besides, she was a stone cold killer. Even he had his standards.

“I need your help.” She said softly as she moved closer. Her perfume clogged his nostrils and he slammed back his drink so he didn’t gag.

“You don’t need anyone.”

“I need you.”

He curled his lip and stood. If she had been anyone else, with her silky black hair and come-hither body, he would’ve heard her out.

As it stood, he wouldn’t give her the time of day.

“You need to leave.”

She shook her head, a curtain of her hair falling over her face. “I can’t.”

Ben looked at her closer, certain her act of helplessness was exactly that. An act.

To an innocent bystander, she looked a little lost, a little scared, a bit vulnerable. To him, he caught the glimmer of excitement in her cold brown eyes. She was anything but vulnerable.

That’s when the memory hit him, hard and with no warning.

His men running around the compound, pulling out the innocent and rounding up the bad guys, while she laughed like a maniac. Knives in her hands that moved like ribbons. Blood spattering her cruel but beautiful face, her legs and torso kicking and twisting as she killed those that had bombed a small school. To her, they were nothing. To him, they were bastards but he didn’t need to be the one who killed them.

He called her by the name she had given him, but she didn’t answer. When the bastards were down, she moved on. Speaking in a language he didn’t understand. He understood the movement of the knives, the sound of gunfire, and his men falling to the ground.

She had betrayed them and then she had slaughtered them all. His men and the innocent. Whoever got in her way, she had cut them down.

He couldn’t move as she came closer to him. Her eyes lit with an unholy glee and her ruby lips turned up in a smile that seemed better suited on a pumpkin.

She spoke again in that language he didn’t understand as she placed a bloody hand to his cheek.

“Remember.” was all that he head before the knife entered his lungs.

As the memory receded and the sound of music and laughter again reached his ears, he smiled at her. A smile that made her eyelid twitch.

“I’m leaving. You don’t get to follow me.”

“Ben.” she said his name with a reverence that rang false.

It made his skin itch and he ached for a shower.

“You’ve got three minutes before I call the sheriff and tell them an internationally wanted psychopath is standing in Gus’ Saloon.”

Her smile returned and she saw the relief flash briefly on her face. “Do you really think some Podunk sheriff can take me down?”

Blood rushed to his ears as his stomach began to violently beat against his abdomen. Ben shrugged and signaled to Gus he wanted another one.

“No. I don’t. I do know that if you hurt one hair on anyone’s head and then it’s me you’ve got to face. I reckon I don’t have too much to lose.”

He didn’t wait for her answer or her reaction as he hurried past her to the men’s room, saliva filling his mouth with the unpleasant burn of bile burning his throat.

He didn’t hear the voices asking if he was ok as he emptied his stomach into a toilet that had seen better days. No, all he heard was the sound of crying. And the high pitched laughter of a woman who had gone over the edge.

Borderlands 2…not your Mama’s video games

 

Setting

Five years have passed since the events of Borderlands, when four vault hunters located Eridian Vault and confronted an eldritch abomination known as “The Destroyer”. After defeating and sealing The Destroyer once more, the vault hunters left to parts unknown, but a valuable mineral called “Eridian” start flourishing through Pandora’s crust, bringing the attention of the Hyperion Coporation and its leader Handsome Jack who sets for the planet to secure this new resource. Since then Handsome Jack rules over the inhabitants of Pandora with an iron fist from his massive supply base built in the shape of an “H” on Pandora’s moon. The base is always visible, and can deploy Hyperion forces to any point on Pandora. Meanwhile, rumors of another, bigger vault hidden in Pandora spread across the galaxy, drawing a new group of vault hunters to the planet in search for it.

Plot

The game begins with four vault hunters lured to a trap by Handsome Jack inside a train and left for dead amid a snowy, frozen landscape, only to be rescued by a ClapTrap robot, who guides them to safety. Soon after, the vault hunters have a vision of the Guardian Angel from the first game who instructs them to meet the members of a resistance movement opposing Handsome Jack’s tyranny.”  – Wikipedia

 

I have been waiting for Borderlands 2 – for PS3 –  to come out since I finished the first one. I mean, I didn’t know there would be a sequel but I hoped. Then when I heard the announcement about a year ago I started doing my happy dance and proceeded to countdown the days (not really but it sounds dramatic enough).

The original game was actually one of the first games my husband and myself played together and really enjoyed. I played as Lilith and he, Mordecai (I believe). We spent a lot of our weekends and evenings playing this game. When we beat it, we both did happy dances.

