Saturday, August 29, 2009

Clotheslines and Katydids

Birdpartments in my grandparents' yard.

I never thought it would actually come, but my vacation began yesterday when I left work at 7 p.m. After rushing to get through a small but substantial swath of work, I threw everything I thought I might need for a 2.5 week trip to London into luggage and one trash bag, made the drive west on I-70 and pulled into my parents' house in Kansas City last night.

It was a quiet, dogless house. The huskies were dropped off at the puppy hotel earlier that day, and my parents were making last-minute preparations for their adventure to an off-the-grid island in Maine. They left this morning, just after 5, and I awoke to an empty house in the woods. I lounged through the lazy morning on the screened-in porch, read the news, ate too many bowls of cereal and celebrated an early autumn in August. When I was bored with the Internet, I opened all of the windows and traded off doing my laundry and hanging it to dry with finishing up a couple of freelance projects.

Sounds awfully domestic and boring? No, it was wonderful!

I used to complain a lot about where I lived. When I was nine, my parents uprooted my brother and me from our friends and normal neighborhood to live in a house they had built in the woods on the top of a bluff that overlooks the river you can only see when the trees are bare. I missed having a next-door neighbor. And since I can barely ride a bike, I missed not having a proper block to ride in — I'm incapable of turning in a small space. But, over the year (and especially when I left for college), I've developed a deep affection for this house and the woods and the tiny blacktop road that winds towards it. There's hardly any light pollution. The moon serves as the streetlight. The katydids rasp against the hoot of a snowy barn owl I rarely see but always hear. And, with no one here at the moment, the simple luxury of walking around in my underwear is a frequent and liberating habit.

I am pre-vacationing. By the time I roll off of the tarmac to London on Monday evening, I will have slept a ridiculous amount and eaten too much (with grandparents up the road, there's no point in eating besides when I come home).

Although the only sound (save for the katydids) is the far-off hum of trains, I crave city noises. It's difficult to go to bed at night because it's so quiet. So, while I'm here, I'm visiting a few of my downtown Kansas City favorites. It's just something you do if you vacation to a place you've visited before. You develop favorites and go back to them. I have my favorites after 22 years.

Today I picked up a few things from Hammerpress, a fantastic letterpress and screen printing studio in the Crossroads of downtown Kansas City. The shop fills a small area in the front of the studio, and presses (where the shit goes down) stretch to the back, taking up the majority of the space. The people are nice. The cards, postcards, books, notebooks, posters and custom invitations are nice too. Well, actually, they're exquisite. Every time I visit, I have half-a-mind to ask if I can work for free, just to learn how to use their letterpress and stand a little longer among the lovely things they make.

I also stopped by Christopher Elbow Chocolate for some gifts. I've blogged about him before, but it's worth saying over and over how much I love this place. The shop's minimalist space on McGee Street lets the chocolate show off. Speckled colors and intricate patterns adorn the miniature edible jewels that come in flavors such as Earl Grey Tea and Rosemary Caramel. It's almost too difficult and overwhelming to pick the chocolates to fill a box, but I managed to fill two. I promise I didn't eat them — only the Lemon chocolate, which I bought separately. Underneath its shiny, Meyer Lemon-yellow and speckled-white surface, it is creamy, slightly tart (but not too much) and white-chocolate-y. Buyer beware: the looks of an Elbow chocolate are deceiving. When eaten, a tiny thumb-print-sized chocolate lasts much longer than you might assume. It slides slowly, from the roof of your mouth, down your throat, and leaves enough of an aftertaste to compel one to declare, "That was exactly what I needed!"
Tomorrow I'm off to Lawrence, a very favorite city just outside of Kansas City to see a very favorite friend. With the laundry finished, I'll hopefully start and finish my packing so that the vacation across the sea can commence.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

10:12 a.m.

Recently, I met up with a few girlfriends for an emergency "support group" / gossipfest. 

