Friday, April 16, 2010

A problem that began at the Musee Carnavalet

I took or found these pictures as inspiration for the aesthetic for my future home. Why is everything simple/minimal/Japanese-inspired/neutral/subdued, when all I want is elaborate, layered, complementary/mismatched-patterns and portraits hanging in from of mirrors?

Also, I love/Lowes does not carry these floor tiles from some place in Paris, which I believe had a golden dome. Why are there no dinner plates that follow this color scheme? Why do people cringe when I seem to think more than one pattern of wall paper + patterned drapes + these tiles would make for a lovely home?

I probably should not have taken this picture of a portrait hanging the Louvre. But the West probably should not have colonized the East.

This painting should not seem out-of-place in any future home of mine.

I hope to recreate this Salon aesthetic, minus all the French dudes.

Did you know I cannot find bedsheets in this beautiful shade of green? Because I cannot.

Did you know the only dinner plates that are embellished just enough to be just a little over-the-top are not microwave safe? Did you know I will not deal with dinner plate that is not microwave safe?

Looking at these photos has led me to conclude:
1) I have to learn to reupholster my own chairs
2) Neema and I will get to go to flea market to find antique furniture.
3) Hanging portraits in front of mirrors has got to be possible in this day and age.

Monday, March 22, 2010

occupational hazards

1. paper cuts
2. the only cloud in the sky was dark and ominous, from what must have been a distant fire

Monday, February 15, 2010

February on Trial

In fifth grade, I acted in a play called February on Trial. The month of February was put on trial because the other months, particularly March and January, thought she wasn't doing her part, having so few days and all.

I initially played the part of February, and then was promoted to being the prosecution lawyer. Although I played the part of the play's antagonist/ruined the play with a fit of giggling about halfway through, I'd like to reprise my role.

I hate the month of February! It is gloomy and school is boring. The only thing it does have going for it is that it is short and will be over soon.

Honorable Jury, please sentence February to cheeriness. I'm sure December's Holiday Spirit or June's Endless Sunshine would be great mentors. October's Chilly Energy would make an effective probation officer.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Reporting Live from McAllen-Miller International Airport!

Dear Readers (whomever you may be, real or in my imagination),

Hurray for free wireless at the fabulous airport in McAllen, Texas. I have been "straight-chillin'" here, a few miles from the border, watching airport on-goings since 5:30 AM this morning. Around me I see fellow-fliers, some frustrated, some calm; through the big glass windows, I see...not much... thanks, thick fog. One flight out of here has been canceled, but I am still hopeful that I will be flying out in an hour--three hours later than I'd hoped, but moving towards home nonetheless.

This time yesterday, I was learning the rules to middle-school dodgeball. At school, they had a bunch of "stuff" for the kiddies to do--a dance, movies, various sports (including bowling!), snacks for purchase, board games--and, of course, we teachers got to supervise. I initially was responsible for selling at the concession stand, but was offered a trade to dodgeball by one of my co-workers. Figuring that physical activity would be more exciting than preparing hot cheetos with cheese* all day, I agreed.

I spent more time during dodgeball screaming at kids than I have all year. It was chaotic, but fun. I was told, "Miss, you throw like a girl"; broke up what could have bubbled into a fight; and canceled dodgeball after one kid hit another with one of the bright orange cones that cornered off the dodgeball area. I was pleasantly surprised that when I ran into the dodgeball crossfire, yelling "TIME OUT! GIVE ME ALL THE BALLS NOW", the boys stopped and handed me the balls. For most of the day, as I ran in and out of the dodgeball "court" telling boys who were out that they needed to get off the court, the boys on the sidelines would pull me out of the way if I were going to get pegged; it was very sweet of them. I had kind of expected they would try to hit me with the balls most of the day, so it was really nice that they kept an eye out for me instead.

It was fun, but I might grow up and be one of those moms at the PTA that makes the school stop playing dodgeball. From what I saw, it's not much of a sport when 8th graders play it--it's more of a "how hard can I hit the lame kid without getting caught?" game. Well, actually, I'd advocate for kids to play whatever sports, but also require some sort of sportmanship/sportswomanship/sportspersonship? curriculum.

* To those of you who don't live in the Valley, hot cheetos with cheese is, unfortunately, exactly what it sounds like: a bag of spicy hot cheetos, with nacho cheese poured on. It tastes like one would expect: delicious but horrible. The school sells this stuff, in addition to soft drinks, candy, nachos, and other junk, to raise money. Texas schools can only sell/give junk food to kids on certain days (like before breaks), or after lunch. The school makes a ton of money off of it, but I really don't think that my students should be exposed to such unhealthy food just so we can afford field trips (the sales don't generally raise funds for stuff like books). My students definitely don't eat healthy at home, if they eat much at all. Why give them such horribly fattening food? In a country with an obesity epidemic, it makes no sense. We may as well let them roll around in raw chicken.

Now, I am going to start watching Arrested Development, and then move on to Planet Earth. I figure I can have both series finished by the time I get home tonight at 10:30 PM.

Happy Travels!

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Dear World,

If you must inundate me with a holiday I don't celebrate, the least you could do is make sure there is peppermint bark available for purchase in the chaos that is the grocery store. I expect better the next time I brave H.E.B.


Dear Readers,

When the World gyps you and you can't buy any peppermint bark, do not despair. The winter/holiday season can still be full of minty goodness! Of course, peppermint is with us all year long: it's in our toothpastes and shampoo; it adds a kick to chicken skewers and samosas; it calms our tummies as tea when we have too much chicken and too many samosas (and even too much toothpaste, yikes).