Purchasing Borderlands on it’s release date here in NYC, I had plans to play it with him but of course, real life intervened. We finally cracked it open yesterday and let me tell you, it’s gorgeous. A gorgeous game with awesome voice acting. The only issue is getting used to the map/lvl up/armory/mission screen.  It’s a bit of a pain in the ass and with the split level screens seemingly smaller, it’s hard to view as one whole chunk. There’s a lot of scrolling. We didn’t get very far because it was late and my husband had to go to work this morning so we played for about two hours and beat the first two missions.

So far: The human bad guys seem to be the same so far but the missions are a little harder. Also, there’s a Cold Weather version of the Skaags – the bullymongs. Don’t let them get close my friends. Also, the adult ones, they throw freaking rocks. Bastards.

Anyhoo, I’ll keep you updated on the progress and any very interesting things I come across but if I’m missing for awhile, you’ll find me on my way to Sanctuary.

 

 

unemployment Monday … there’s a hole in my soul

I don’t believe that humans, as a species, are lazy. We wouldn’t have come this far if we were totally and completely apathetic, in fact we probably would’ve evolved into some sort of lichen if we were really all that lazy.

As for individuals? Well, yeah. I believe individuals can be anything they want to be but that they don’t necessarily reflect on the species as a whole.  However, that’s a rant for another day.

This unemployment Monday I got to thinking about the value of work. I’ve been feeling pretty damn low lately. I’ve been wracking my brains to try to pinpoint the actual reason why (you would think it would be obvious to me but there are other things going on in my life that I can never be so sure). I’ve been lethargic and pinwheeling between moments of brilliant creative thinking and hopelessness. In short, I guess I’m a little blue. The reason why, the big bright neon reason why, is simply that I am not working; I am not receiving validation as a person in society.

Work is a necessity. Office work, while suffocating and soul sucking at times, is just as important as farming used to be two hundred years ago. We are all cogs in a machine but we are all rewarded cogs. I’m not just talking about the monetary tag attached to work but the actual feeling of satisfaction after completing a job well done and contributing to the overall bottom line.

I do not get the same sense of accomplishment when I do my laundry, it’s close, but it’s not the same.

Humans like to feel like they have done something; that they have made their mark in the world somehow.

It’s an adrenaline rush but it’s not the same as finishing a project that took you two weeks and stressed you out so badly that you started to lose sleep and snap at those close to you.

There are others out there that will argue with me and say that keeping house and maintaining it instills the same feeling.

You wouldn’t be arguing. I agree. There’s a sense of accomplishment but to me, read “to me”, it’s not the same.  It’s arbitrary, I suppose, but society dictates that every member of the society that is over a certain age should be working to further the society.

Sitting at home searching for positions while I’m waiting for the coffee to drip doesn’t do much to fill the hole for me. Frankly, I’m not really furthering anything other than my electric and shopping bills.

When an unemployed person goes out and meets people that she/he doesn’t really know, it begins to wear on them that they have to keep answering the question of “what do you do” with a self-conscious smile, a bitter chuckle and a “I’m unemployed”.

It begins to make me feel like I’m less of a person.

I don’t particularly have a career but I’m good at jobs.  I hate waking up and I might curse having to work within confines but it makes me feel like a productive member of society.

Then I feel sad as if I haven’t contributed anything to anyone.

That feeling you get at work is an intangible feeling. Some will it accomplishment or ambition; I, frankly, don’t know what to call it but I do know that I’m missing it.

Hell, there’s only so many times you can sit on your couch eating Havarti and Pepperoni and watching a very bad Hallmark Channel film.

early writer friday: Bullet with his name on it

This is a free thought writing prompt that I wrote about a year ago. I don’t know what prompted me or what I was reading at the time to think of such a story of revenge, but I liked it. So I kept it. With a few edits, I present to you my untitled vignette of loss and revenge.

 

The Big Combo trailer image

 

When I was thirteen years old, I witnessed my first murder.

Susy had been eighteen and gorgeous. Or at least that’s what I thought of my older sister. Blonde, clear blue eyes, flawless skin that would only break out in pimples during her time of the month and curves that made her boyfriend Scott smile like an idiot.

Despite being pretty and well-liked, Susy was nice. To everyone. Including the weird smelly kid down the block, to my Mom’s bastard of a boyfriend and to the three legged cat that camped out on under our front porch with a predilection to scratch and spit.

Most importantly she was nice to me.

