Friday, September 30, 2011

Indian Summer

Tourists and dads to mortified teenage daughters must be loving this seasonal transition phase just for those magical three words: socks and sandals. You definitely can't commit this particular sin in rainy weather, so at the first sign of sunshine I busted my very own pair and found a nearby forest (which, admittedly, is where this fashion staple should really stay).  I wore this number out downtown a few days ago and, having passed a couple of teenage boys, heard: "Did you get a load of that? She socked and sandalled!" You know it's real when it's a verb. The dress is a vintage I picked up a few years ago which, for some reason, I haven't worn until this summer.  At any rate, I'm loving how warm the weather still is, providing ample opportunities for resurrecting the dead - garment-wise, that is..

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Quarter of a Century

I always thought that turning 25 meant finally being held accountable for my decisions.  I thought I would float into myself, into the real world, and that somehow the sum of my years would be reflected in my sense of purpose.  I set one specific goal to reach before my birthday, and despite reaching it, my purpose still somehow stood me up like a bad blind date.  Despite so many things changing - friends leaving, arriving, becoming, among many others - some things luckily haven't changed at all. Things like..

Me burning a waffle, staining a dress, and forgetting to wear deodorant all on the morning of my birthday...

My turning twelve every year by presenting my guests with loot bags...

My family being incredibly sweet for the twenty-fifth consecutive year, finding my favorite cake and most beautiful roses...

My mom's gifts summarizing me in the funniest (and best) way...

And our unbridled desire to recreate the Titanic scene immediately upon stepping onto my friend's yacht...(well, our desire to be idiots, I guess, generally speaking)

When I was little, Tallinn was a magical place full of whimsical traditions, and birthdays were no exception.   My mom would hide chocolates in my shoes, little toys in my pockets, and trinkets under my pillow.  The element of surprise was synonymous with magic, and I remember my heart racing all day, never knowing what I’d find next.  Though my wonderful family still enforces this even now (my mom snuck into my apartment to decorate it while I was out), and I in turn carry the tradition forward by torturing my loved ones,  I think I’ve found a greater magic in the people that surround me.

My absolute favorite part about having birthday parties is seeing everyone fit together to form a hilarious mosaic.  Each of my friends belongs to her very own category of people, and together, they make the cutest, most incongruous sight.  One is talking about the marathon she just ran while another is squeezing her toes inside her uncomfortable new Miu Mius, while another folds origami frogs from wrapping paper, while another complains about the Master’s thesis she just defended. Regardless, not a moment goes by when they’re not laughing at something, and then the best part of the night happens: everyone wants to get together again. 

I don't know what sicko photographer asked everyone to show what they got in their loot bags but I only became aware of this shot the next day...almost as cheesy as women in their mid-twenties open loot bags, actually...

 This year I received birthday wishes from the unlikeliest of people: people across the ocean, people whom I haven’t spoken to in almost a decade and people that I was sure had forgotten me.  The fact that a near-stranger took a moment from their life to extend into mine, that someone remembered, that someone took the time to write something beyond the two words that would’ve easily sufficed…it’s absolutely touching.  It’s also overwhelming to be thought of by people I never see – maybe I never quite grasped the idea of object permanence (I was probably learning about magic when y’all were covering that chapter.)  We spend so much time trying to look indestructible and avoiding looking naïve- we don’t tell someone we like them, for example, or show that we care because caring means being vulnerable, and vulnerability means you’re a wuss. Birthdays, I find, part those clouds for just a moment and suddenly we’re allowed to tell a stranger we love them, if only through a series of zeros and ones sent from one screen to another. 

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in these twenty five years is that love is like the inside of a kaleidoscope, constantly reassembling into new and exciting shapes, exploding from so many different sources – a cat, a man, a girl, a cupcake – it’s there if you let it be. In that way, maybe it’s not about finding purpose, but about decorating your pursuit of it. And if it took me twenty-five years to figure that out, well that’s a quarter of a century well spent. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Market

Through the years, the annual flea market has become a fall staple for me, and amazingly enough, this year it fell on a warm, sunny day.  Not only are the finds really cool (the Gianfranco Ferré sunglasses that I like to intimidate passers-by with were acquired at said venue for less than the price of an overpriced coffee), but everything is just so weird and aside from a few Nintendo cartridges, nothing is under 100 years old. Actually wait, old? I think I still have some sandpaper lying around from those days.  Anyway, just when I couldn’t be any more excited about our adventure, I remembered the farmer’s market, which happened to be in full swing. And the farmer’s market meant one thing: farmers.  Two things, if you include the macarons I purchased and devoured on the spot, much to the embarrassment of my date.  So, farmer’s market + flea market = one excellent Sunday afternoon.  The following is a summation of the best day (so far!) of this wonderful-and now official-autumn. Note the ten dollar whore, by the way.