Despite certain unhappy circumstances, it was good to catch up. We chatted for several hours, stayed well past Closed, and I left with a combination buzz of too much caffeine and a happy, near-feminist, Janis Joplin song-singing feeling.

At one point, a friend, who I shall call "A," mentioned how nice it is to have finally grown out of the phase in which we—young, female adults—feign interest in the interests of the opposite sex. We swapped horror stories of enduring their all-night video game parties for the "sake of love." I recalled nightmares from the golf course and tennis courts. 

In my current relationship  I am more than lucky. T is  too clever to be deceived by any half-assed attempt at interest and wouldn't stand for it anyway. 

It is now, though, that I will take a moment to recognize a few items that, at one point, I pretended to like in order to get a boy to like me. The years have melted off the yucky break-up fat and have left me with trinkets, memories, activities and snippets of excellent conversation pieces that I honestly do enjoy. Thank you, exes. 

1. Jazz. Herbie Hancock, especially. But I took a liking to Bill Evans immediately. 

2. Drums. After a slew of drummer boyfriends, I have acquired an uncanny amount of knowledge pertaining to the drums and drummers and little drummer boys. A warning: Drummers really like to talk about drumming. 

3. Chuck Klosterman. I couldn't stand Chuck, but I really liked the guys who liked him. A few years ago, I met Chuck and explained that he was the reason I probably couldn't fall in love. He sat quietly and listened to my mini-tirade in the book-signing line. Next to his autograph in my copy of IV, he wrote "Your ex-boyfriends are cultural failures." I'm not entirely convinced of this anymore, considering my ex-boyfriends encouraged the exposure to jazz, non-fiction and music.

4. Politics. If you're not interested in every aspect of politics, don't date someone who wants to be a politician. It does, however, come in handy, when you can spout of information he has just told you at dinner parties with other politically savvy individuals. I must say, that when President Obama started his campaign, my forced exposure to the political world helped get me through the issues and get excited about the democracy. 

5. Interesting meats. I had never tasted elk until I dated a hunter. I didn't really like at the time, but I got through dinner and the awkward conversations with his parents. In retrospect, I probably didn't like it because I thought elk were cute. But I could have been ahead of the times! In the environmentally conscious world, trying new protein, especially local meats such as bison, is like, the new black. 

6. Disc-Jockeying. Or spinning. I heard a lot of music. The problem was, he only wanted to talk about music. He did have some great screenprints, though. Now I have an excellent collection of electronic music mixtapes he made. I am the life of the party, or I was until he quit making them and the music on the tapes went out of vogue. 

Anyway, just a few things I've remembered in the past day or so. Have you adopted any of your ex's favorites?

Monday, August 24, 2009

1:45 a.m.

My current writing process can be summed up in three words:

Late. Puzzling. Blurry.

What about yours?

9:02 p.m.

Sometimes I'm not sure if the out-of-doors smells darn good or if I smell bad. 

Maybe I should have a shower and put my worry to rest.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

8:50 a.m.

The week's weather has brought one day, finally, with chilly undertones. The first preview of fall is upon us, and even though the sky is grey, I couldn't help but wear my favorite sweater and jeans into work. I just wish I were sitting in my living room at home with some homemade granola and The New York Times, instead of at this desk!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Currently listening to Bill Evans' "Beautiful Love" from Everybody Digs Bill Evans.

Too much editing for one night! Limehouse Magazine is going to press this week, so get ready for some arts+culture+fun Dublin-style.

It's time to ring in the new season of Mad Men with a glass of wine, since it's too late for a mint julep.

6:28 p.m.

Another invention!

Peanut butter, chocolate chip and oat cookies. I'm sure countless others have thought of this too, but I had a cupboard full of the stuff, so why not?

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I made too many fishcakes, so friends came over for dinner. We ate good food and played music. No photos—everything (homemade salsa, salmon cakes, salad, figgy bars and homemade wine!!) was gobbled too quickly, but I will be trying this recipe (of my own invention) again. Instead, you can enjoy the current state of my kitchen. Nice and tidy thanks to friends who wouldn't let me clean up. Hooray!