I don’t have any illusions about what a little shit I had been at thirteen; angry most of the time, obnoxiously sarcastic all of the time and a thief some of the time, I was not a poster child for all that was good and sweet in adolescents. In fact, I had been threatened with boot camp, Catholic school and juvie enough times that a normal kid would’ve known to quit while she was ahead.

I wasn’t a normal kid. Neither was my situation.

But, if I knew then what I knew now…well, I would’ve changed. I wouldn’t have pushed buttons, wouldn’t have pushed people away and definitely wouldn’t have opened the door to the man who killed my only ally.

In hindsight, through therapy mostly, I realized that the weeks leading up to Susy’s murder she had become withdrawn. She was constantly sick and moody, the nice Susy, the cheerleader and valedictorian had been replaced by crazy Susy. The Susy that cried herself to sleep at night, who weeped while brushing my hair and would suddenly become quiet when I entered a room.

To say that Susy was my sister would be to cheapen our relationship. Yes, she was my biological half-sister; the product of my father’s first marriage.  Our Dad had died when I was three and my mother, our father’s second wife, had taken in Susy and for the first few years had raised us like the normal kids we should’ve been.

It was only when I was nine did shit hit the fan.

Susy was like my mother. She took me to school, helped with my homework, wiped away my tears, fought for me and fed me. She was the only person in the world I didn’t want to disappoint.

She was the only person who loved me.

I let her down when I opened that door.

Jerry Thomas Willis was six foot three, blonde and dark eyed. He was two hundred and eighty pounds of muscle and had an attitude that was fueled by booze and vitriol. He loved two things, Jim Beam and my mother Janet Berk. The two J.B’s in his life, he would joke as he smacked my mother’s ass.

Janet hadn’t always been Jerry’s whore. No, she had been a paralegal who had graduated near the top of her class and held two degrees. When my Dad had been alive she had affectionate, if slightly distracted. With her long black hair and grey eyes, my mother had captivated my father with a look. Or at least that’s how she told it. I think it might have been the fact she was pregnant with me.

As Jerry’s girlfriend, Janet went from an intelligent and beautiful woman to a weak willed shell.

The smacks on the ass had turned into smacks across the face which then migrated to beatings.

They evolved into a familial thing.

I was twelve when Jerry broke my arm.

He gave me a few more bruises and scrapes before my mother finally kicked him out and taught both Susy and I about gun safety.

You can never forget the smell of gun powder and freedom.

Susy had always remained unscathed. Scott, though only five nine, had squared off with Jerry a few times and Jerry, though a drunk, was not stupid enough to go after Susy.

Except for that Friday night in October.

Jerry, stumbling drunk and pissed off beyond measure had come to our back door. Janet had been at an AA meeting, Susy was babysitting and Scott was at school.

Pissed that I needed a babysitter, pissed that I was stuck in a backward town in a decrepit ranch house with only one tv and no cable, pissed that I was thirteen and alive; I opened the back door and in came Jerry.

For years I beat myself up over that; He hadn’t needed to even knock on the door, I just let him in. It took many years of therapy to realize that no, I hadn’t let him in, he had pushed me aside so hard that I had bounced off of the wall and onto my face. I still had the bump in my nose to prove its brokenness.

Whatever happened after that will always remain a blur. I remember hearing shouting and a loud crash. Then the sound of flesh against bone and a thud, and then the screaming. That sound still wakes me up at night. It’s the sound of pure terror.

To this day, I can’t tell if it was her or me that was making such an awful sound.

There had been pleading and begging and shouts for me to run, to get away.

I remember that the song playing on the radio was “Tainted Love”.

My memories play like a dream when I think about how the order of events happened. The radio blaring, the sound of the radiator kicking in and Susy crying and pleading that he leave her baby alone.

My thirteen year old self thought she had meant me.

I just know that before the absolute quiet hit, I had reached into the freezer where my mother kept my Dad’s .38 special.

If I think about it, I must have slipped the safety, stood behind him and pulled the trigger but if you put the same gun to my head, I wouldn’t be able to swear to that. All I know is that the screaming had stopped and the radiator stopped kicking and I had squeezed the trigger, the recoil knocking me backwards, smacking my head against a protruding brick from the fireplace we hadn’t used in five years.

Darkness, sweet blissful darkness came after that.

When I came to in a hospital, a smiling nurse at my side and a sobbing Scott on the other side, I pretended to be asleep. Something about the tension in the room made me wary about waking too soon. It was only when I heard the third voice near the foot of my bed, Detective George Marster from the Greene Sheriff’s department, that my sister, my beloved sweet sister who I had called a bitch when she hadn’t changed the radio, was dead.

