June 8, 2012 § 25 Comments
So, I think I might have had more to share with you. Some further reflections, maybe a recipe, and many many thanks for your wonderful, kind response to my post about my feast. But it’s going to have to wait. It will have to wait because my consciousness has been completely and irrevocably subsumed by this soup.
It’s like a secret that’s just too good. It takes on a will of its own, growing and pushing and elbowing until it burbles out to be shared, whether or not you meant for it to be aired. I do want to share this soup with you, and it has decided that it simply can’t wait any longer.
When we ate it for supper a while back Joel exclaimed, “this is the first soup that I can say without qualification that I love.” Myself, I would count it among a very small handful of soups that I have truly loved. But it is the only one of said soups that does not also contain more than my week’s allotment of cream in a single bowl.
May 24, 2012 § 28 Comments
What do you call a large group of guests about to arrive? A gaggle? A bevy? A pod? A platoon?
How about a gift of guests? I suppose one does not without fail feel this way about one’s guests. But, it’s how I think of our guests who are coming for this weekend, so let’s go with it.
We have a gift of guests on their way, trickling in throughout today and tomorrow. And, although it truly does feel like a gift that folks are coming to visit, let me tell you, I could be a circus act with my frenzy of activity today.
With my hands I’m juggling meal planning, cooking, and last minute cleaning (of course the dog would choose to shed her winter coat right now). With the right foot I’m fending off the lions of hostess anxiety, and with the left I’m stomping out a couple of little work/research fires. And on my head is teetering the rest of the to-do list. (Call the vet, water the garden, write that memo…) All I need is a flower that squirts water and a big red nose!
May 14, 2012 § 35 Comments
The past couple of semesters, I’ve taught a graduate class on theories of behavior change in nutrition and public health promotion. (Talk about a mouthful of a course name, right?!) One of my favorite theories we cover in this class is one called Self Determination Theory.
I like it because in many fields, health promotion most definitely among them, we spend a lot of time thinking about what people are doing wrong and trying to figure out how we can convince them to do what we think is best for them based on what we (the experts, that is) think is important. And, when you spend a whole lot of energy focusing on the many things people aren’t doing or don’t really want to do, it’s easy to forget that people are also capable of amazing joy, creativity, curiosity, and completely intrinsic motivation.
Self Determination Theory is exactly about that. About where people’s motivation comes from and how the more they can connect a behavior with things that intrinsically motivate them, the more they will internalize that behavior, and the more likely they are to keep doing it.
April 17, 2012 § 26 Comments
I moved to Boston just about seven years ago. Actually, for those of you interested in geographical specificity, I moved to Somerville. But I didn’t even know what the distinction was between them at the time. On the day I arrived, after having driven through the night, through Canada, with only a two hour stop for a nap at 6:30 in the morning before chugging onward and pulling up to my new apartment at 2:30 PM, I decided to try to take the subway down to the Boston Common and the Public Garden to hang out there in the remaining late afternoon sun. (Actually facing the boxes of my belongings in my new space was simply too daunting. I needed some time.)
The last time I had been in the area was the summer between kindergarten and first grade, and the only thing I still remembered from that experience in Boston was being in the Public Garden. Actually, what I remembered was sitting on the Make Way for Ducklings statue in the Public Garden, and that memory was largely based on a photograph my mom had taken.
In heading towards this destination held in my memory, the very first thing I did (and this is a remarkably easy thing to do in Boston, even if you have a better sense of direction than yours truly) was get on a bus going in exactly the wrong direction. I don’t even know how I figured out I was on the wrong course, except perhaps when the conductor yelled, “Arlington Center!” All I remember is how vivid, and noisy, and full of energy everything felt. I always feel this way in a new city, senses heightened as I eye everything closely trying to discern what it is, what it means, where I’m headed.
April 11, 2012 § 20 Comments
Hello friends. How are you? I am well, but my head is quite lodged in a cloud of data. Like the high peak of a mountain, caught in its own little weather pattern of eternal fog. Would that I had some of the other characteristics of a mountain to compensate! I trust that at some point it will all coalesce and I’ll be able to step out of it enough to see what shape it is – a bunny! a dragon! an armadillo! ah, the shapes clouds take on… – but right now I’m in the thick of it, hours upon hours of interview data.