I also found two amazing vintage purses and thanks to my date's haggling skills, they followed me home.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Spidey Senses

The other day I ate a spider. Or perhaps it was a worm, or a centipede, or maybe even a daddy long-legs - the possibilities are endless. It started with a chocolate bar and my chocolate-related greed, and led to a complete nightmare.  As always, I was really excited to unwrap the chocolate bar and eat it.  I also really didn't want to share it with my co-workers (who already steal my hand cream as it is) so my adrenaline was pumping as I raced to shove it all in my mouth- and yes, that is, in fact, what she said. The way this particular chocolate bar is wrapped leads to it laying upside down upon being unwrapped. I didn't bother flipping it over, and just broke off row after row mindlessly.  The first row tasted pretty good, but the second had some wisps of cotton hanging off of it. I brushed the cotton off before eating it.  By the third row, I started to wonder why there was so much wispy cotton on the chocolate bar. I put the little squares down and flipped the rest of the chocolate bar over to find the most horrific sight one should ever find on such a delightful dessert- there, wedged between two squares, was a nest.  It was thick and cocoon-like and I immediately thought I was going to die.  Then, it got worse. There, just a square away, was a little hole.  Let me break it down:  the thing made itself a cocoon, grew nice and strong, and buried itself in the chocolate bar.  Fuck knows how far it got, and chances are, I ate it, so now not only do I have bat rabies but there is a spider laying eggs in my body as I write this.  Everything after that is blurry - I put the chocolate bar down and my head started spinning.  I remember pounding the keys on my phone until my mother's voice answered, and the first thing she told me to do was call Nestle (and not a doctor? I like where your head's at, mom).  I also remember my conversation with the Nestle representative very well, because it was one of the most ridiculous moments in all of my existence.  It went as follows:

Representative:  So, can you describe the insect to me?
Me: Umm, no, because I didn't see it. There's a hole right beside the nest though.
Representative: Okay well can you look in the hole?
Me: I did. He's in there real deep. Can we talk about the ethics associated with this-
Representative: I need a description of the insect.
Me: I didn't see him! He's in the hole, I imagine, or I ate him. Probably the latter. 
*Long pause of silence*
Representative: Well how big was he?
Me: I don't know! I imagine no bigger than the hole he's in, and there's no way I'm breaking that chocolate bar open to check! For all I know, it could explode with a hundred spiders.
Representative: Okay I'll just write 'Client could not capture spider'
Me: Uhh, okay, or you could-
Representative: No, I'll write 'Spider was too fast for client'
Me:......Fine. The spider was too fast.
Representative: Can you tell me how big he was?
Me: ...................Okay, he was two millimeters big.
Representative: Oh no, that's too small for a spider. I'll put you down for an eighth of an inch.
Me: Sounds good. 
Representative: What color was he?
Me: Christ. He was green and white. He was covered in polka dots and his eyes were yellow.
Representative: Like a light green?
Me: Sure.
Representative: Okay, I'll need you to hold tight, don't eat any more of the chocolate bar, and we'll send you a coupon for ten dollars towards your next purchase.

I wish I was kidding about even a word of that conversation, but since I transcribed it as it was happening, I can ascertain that this is exactly what was said.  These days I'm not even sure what will become of me. Every morning I wake up expecting to look like one of the following:

The scary guy from Total Recall - thanks for letting me watch that when I was eight, dad. 
Who needs a healthy nervous system, right?


 Quark from Star Trek, although I know someone who looks identical to that and they seem to be doing fine.

The Toxic Avenger

Oh wait, that's just an old picture of me at a sleep-over.

Or, the most plausible scenario, a spider-bat combo. 

I'd like to say I learned two important lessons: a) share and b) always eat chocolate the right way up, but you never can tell with these situations. Besides, it's really hard to think with this itchy spider in my stomach.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

You're Mint, Baby

On a recent night out, I was making my way through the drunken carcasses at a nearby pub when I felt a sloppy hand around my waist, followed by the words above.  After shoving my suitor off and onto a herd of freshly enrolled university students (who, unlike me, welcomed him wholeheartedly), I suddenly remembered a mint-green skirt I've been meaning to wear before the leaves turned yellow.  This one is actually Valerie's, and I can't imagine pulling off the look in the 9 to 5 environment, but I appreciate the inspiration anyway. The top is vintage, and if you look hard enough, you'll notice the design is that of a creepy guy playing the trumpet...that or it's one of those Rorschach tests, in which case I'm not sure I want to know what that says about me...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Albert (A True Story)