I was also told that Jerry Thomas Willis had survived the gunshot wound to his chest.

It was days later, when I was being settled into Scott’s well used Chevy that he told me that Susy had been pregnant. They had planned on getting married and taking me with them to Boston.  He loved me like a little sister, he had said with his voice tripping on unshed sobs, and he was still moving to Boston and I was more than welcome to come with him.

Susy would’ve been proud of me, he had said as tears finally fell from his eyes. He had aged at least ten years in the past few days and I knew that I didn’t look like a young kid anymore.

My Mom didn’t fight me when I packed up my stuff.

Scott’s the only family I have and we’re both still haunted.  We rattle around the house and make all of the appropriate noises that living people do. Every once in awhile we even have fun.

But then one or both of us gets quiet.

I’m not sure what he’s thinking but I know what is bouncing through my head. I know what I can never tell him.

I know where Jerry Thomas Willis is. I know his schedule, his patterns, his disgusting habits and the fact that I have to close this particular end.

Not have to. Need to. Taking a life for a life, that’s the only thing that will satisfy this living breathing blackness that has taken residence in my chest.

I need to do it for both of us.

Which leads me to now.

I am 30 years-old and I will perpetrate my first murder.

remember, remember the 11th of september

“I feel a little stronger than I did before as an American. As a New Yorker, I’m still fucking pissed off. I’m very proud to be a New Yorker. These people that live in Manhattan are as tough as they come.” – John Romita Jr.

Everyone has a story to tell about 9/11. This is mine.

Eleven years ago I was a freshman in college. I had started classes about two weeks before September 11th and I remember it being a Tuesday for because I had an early morning math lecture class that I hated. I suck at math. Some call it a math phobia; I call it just pure unadulterated hatred.

I had left the class pretty quickly and was walking back to my dorm room and I noticed that everything was sort of quiet. It was a Tuesday and there were classes going on but there were no kids. I filed that away as weird but I’ll be honest, I was tired. Exhausted really because the math class was at 8:30am and I am not a morning person. I also didn’t drink coffee back then so I was bleary eyed and my mind was full of visions of going back to sleep.

One kid was running back to their dorm but everything was still quiet. Again, didn’t think much of it but a feeling started in the pit of my stomach that I chalked up to my digestive system not knowing what time it was.

I get back to my dorm, I’m by myself, I can’t find my roommate (which in hindsight was a good thing) and someone tells me to put on the television. That the world trade center had been attacked. I wish I could tell you who told me. I don’t know if it was a phone call or if I heard it from someone out in the hall but all I thought was ‘yeah right’. I put on the radio and there was no music. Only reports of an attack in New York City.

I still thought it was some weird War of the Worlds thing. My mind just wasn’t capable of wrapping the thought of someone daring to attack my home around itself.  So I put on NBC and I was in just in time to see the second plane hurl itself into the second tower.

Confusion. Anger. Shock.

Then sadness.

I had been there a couple of weeks ago with my Uncle. He worked on Wall Street. We had taken the train from Newark and walked through the terminal where the shops and food stands were; where millions of people passed through every day.

My Mom had worked in 7 World during the first attack back in the 90’s.

I knew my Mom was ok. She was working in Queens at that point and my little sisters were in Queens and oh my god, someone just blew up the world trade center.

I don’t think I realized that tears were falling until the first sob. Until my body shook with rage and sadness at the realization that people were dead.

What looked like papers falling from the towers turned out to be human beings trying to flee a death by inferno.

Streets that I only knew in passing were covered in ash and god knows what else and oh my god, someone just attacked us.

I think I called my Mom immediately after, my eyes glued to the television soaking up every piece of information and image. My brain still didn’t believe it, there was just no way this could’ve happened. This was just a sick joke and I’d wake up and all those people would be alive and the WTC would still be standing there and when I grew up I could go shopping in the terminal.

I wanted to go back. Hop on a bus and help with the cleanup and taking care of the survivors.  Two hours or so after staring at the TV, I needed a plan of action. I am by nature a fixer. I wanted to help fix this, this horrible wound on my home. I wanted to help patch it up and heal it. I wanted to heal.

My Mom wouldn’t let me. She wanted me safe. She didn’t want to worry about me getting hurt of if there was a second attack; she wanted me to stay where I was. All I wanted to do was go back home and help those EMTs, Firefighters, Cops and Doctor’s that were risking their lives downtown. I mean, what I knew about medicine could fit a thimble but I wanted to help so bad it hurt.

