The Baby Urge: Pear Coffee Cake

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

-Cake accompanied by coffee and the sound of your biological clock running down.-

As it stands now, and much to the never ending dissappointment of my parents, neither BF nor I have any desire to have children.

My parents still see me as the most likely of their three children - all boys - to provide them with grandbabies. They have made this extremely clear to me. The last time my mother came up to visit she was polite enough not to bring it up around BF, but the moment he left to take out the trash?

"So, have you two considered having kids?"

"What!? No. Not yet. I don't know. We still want to finish our educations. Get our careers started. Buy a house. Travel..." I replied.

"I bought my first house when I was twenty-three, and I had your older brother by then. Plus, I was going to grad school," she explains matter of factly as she sips her iced tea.

My Mom: high school track star, debutante, honor roll, and general perfectionist. Currently, in her mid-sixties, she's now retired, traveling the world at least twice a year, and a marathon bicylcist. Incredibly admirable, but she's one of those excrutiating perfect examples that is nigh-impossible to live up to if you're in any way related to her as my siblings and cousins have lamented about her and her brother with his three Ph D's.

-It's the main problem with having successful parents.-

"Traveling with a kid is hard, mom. You know that. You took children to Spain and we were little nightmares."

"No you weren't!" she lies to herself, or maybe she really doesn't remember it that way. "It's hard, but if anything I proved you can do it," she firmly asserts.

"Well, that was you. Plus, I'd probably rather adopt."

"But sweetie," she pleads, "you have such good genes!" It's an semi-narcissistic compliment and argument both my parents make whenever I bring up the adoption idea.

"We're gay. Doing the turkey baster thing is expensive and the mother has rights so it doesn't always work out. Plus, there are plenty of older kids in foster care who need a home. If we adopt it'll be a kid around six to ten. Plus, YOU adopted! Remember?"

"That's true, but you don't get to name the child!" mom wails.

"So?" I say. I've named a few cats and they never come when you call them. From what I hear children are the same once they go past the age of seven.

(Given, if I could, I do have baby names picked out just in case. Aaron or Noel for a boy. Claire or Viola for a girl. Family names for middle names, of course, those being Michael, Brandon, or Suzanne. Else the family string me up for neglecting tradition.)

"Doesn't BF have a sister who could provide an egg?"

"MOM! No! Lord, dad, asked the same thing last week. It's not like asking for a cup of sugar."

"But, honey, you'll miss the best part. The baby stage," she sighs and I can tell she's remembering the days when she was a new mom three times. I think she's mentally blocked the parts where my older and younger brothers were tiny terrors. (By her admittance I was the perfect child.)

Storytelling: Fig & Blue Cheese Galette

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

-Something to get teary about. For joy, of course.-

When I was younger I never understood how adults could cry at movies. It seemed so strange to me that some fictional story and people who never existed could emotionally touch a person so much. It was an action I attributed to adult life and gave it little other thought than that.

The first story I cried to was actually from a video game. The lovers were forcibly parted: he would fade into non-existance and she would have to live her life without him. She runs to embrace him one last time but he suddenly fades away and she sorrowfully passes through him falling to the ground where she begins to cry on the floor. My heart absolutely broke in sympathy for her; this girl that never was. I called in sick to school that day and refused to leave my room for the next few hours.

After that, I found that I was easy to emotionally sway. A somber violin chord, the right words, well placed pathos all pulled me so far in that when things came to their teary conclusion I simply cried my eyes out. It happened when I watched the final few moments of Six Feet Under where I bawled and my boyfriend at the time had to come out and comfort me. In fact, those last six minutes still make me misty when I watch them as I think about my own family and mortality.

When I read Yiyun Li's book, The Vagrants, the ending left me almost hollow. It was as if the author had tapped me like a maple tree and drained every bit of happiness out of me - leaving only poignance. The characters had reached out of the pages and into my chest tugging them apart like bits of string from a frayed cloth. Every word was memorable and the book still resonantes with me.

-A good fig does, too.-

Recently, I've become horribly addicted to watching the most modern seasons of the BBC's, Doctor Who. In one of the episodes, Billie Piper's character, Rose Tyler, is forever separated from her love, The Doctor. After two seasons of watching them grow so fond of each other only to be forcibly thrown apart by the universe itself I must admit I was more than a bit melancholy.