(At least it’s the very best kind of data I could possibly be wanting to work with – people’s stories! How precious! Yet, I find this also makes it all the harder to do anything akin to analyzing. I’d rather just listen…)
Also, along with Boston’s schoolchildren, whatever wonky muse I may be endowed with seems to be taking an April vacation. Anyone who has seen Elizabeth Gilbert’s stellar TED talk on creativity and genius will know exactly what I mean when I say, my genius is being “kind of lame” at the moment. (And, if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. It’s fascinating and entertaining.) « Read the rest of this entry »
April 7, 2012 § 14 Comments
My childhood was filled with snowy Easters, the ground washed out with dirty grey snow banks punctuated by brown splotches as taupe as a suburban housing development. We would collect barren branches at the start of Lent and put them in a vase, and by Easter tiny leaves would be peeping out from the buds. This was the only green to be seen. The only flowers were those in the colorful plastic wrapped pots we brought home from the grocery store.
This is my way of asking forgiveness if I prattle on and on about spring for the next couple of weeks. It’s a bit hard to think about much else right now. Spring in these parts can be a little in your face.
If appearances are anything to go by, the trees have hired the same decorator that did Barbie’s Dreamhouse. The cherries’ branches are waterfalls of tiny pink blossoms. The magnolias are bedecked with large drooping flowers as soft and swishy as ballerina skirts. I always find the pastel palate that industry breaks out for spring to be terribly cheesy, until spring actually rolls around. Then I remember that it’s just honest. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 28, 2012 § 12 Comments
I am a coveter of ideas. I’m not proud of this. It may, in fact, be a death knell of sorts for creativity – how can you be original when you’re wishing you had someone else’s idea? But it’s awfully hard not to covet it when someone has a really great idea.
It mostly happens when it feels like an idea I potentially could have had. I hear it, and the idea just. makes. sense. And my instant reaction is, “maaaaaan (in a kind of nasal, whiney internal voice), why didn’t I think of that?”
Or perhaps even more covetable is a realization of an idea that I actually have had, but mine simply hadn’t had enough time to gestate. A little premie of an idea still in need of some incubation and maybe a little knit cap. It’s inspiring to see someone else’s version of the same idea, well nourished and fully fleshed out into practice. Inspiring, and a wee bit annoying.
March 20, 2012 § 11 Comments
A while back, more years than I’d like to consider actually – oh. yes. that’s a little scary to think about – I took a journalism class. As with so many classes, I remember very little from it. A few things, however, are indelibly stuck in my memory: the inverted pyramid format of conveying information (most important info first, juicy details later), which I found I abhored; the maxim, “if it bleeds it leads” (meaning, violence always get the front page); and the professor’s counsel that the public always wants stories about war, scandal, children, and pets.
I’m not sure I agree with that assessment. Or maybe it’s just that those are never the things I want to write about. (Good thing I didn’t wind up going into journalism!) Except today. Today I want to write about pets, specifically, my pet. You’ve all already humored me so much, but now I’m going to make you listen to just one more story about the puppy.
Because, this weekend, we took her to the beach, and she saw the ocean for the first time.
It was pure joy to watch her awe as she crested a dune and started at the sight of the water. She stared for a long moment, just like I do whenever I arrive at the ocean, actually. Then, she initiated a game of chase with the waves. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 16, 2012 § 33 Comments
This is where I am right now: it has been quite a week. Actually, to be perfectly honest, and for lack of a better way to put it, it’s been a pretty terrible week. It could have been a worse week, and for that I’m thankful – that it wasn’t worse – but, it has still been the sort of week where, at the end of it, you need a really effing huge (and I almost never use fake expletives, so you better believe I mean this) glass of wine to salvage any vestiges of sanity and good humor you may have hiding somewhere.
The week before was a rough week, but it was merely busy. It was just work. I can handle work stress with a tearful breakdown only every couple of weeks (crying is how I seem to let emotions out. Any emotion. Happy, sad, angry, stressed…It’s not convenient, but it’s how I work.). But this week it got personal as well.
March 13, 2012 § 9 Comments
Hi! Hi guys! I’m still here. I’ve just been AWOL for a week because of some major project deadlines that required working evenings and weekends (and listening to this song too many times – it gets so stuck in your head! Thanks SNL.), and that have left me with about the mental fortitude of a barnacle. I thought the project was going to be done yesterday. Wrong. We now have a couple NEW deadlines! Yippee!
But, those will just have to wait for a moment because I have a sandwich to share with you, and it is a smashing one.
A bánh mì is a Vietnamese sandwich with any variety of fillings. Given that my office is in Chinatown, I learned about bánh mì some time ago. On every corner there is a shop selling dirigible-sized baguette rolls filled with meats and pickles for $2. But, though I salivated every time I saw someone else gnawing their way through one, I could never bring myself to buy my own. Call me a street food wimp, but I was a wee bit sketched out by the meat and my thoughts of where it might come from.
I averted my eyes, and hustled past all the signs advertising massive, cheap sandwiches. But then, then fate intervened and brought the world Bon Me, the grand solution to my sandwich qualms.