My brain, which doesn’t work well in the morning on the best of days, took that info and told my mouth to stop asking. It didn’t stop me from wanting to go but it stopped me from asking.

But if I couldn’t be there who would be able to stop my family from getting hurt.

My sisters were little. I wanted to protect them. I wanted my parents to take the kids and get the hell out of the city. Go to PA where my Aunt was and just stay there until this was over.

We didn’t know if there was going to be another attack and if there was one when it would be. The city and its residents were paralyzed in a state of not knowing. I was and I was nearly 4 hours away.

I was devastated.  That’s the best emotion that I can come up with. I didn’t shut the TV off for three days. I barely slept.

Every morning that I woke up, I had that thought of oh, it’s such a nice day before reality came barreling toward me. No. It’s not a nice day. The city isn’t safe and thousands of people are dead.

We never stood a chance.

We didn’t know.

We weren’t prepared.

I was depressed for quite a long while.

I was angry. Very angry. I wanted those that did this dead. I never wanted a war. Just to kill those that had done this. I was hurt but I wasn’t blinded enough to think that a war, where other innocent would die, was good.

I just wanted the bastards that orchestrated this to pay.

I was grieving. Much like everyone else, I was grieving the destruction of my home, the senselessness of the violence and the loss of safety.

I was grieving for those that had lost loved ones.

I was grieving for those that had given their lives to save others.

I was grieving for innocence lost.

Everyone remembers where they were on September 11,2001.

We should never forget.

Never forget the determination and sacrifices of the NYPD, NYFD, EMTs and other safety workers who were lost to us.

Never forget the innocent lives that were snuffed out by a senseless act of violence.

Never forget the holes that never can be filled for those that have lost someone dear to them.

Never forget that as New Yorkers we can overcome anything. That we are stronger together than we are apart. That we will Never Forget this tragedy that occurred 11 years ago but we will move on from this.

Together.

i’m back, baby!

I was out of commission for a few days due to a head cold that hovered dangerously close to bronchitis.

However, with the use of magic pills and brews I am back, baby!

Seriously though, if I drank any more tea England would have started to colonize me.

So, what did I miss while I was away? Anything exciting happen over Labor Day weekend? Any recipes or great foods eaten? Major life changes?

I spent a lot of time sleeping and thinking. There were a lot of things on my mind between hazy drug-induced sleepy times but the one that I wanted to bounce back with is pet peeves.

I imagine that some of them aren’t pet peeves so much as things that just annoy the crap out of me but that aren’t quite irrational hatred (which we’ll get into that another time).

1. Internet Spelling Errors – such as; ” OMG, did u c ….” I had to stop there because I was annoying myself. OK, I get that short hand is expedient when texting or chatting but when you’re sending an email or replying to a post please for the love of all that is sacred, please please try to spell like a normal human being. I know that the NYC school systems aren’t that great, but surely words such as You, See, Great, Their v There v They’re, Where, Were were covered in school at some point. If not in school then in a magazine or book or something. Listen, I’m not the grammar police, but it irks me to no end when a simple sentence can’t be read because there are extra characters or missing letters.  There is a spell check, use it!

2. Street Fighting with weapons – I think I may actually be an 88-year-old man. Which is scary because that means I’m older than my grandpa.  I sort of want to sit back and reminiscence about the good old days when “men were men and fought with honor and fists”.  I’m actually shaking my head at that sentence.

Without going into a history of fighting or why people feel the need for weapons when they are fighting an ordinary person (this is not Roadhouse people! I can understand wanting to use a pool cue on someone as awesome as Dalton*. I mean, that might be the only way to survive), I would like to simply state that is a pet peeve of mine when people start a fist fight and the next thing you know they’ve got a knife or a gun.

No! Bad! *uses spray bottle* Bad! Listen, if you’re gonna start a fight with fists. End it with fists. This isn’t the Wild West, no need to bring a S&W into this. This also isn’t West Side Story (although, any fight that begins with choreographed dancing is OK in my book) and there’s no need for switch blades.

Just, listen, if you’re dumb enough to start a fight then just use what you were born with. Hands, Fists, Teeth, Knuckles and Nails.  Don’t bring a weapon. It’s not fair and it’s often fatal. You can survive a punch to the face. You can’t survive a gunshot to the head.
3. Games that on X-Box but not PS3 – Diablo III, Fable, the first Mass Effect.

 

 

* I will leave you with a picture of Dalton. For all those youngun’s who have no idea what Road House is.

See, you wouldn’t want to fight him. Not without Mark Dacascos.