Why, though, does peppermint make such a not-so-subtle appearance in the wintertime? I made up a completely unfounded answer to this question, which is as follows: Peppermint is an invasive species (fact). It chokes out all the other plants in the neighborhood, and when the harvest season comes, it's all that's usable from our gardens in the winter. We extract its oils, dry its leaves, and call it holiday cheer.

Since we have such a plethora of peppermint, I have some suggestions on the best ways to get a peppermint fix:

1. Starbucks' Peppermint Mocha. Get it hot, unless you live in the Valley. Then, an ice-cold peppermint mocha hits spot on a sunny, 80-degree December day. It's a good trick to convince your body that it is technically winter.

2. Candy canes-we tend to get gifted tons of these. Fact: they are adorable. Fact: they are messy and sticky and annoying and get slobbery when you eat them. Solution: for a holiday Scrabble party, make your guests each a mug of hot chocolate. Unwrap a candy cane for each mug, and put it in each glass as a stirrer. They melt into the hot drink giving it a minty kick, look adorable curling out of the mug, and are a great way to unload all those candy canes!

3. Candy canes can also be smashed up and used to top icecream, brownies, cupcakes--most anything sweet.

4. Let's be honest, sometimes you buy peppermint bark without totally thinking (peppermint bark is exciting). You bring it home, and uh-oh, it's not REAL peppermint bark---it was made with WHITE CHOCOLATE which ISN'T EVEN CHOCOLATE because it has NO COCOA in it. What to do? Brave the obscene return lines at the store? Absolutely not. Break off a few pieces and let it melt into your morning coffee. Deeeeelectable.

I hope your winter and Christmas and New Year and Hanukkah are full of fresh, peppermint breath! Let me know if you have any other uses of my favorite essential oil.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am thankful...

1. that I am not a turkey
2. that I am not a Native American during the colonial era or around when everyone was all Manifest Destiny about stuff
3. for my students being awesome, and knowing that saying "I love Harry Potter" is a good way to get extra points during a game
4. that unlike most of those mentioned above, I have a wealth of opportunity, and can, therefore, really truly look forward to a wonderful future
5. for my family and Neema
6. for #5 helping me help #3 avoid the fate similar to that of #1 and #2
7. for my having the sense to say: I'm not minimizing how awful it must have been to have been on the losing side of America's expansion by comparing it to the life of a turkey. I'm just saying either would be pretty awful.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

munching meat

At first, I hesitated a little to write about this. I feel like, for some reason, meat-eating can be a volatile issue. That said, I am writing this as a choosy meat-eater. Even if my words aren't worth a read, I'd say everyone should get the book I am discussing, because I want to know what you think.

After reading about it in reviews in the New Yorker and New York Times, I picked up Eating Animals by Johnathon Safron Foer last night. It's been as tough to read as it has been to put down and I'm not sure that I'll easily digest it either. I would say that it's a book about vegetarianism, but I think that would do it a disservice, not to say there would be anything wrong with a book about vegetarianism. However, I say it's "not about vegetarianism" because it's not about vegetarianism. It's more of an exploration of how and why and if we should eat animals.

I find the book challenging because I eat meat. I have not finished the book, nor have I thought through everything I have read. I do, however, have thoughts.

I only eat halaal meat, which means that the animals I eat are presumably raised and killed according to Islamic ethical guidelines.
Going into the book, I:

1) always had problems with the fact that I couldn't be sure (hence, I used the word 'presumably') that Islamic guidelines are being followed (animals raised nicely and killed nicely... what does nicely even mean?)
2) believe Islamic guidelines for ethical eating need to be revisited anyways.

As for number 1, in Kentucky, our imam would go to some person's farm and slaughter the animals we ate by hand. I felt comfortable about that situation. Now, I eat halaal meat from Houston. Who knows how they were killed? Maybe my idea of "nice" is not this butcher's?

For number 2, it is currently "halaal" to eat friend chicken at the specific KFCs that sell "halaal" fried chicken. I say it's "halaal" because really, can KFC, which treats its chickens pretty abysmally, really be halaal? Even if the ones I eat were not treated badly?
The spirit behind Islamic dietary laws is to eat with a conscience, humanely, and ethically. So even if KFC kills a few chickens the "right" way, is it still "right" to eat there? Should we indirectly support what happens to those other chickens?
Similarly, it's "halaal" to eat chocolate made from cocoa beans harvested by children who are effectively enslaved in Cote d'Ivore. Can my eating Nestle really be true to the Quran? It say in that book (Surah 42, Verses 41-42, to be exact) first, that one should struggle against oppression, and that "blame attaches but to those who oppress [other] people and behave outrageously on earth, offending against all right." I think we can all agree that child-slavery is oppression in this day and age. Eating the fruits of their free labor is not really struggling against oppression; rather, it is indulging in its melt-in-your-mouth glory.

My point, though: what is halaal to eat needs to be reconsidered by "the scholars." That said, I don't have to listen to the scholars. I just need to listen to my heart and not my tummy and work harder to think before I eat.

Which brings me back to Eating Animals.
My favorite thing about the book is that it does not proselytize. It just sets out the horrors of factory farming (which I knew, but can afford be reminded) but then also raises questions about... eating animals, even the ones we treat nicely. It doesn't tell me not to eat them. It asks me to think about it.

That said, the information it offers me to digest is pretty much "wow look at horrible things that have to do with meat-eating". I would like someone who eats meat (all kinds of it) to read this book and tell me what they think.

Also, just to clarify, just because vegetarians don't eat meat, it doesn't mean they don't think meat is/can be delicious. That's why we eat fake meat. It's like how you wouldn't kill someone in real life, but you would in a video game. I think...