Excuse me a moment. I have something in my eye...

Why is this sort of story telling so rare these days? What happened to characterization, story exploration, and plot?

No, these days we get this.

We drown in a deluge of raw sewage that is reality television and poor storytelling. Bad Girls Club, Hell's Kitchen, seasons 2-4 of Heroes, the list goes on and on, and - even worse - gets renewed season after season.

Generally I don't watch a lot of television. Given, I have a few guilty pleasures. True Blood is one, but that's more softcore porn that anything thank you Ryan Kwanten being naked in every episode. I do watch The Real Housewives and The A-List, but only after I've had a glass of wine or two and I've finished a thirteen hour work day. In these cases I don't want to use my brain anymore and, in that regard, reality television certainly has a place in my life. The Daily Show for sure, though I wish John Stewart would take a note from True Blood and get naked every episode as well.

Catch Up: Watermelon Sorbet

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

-My family often complains that I never talk to them and am too private (he typed on his blog), so I'm trying to take the initiative to call them more.-

Call No. 1: Brandon McCord. Younger brother.

Garrett: Hey Brandon. What's up?

Brandon: I'm cooking beet greens! They're steaming!

Garrett: Oh so?

Brandon: Did you know you could eat these?

Garrett: Yes. You can also eat carrot greens. Stir-fry them, toss them into salad, or make them into a pesto.

Brandon: Oh, okay, cool. I'm learning to cook more for myself more. It's really fun actually. I have a chicken marinating right now.

Garrett: Very cool. Good for you!

Brandon: What are you doing?

Garrett: Unpacking a yellow watermelon that unf-

Brandon: They come in yellow?

Garrett: Yes, the flesh is. And, unfortuneately, it's not pink. The yellow ones have a slight cantaloupe flavor that I find somewhat distasteful, but this one is mild, so it's fine.

Brandon: Oh. Hey can I call you back? The greens are burning I think. Maybe?

Garrett: How on earth do you burn something steaming? Is this like when you burned jell-o? Did you actually forget the water aga-


-That would be a yes.-

Call No. 2: Steve McGee. Uncle on father's side.

Garrett: ...Yes, we're a litigious state. Yes, California has traffic that slows down if there's a ratty boot abandoned along the pullover lane. And, yes, California has to rework immigration laws so workers can get here easier. I agree. Yes.

Steve: So how is not Kansas better?

Garrett: It's Kansas. You have tornados, snow, all and all just terrible weather, and the corn outnumbers the state population. Your only claim to fame is Dorothy Gail and that's because she's famous for leaving. Plus, she's not even real.

Steve: Alright. I'll give you that. But the people are nicer.

Garrett: Only in manners. You're a red state. They hate the liberals. "You don't belong here," they would cordially say before berrating my sexuality and support of Planned Parenthood over Kansas-style BBQ and a slice of pie.

Steve: Okay. Probably. But-

Garrett: Steve, can I call you later? I'm chopping up watermelon for sorbet. I'm gonna lose a finger.

Steve: Alright, call your dad.

Garrett: Will do.


Manners: Pistachio & Vanilla Sables

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

-Delicate and proper snackie bits.-

When it comes to manners in my family one is expected to be au fait in the subject. They won't make or break you with us, but by god if you want to rest comfortably in our subconscious opinion of you then knowing soup spoon from dessert spoon is critical. (The egg spoon, too, if you know what's what.)

Both sides of the family have a history of strict etiquette training. Cotillion for two years is a minimum. Children should be able to properly foxtrot at the age of six, Cha Cha at twelve, and god help you if you can't Charleston by the time you've graduated middle school.

Furthermore, manners classes are mandatory. I recall spending far too many Tuesday nights learning how to properly seat a lady, make introductions, and tie a tie (bow and straight; always Windsor).

All of it was so boring I would have killed to learn how to half-Windsor a noose and kick the chair out from under myself. Unfortunately, propriety demands that one do this in the privacy of your own home and not in front of classmates.

