Friday, December 19, 2014

'Tis the Season in Manhattan

I don't go to Manhattan that often, no need to. James goes there every weekday, but he was still a good sport last weekend and accompanied me to check out the Rockefeller tree and other seasonal festivity. 

So, window shopping: The windows at the big department stores here are so tricked out this time of year there are roped-off lines to herd people past them. (We did not stand in these lines, content to just see the displays from afar.)

I've never been a huge rom-com watcher, even still sometimes when I go into the city, or the night we went to look at the skyline from Dumbo, sometimes I feel this giddy sense of nostalgia which I can only attribute to the sense of physically stepping into this world I'd only seen in movies for the first 28 years of my life (yes, the first time I ever came here was September). 

We also went to Ikea last weekend and our apartment is mostly furnished now. We love it.

Happy holidays, everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Horror

This has already been recounted on other family blogs, but for the record herein I will explain my role in a, hmm how shall we say, a very memorable Thanksgiving. 

Something you need to know up top: I am very, very cavalier about eating raw eggs. I remember making cake with my mom as a little kid and she was like, "don't eat the batter! you'll get sick!" But...I'm a kid. I can't help but eat the batter. Though usually I'd sneak just a little bit, because when you're 6 or so you don't have a sense of how sickness happens and the logic "a little probably wont hurt" suffices. Then, when I was slightly older, I had a babysitter and we made a box cake and she was totally cool with me eating batter. She said when she made cake with her mom they'd eat like HALF the batter before it went into the oven. I recognize this now as exaggeration, but at the time I took it as carte blanche to eat all the raw egg I wanted. 

I guess you could say the babysitter left a lasting impression. Now I eat all the uncooked things - steak, fish, eggs. Life is too short not to eat everything. My friend told me about a restaurant in San Francisco that serves sashimi chicken, I might draw the line there. Maybe.

However, this is a deeply personal gastronomic choice and not a decision one should make on behalf of say a very large holiday dinner party. One that probably includes pretty much every stripe of person listed in the CDC's increased risk group

This Thanksgiving, I rolled those dice.

I made cesar salad, the way I always do, with a raw egg. I didn't even think twice about it. Really, I didn't think about it at all. Nor did I tell anyone. It was delicious, most everyone ate it, it ran out before the last couple folks could get through the buffet line. Lucky them.

About 24 hours later, my cousin Meghan was the first to go down. She mistakenly blamed barbecue oysters she'd had for lunch. We all felt bad for her and played Scrabble without her.

Sometime around 2 am Saturday morning I started to not feel so good myself. I knew I was on the verge of bad bodily things happening so I went to the bathroom. Regrettably, I was too tired to think strategically about what was maybe, probably about to happen. If I'd been thinking strategically, I might have sat down in the usual place and picked up the trash can. I did not sit down in the usual place. Instead, I hugged the toilet bowl. Big, big mistake.

I woke up the next morning and learned six other people were sick. Two more people got sick later Saturday. I took out 10 people, including myself, with a single egg. 

In consideration of the mass pain, inconvenience and holiday-weekend-ruining I wreaked on so many people, this is probably the worst thing I've ever done. Top five, at least.

Later in the weekend, when I was feeling somewhat better, I inspected the bathroom where I did not take appropriate strategic action. If you've ever watched a crime procedural, you've probably seen a detective, combing over the scene of the crime, looking for clues that the perpetrator left after a hasty clean up. In this fall's Gone Girl, there are the two drops of blood spatter over the kitchen range. And I'll end by saying I'm glad I gave the bathroom a second pass.

If you're reading this and I haven't apologized to you yet, I am sorry. Have I learned my lesson? Absolutely, I will never serve raw egg to unwitting dinner guests again. First thing I cooked when James and I made it back to New York? Carbonara. The kind where you put the raw egg into the cooked pasta. Because YOLO.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

On Pot Farming

In October I spent two weeks in Humboldt County and several nights camping on a marijuana farm. The story came out in California Sunday Magazine today. If you happened to be a California newspaper subscriber living in an affluent zip code, you might be able to read me in print today! All other riffraff, here's a link

Important detail not included in story: I had to wash my yoga pants five times to get the skunk out. 

Also, Humboldt is awesome. I got really lucky with a friend I met while hiking in Burma who hooked me up with his mom's empty beach house in Arcata while I was reporting. Most nights in Arcata I'd walk over to his place, 5 minutes from the beach house, and we'd have beers and talk about Humboldt. 

Marijuana really seems like beer there, people are casual about it, and in turn it seems less 'edgy,' it's just whatever if you smoke or not. Such a huge cultural divide from here in New York - where they only just approved medical marijuana, and only for a strict list of conditions. In Humboldt, the question isn't if but how you are connected to the industry. 

My friend in Arcata is into rapping. One night he brought another rapper over to jam, plus a French singer-clarinetist who was in town to trim showed up too. I told the group about harvesting pot at 1 a.m. on this farm (the growers were rushing to beat the rain) and was subsequently treated to a freestyle session about my harvest experience. That was cool. Naturally, there was a pipe going around.

Legalization is necessary for the environment, to reduce violent crime related to the black market, to relieve sick people, and because people should be free to get high. But the most pressing reason to legalize is to do away with the criminalization that disproportionately affects people of color. Black people are four times as likely as whites to be arrested for possession despite similar usage rates. That disparity exists even in states with small minority populations. Here in New York, black people are nine times more likely to be arrested for possession, according to the NYCLU

Thankfully, NYPD stopped arresting in favor of ticketing last month. Nevertheless, we have a racist justice system. Fact. Not opinion. This is one small, easy and obvious way to make it better.

End rant.