6:08 p.m.


White peach and yellow tomato salsa with lime, cilantro and cumin.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

11:42 p.m.

I never bake, but lately I've been coveting the recipes found at Sprouted Kitchen (and the beautiful photos too). Last week I made the blog's Oat-Nana's, and after a surprisingly productive morning, I made some delicious nutty, oaty, figgy nosh. It's great with yogurt or with a cup of breakfast tea and plumcot.


Have I mentioned that I adore my apartment?


Thursday, August 13, 2009

12:41 p.m.

A friend's wisdom. 

Okay, it's probably not completely true, but i needed the perspective. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

12:57 a.m.

Today someone at work asked if I was familiar with Hawaii. Kind of a random question, but I have been there twice, and ever since this afternoon's brief conversation about Maui, I haven't been able to get the beach out of my head.

Six years ago we took a family vacation to the island, and I took this photo with a disposable camera while I drank nothing but cherry cokes on the beach and innocently learned how to tie the stems into knots with my tongue. Maui had the cleanest, most tropical, almost edible scent–one I try to replicate whenever I set foot in a Tommy Bahama. The thought of our vacation immediately conjures the punky, angsty, quintessentially 16-year-old-teenager mixtapes I burned through as the sun toasted my back on the beach. If only I had spent more time listening to the crash of the waves instead.

We drove, in a white Lincoln Towncar, 10,000 feet up a volcano and into the sky. My brother slept as we climbed above the clouds. The coupe in front of us was driven by a young woman who decided that Mount Haleakala was the best place to learn how to drive a manual. She stalled and my father jumped out to help and to fail at convincing her that steep, 10,000-foot inclines aren't recommended for first-time stick drivers. I don't remember if we saw her on the way down the volcano. We all agreed that she was just fine.

My hair was blonde then. I had an excessive amount of turquoise jewelry. I wore a pink bikini, and despite blaring terrible music, I developed quite an affinity for jazz. Paul, my brother, was still shorter than me. I liked running on the white sandy shoreline and pretending it was just me and the sea.

Even after entire days spent roasting in the sun, I couldn't get enough of the sapphire water. While my parents slept through the night, I snuck through the patio door and out to the beach, in my pajamas, without my walkman, and enveloped by the irreplaceable fragrance of the island.

Monday, August 10, 2009

11:53 p.m.

The excitement I had for summer (and all things related)—graduation, vacation, staycation, any other "ations"—has long since gone. A patch on my foot scabs over week after week from the same bug bite. It's impossible to not sweat, even when I'm in the shower. My mail even feels soggy and fatigued. 

It's taking all of my strength not to blast the air conditioner and turn my apartment into a chilly Arctic tundra just so I can traipse about in cool-weather clothes. Here's hoping boots and cardi weather comes early. I miss my favorite outfits.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

11:06 p.m.

I'm back in Columbia after a weekend of wine-drinking, sun-bathing and lap-swimming in Kansas City. Oh, my, it is difficult to return to the real world! I've just finished a late dinner of roasted onions, tomatoes and garlic (steeped in butter) atop sliced and toasted baguette (steeped in butter). 

I tried to take photos, but since the camera is now beyond repair, the computer lens won't suffice. Luckily, I'm purchasing a pretty little camera this week. Not to worry—you shall see more lovely recipes and also how the apartment is coming together. I'm quite pleased with my collection of fantastic chairs. The lamplight and the excess of colorful, textured upholstery is cozy-ing up the place. I can't wait to go to work tomorrow and daydream about curling up in my armchair. 

Farmers Market tomorrow ! and happy, photo-filled days to come. 

Thursday, August 6, 2009

11:48 p.m.

My father's wisdom:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Finally in my new apartment.

Finally have the internet (ahh the luxury).

Now I must get used to living at nearly ground-level with nearly ground-level windows. I can't say I want people watching me do yoga poses in my living room. I must invest in attractive, gauzy curtains.