-For god's sake, kill yourself in private! We're not savages!-

The pinnacle of all the training was table manners. Prim, proper, precise. We didn't simply learn which side the fork goes on, but to differentiate the forks; salad, dessert, dinner, shrimp, fish, even snail forks and their proper places at the meal and when they could be served according to ancient custom was all part of the strict curriculum. Indeed, some of the laws were so odd and arcane (i.e. Brandy glasses must always be placed neither on left or right side of the dinner plate, but the side closest to the host) that one wonders if all this ritual might exist to summon some dark pagan god to brunch.

The instructor, a dour woman with a genteel mien and canckles thick enough to dock a ship to, was thorough to say the least. Not even fourteen, I was able identify nine various types of wine and spirits glasses through her tutelage. Furthermore, she wisely took an international approach and trained us in the proper handling of chopsticks and insisted that we never eat Indian food with our left hand.

Refinement was tested in a final exam: high tea at the Ritz Carlton. Our carriage was graded over steaming cups of Earl Grey and crustless cucumber sandwiches. Still a finicky eater at this age, I was sure that the vile offerings were a test of our vigilance because who on earth would actually want to eat any of it?

-Thank you, miss. May I have another?-

I passed with flying colors, though my acerbic wit in response to the food wasn't appreciated. Sadly, there was no place to escape and work on that double-noose Windsor.

In the end, of course, comes the day we all dread when we realize our parents were right. (Not that we would ever admit it.) So it was with all this training in social behavior. The dancing lessons paid off astoundingly well throughout high school, college, and beyond. Leading a sweet gent to the dance floor for a graceful lesson in the waltz is a fantastic way to sweep him off his feet and take him home. My impeccable manners ingratiated me to the parents of any boy I dated. Damn if a bartender doesn't appreciate the fact I know my port glass from brandy snifter.

Naturally, I don't hold others to these standards of near-ridiculous refinement. Not everyone went through such rigorous training. As long as you chew with your mouth closed, say please and thank you, and veer away from any conversation topics focusing on what you read in People magazine, well, we're just dandy.

Fever: Summer Cheese Plate

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

-Perfect when you're healthy, not so when you're sick. I wish, for your benefit, that you are currently the former.-

So there are a few things I hate about being sick. The first is that sickness always seems to happen when your husband, wife, partner, boyfriend, mom, whomever that person in your life is who is by nature of your relationship the designated person to love and care for you when you're a hot mess of viral plague is out of town. It's always a conference, work, family thing that takes them away from your bedside leaving you to stew in your piles of used tissues and to hack phlegm across the stove top as you warm up your canned soup.

As I sat groaning in bed I muddled this thought in my congested head. Once again, BF was away and I was sick. Even worse, I was homeless as my apartment - once thought to be fixed from the water leak - was now a hotbed of mold and remnant water vapor. Furthermore, I was unable to move due to being trapped in a lease with a bullheaded witch of an apartment manager whom the universe had - for some unforeseen reason - not yet seen fit to drop a house upon.

BF was away in Dublin, California, a forgotten armpit of the state that no one has ever heard of. Its location being so far away and so secluded from modern civilization the United States has of course seen fit to put a training base for the army there and bring in BF to learn how to set up the plumbing for a field hospital because, you know, why not?

-He also knows how to set up air conditioning, which will be handy when he has all that government cheese on hand.-

Lucky for me, I have friends who care and who live nearby. The bed I was groaning in was not my own but was that of my friend, Elise Bauer. My personal Florence Nightingale. Her home was once again my halfway house after a disaster.

Even more lucky, she and her charming boyfriend, Guy, a renaissance Frenchmen who knows everything from rental law to how to fix a an old shower head, were kindly keeping an eye on me. Elise comforted me with tea and clean, cotton sheets of a thread count higher than my rent. Guy kept me laughing and roasted marble potatoes and tomatoes into a simple, filling, but easy on the stomach meal.

As I sat in bed watching every episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (which, by the way, is an outstanding show to watch in a fever haze) and coughing up my ribcage whole they spent some of their time picking up homeopathic medicines and whipping up batches of pancakes for me to eat to gain some strength back.

I am truly blessed.

-Guy also encouraged that the French drink a lot to help ease sickness. I think the French are probably on to something with prescribing a shot of brandy to help your sinus headache.-

Now, the other thing I hate about being sick is that I generally can't eat dairy. At all. It just churns my stomach. Yogurt, ice cream, quark, or cheese; it all just makes me want to hurl like a runway model after she eats a potato chip.

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