In the words of Taylor Swift, today was a fairy tale.  Amy and I were out for a mid-morning stroll when we spotted a little ball of fur on the pavement, right in the middle of the busy downtown business core.  Upon closer inspection we realized it was a little bat, and after I got over my heart exploding from the shock of seeing something like this laying inches away from my face...I instantly fell in love.  His little mouth quivered as he attempted to lift his head off the ground, and I assumed he fell out of something (hopefully not the roof of my sky-rise) and was probably disoriented from being stuck in the middle of the street in broad daylight.  I knew we had to get him somewhere dark and safe, and luckily my fellow government employees have a soft spot for littering, so I was able to locate a nearby paper cup to scoop him up.  The cup was conveniently left behind with lid still on, so I took it off, nudged him in there and covered him lightly with it.  As I carried him towards a little tree, his wing suddenly expanded out of the mouth piece torn off by the original owner of the cup. I turned to Amy and mouthed a horrified scream (so he wouldn't be offended) clenching my hand into a fist to let my fear-driven adrenaline subside.  I'm not ashamed to admit I considered the possibility of this thing turning into Batman and unfolding out of the cup to attack my face- well like an evil Batman, anyway.  When I finally made it to the tree (I was walking very slowly so as not to anger Evil Batman) I propped the lid open to find basically the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life.  Here it is:

The wonderful thing about my building is that it boasts beautifully manicured flower beds.  The drawback is that I looked absolutely insane on my knees in my silk pants, climbing through these flower beds and into a tree.  I noticed a few people gathering around us, some probably with their fingers on their phone emergency buttons, and I can't blame them.

Luckily, the tree provided ample shade, and the little bat (whom we named Albert) was left alone for the majority of the time- there were some shit-disturbing pigeons, and a nosy squirrel, but we won't open up that can of worms. Unluckily, in an effort to help him, I spent some time researching bat care on Wikipedia.  I say unluckily because there's a good chance Albert has rabies, and that consequently I do as well. I haven't started feeling foamy yet, but Amy and I will be monitoring each other's symptoms for the next few days.  I hope we didn't make a terrible mistake saving Albert, but then there's also the chance that he'll remember our good deed and once he regains his strength (and morphs into a giant angry beast) we'll be homies.  He'll be all "We cool, bitches" and we'll be all "You know it" and he'll resume biting everyone else's necks while we watch and nod. Anyway, monster or not, I figured Albert would get thirsty when he woke up so I went in the kitchen and sliced a foam cup in half with a knife, much to the amusement of the co-workers dining at that very moment. "It's for a bat" I told them. I filled it with water, and brought it down, but decided that was where I drew the line.  Apparently bats eat worms and flies, but I just can't bring myself to kill something like that. There's also a chance he's vegetarian so that would be a waste.

I checked on Albert over the lunch break, over a few more afternoon breaks, and on my way home from work.  I couldn't make out his entire body through the tree branches, but I could always spot his little feet clinging to the edge of the cup. It was all I needed to know that, super-villain or not, there's a little heart beating just like mine, potentially evil but not at all impervious to love.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Silver Knife Yellow Nails.jpg

Last winter, my better half Tyler followed me on a nail polish adventure.  I was trying to find a certain limited edition shade, and Tyler was so intrigued by the chase that she bought a bottle, herself.  What started out as a legitimate name for a color "Mrs.O'Leary's BBQ" (thanks OPI) turned into monthly email updates between Tyler and I that ranged from Tyler's "I'm wearing WTF BBQ" to my "Today I put on O'Leary's Pork Roast".  Tragically, Tyler still lives in Montreal so these updates are imperative.  Well, as it turns out, Tyler also bought the neon nail polish I was raving about earlier, but this time, instead of notifying each other when the color was on our nails, I asked her to send me a photo of her demonstrating her new purchase.  I'm not sure exactly what is happening (or about to happen) in this photo, but I can say this doesn't surprise me.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If you call it an aubergine you'll sound classy

One little snag of living alone is that I don't often cook elaborate meals just for myself.  I don't eat very big portions so a lot of what I cook ends up being wasted.  I used to bring leftovers to work for other people to eat, but then I started to feel like a perv-y Mr.Rogers, so that stopped, and I was once again left with seventeen portions of paella, which isn't fun to eat.  Anyway, while I mostly stick to quick little dishes when dining solo, this past weekend I wanted to thug out on a recipe and this Gingery Eggplant in Coconut Sauce seemed promising as it was both vegan and exciting- two things that don't always co-exist.  I substituted a can of coconut milk for the 'coconut' because I wasn't sure of the form their coconut was in.  I also used Graffiti eggplant, because that was all I could find at my local grocery store (and because it sounds bad-ass).  It turned out really well, thanks to these ingredients:

Is there anything more photogenic than spices?

In all my experience with curries and generally creamy dishes,  it's very difficult to make them look good in photographs, so this is the best summation of the deliciousness that resulted:

Then I decided no meal was complete without a warm, chocolatey dessert, so I found Anais' trusty Blondies recipe, and spent the rest of the afternoon eating my emotions: