Be confident. Hesitation and second thoughts are what cause accidents. – Dad
Don’t drive in heels. – Anne
Watch the people in the cars around you to give you a sense of what they are about to do next. – Brian
Invest in a nice pair of driving gloves. Steering wheels are freezing on cold winter mornings. – Mom
Drive like everyone else is crazy. – Dad
What’s your favorite driving advice?
Blood is thicker than steroidy water.
Many years ago during a visit with family, my great-uncle told us he’d like to make dinner for everyone. On the menu? An extremely spicy stir-fry dish. My mother pulled me aside for a brief discussion prior to the meal. At the time, I was a notoriously picky eater, and she was worried that I would embarrass her at the table in front of our relatives.
“Listen to me,” she hissed. “I don’t care what he makes; I don’t care if you don’t like it. YOU. WILL. EAT. IT. No matter what. Understand?” I understood. And at dinner, I choked the meal down politely, although my mouth was on fire. It’s a well-known if unspoken rule that you should be on your best behavior around extended family, particularly if you don’t see them often. If they give you a birthday present you’ll never use, take you to see a movie you hate, or recommend that you ingest an unidentified substance, who are you to rock the boat? They’re family!
It is thus not difficult for me to appreciate why A-Rod allowed his cousin to inject him with an unidentified substance-he was clearly being polite. To refuse the offer would have been unconscionably rude, not to mention weak, because it would have meant missing out on strength-building steroids. At the very least, Rodriguez would have risked being grounded.
Without a doubt, Alex Rodriguez found himself in a complicated situation with this particular cousin. Still, I understand why he did what he did. Some questions have no easy answers, particularly questions that start with, “Do you want to hit the ball further? Here, give me your butt.”
Really, what was he supposed to say to his cousin that fateful day and then twice a week for three years after that? “What are you injecting into my ass?” Or perhaps, “Some substances are banned by the Major League Baseball Players Association and my career could be ruined if I’m discovered using them, so maybe this is a bad idea?” How would THAT have sounded? Imagine the lack of trust-in his own flesh and blood!-that such a reaction would have implied? It would have broken his mother’s heart to know that she raised the kind of son who would look a gift syringe full of mystery liquid-gift in the mouth.
Why don’t we also insist that Alex tells his Grandma Ethel that he actually hates her Noodle Kugel? How about we make him tell his Aunt Janet that he never wears the snowflake sweater she knitted him for Christmas? How about that? When it comes to standing up to family, where do we draw the line? Alex didn’t know-but can we really blame him?
In a way, A-Rod’s choice was admirable-he chose to follow his family over following the regulations which governed the sport that rewarded him with an extremely successful career. A-Rod knew which side he wanted to be on. After all, you don’t spend Christmas with the Major League Baseball Players Association. And do you think they give a damn about your vacation slides? In a world where it sometimes seems like people will do anything to get ahead, thank you, Alex Rodriguez, for reminding us that family should come first.
Spurred on by this delightful post from Leanne, I’ve been thinking a lot about cooking and eating habits, specifically my curiosity about the food that other people buy and the meals they make.
It seems like a particularly personal, intimate topic; only when you have gotten to know someone very well do you begin to learn much about their eating habits and the groceries they stock their kitchens with. When I am in line at the supermarket, I find myself checking out the items other people are buying and wondering how often they buy them. There are some things Brian and I run out of constantly, like milk, bread, cheese, eggs, and creamer. There are other things we purchase less often, but still like to have on hand because we use them a lot in recipes; onions, garlic, fresh spinach, pasta and olive oil, to name a very few.
It’s made me look back at my eating habits and the things I used to cook often in various stages of my life. In college I used to steal greens and sliced vegetables from the cafeteria and add them to my hot-pot ramen back at the dorm. I made a lot of chicken quesadillas and drank gallons of frozen, canned juice when I lived in Honolulu. When I first moved to Boston I made a lot of those Goya boxes of beans & rice, to which I would add more canned beans, fresh vegetables, and meat when I had it on hand. Now, Brian and I take turns cooking each other large breakfasts on the weekends; scrambled eggs, bacon and egg sandwiches; eggs Benedict and breakfast burritos. For dinner we like to bake frozen pizzas and top them with chicken or vegetables and more cheese to make them more filling.
I sometimes wonder what my friends and coworkers eat at home. Do they dine out at restaurants often? Where are their favorite take-out places? Do they have standard meals they prepare together if they live with significant others; if they live alone, do they cook smaller portions more frequently, or do they make bigger meals for the leftovers? If they have roommates, do they share meals with them, or is everyone on their own in the kitchen? I wonder what their pantries and fridges contain. Do they go through a lot of orange juice? Are their freezers filled with ice, or frozen meals, or frozen vegetables? Do they buy oreos?
I suppose a lot of one’s eating habits as an adult were learned in childhood. At least half of the meals on my rotating list are on there because I ate them all the time growing up. We had sit-down dinners every night; sometimes I wonder how my mother managed to have dinner on the table every evening after working all day. Only now do I realize how impressive that is, and how much preparation and tactical planning-ahead that must have taken.
Cooking and eating is a big part of life, and yet it is a part of life which to me seems shrouded in mystery, even for many of those I am closest to. There are a plethora of cooking-based blogs on the internet, but I’m not interested in the cooking habits of strangers. I feel somehow that knowing what my friends and loved ones do in the kitchen, will help me to know them better.
Dear reader, what are your favorite weekday meals to make? What do you like to cook when you have the leisure time and the money? What are the groceries you buy most often? I’m listening!
President Bush held a brief press conference at the White House this afternoon to introduce what he called “a bold new proposal” that he believes “will greatly simplify and improve the lives of the American people.”
The President prefaced his announcement with a call for understanding.
“We are living in troubled times,” he began. “I have found myself looking to the past to find the strength and inspiration to lead this great country. The modern world has much to learn from the wisdom of olden times. There are many great men of history, in many nations, whose ideas and values remain relevant and useful. ”
The President cleared his throat. “One of these men in particular, an eighteenth-century novelist, wrote an essay whose clear and brilliant message resonates just as strongly today as it did when it was first published in 1729. To his credit, this obscure Irish author has helped lay the framework for what my administration believes is a groundbreaking, yet simple and effective solution to one of the leading evils facing the American people today: the problem of hunger.”
“Listen to me,” President Bush continued. “Due to the failure of our schools to properly teach abstinence, teenage pregnancy rates are soaring, with no end in sight. The threat of overpopulation in this country grows more imminent every day.
“America’s dependence on foreign oil and labor has left us scrambling to meet our basic needs for food and shelter. It’s time we utilized an abundant resource that can be found right here, in most of our very own homes.”
“Children are wonderful,” the President declared. “But we have more than enough of them right now. Let us acknowledge that they are also wholesome and nutritious. Difficult times call for difficult measures, and I think the American people understand what I’m talking about.”
The President went on to describe the tax breaks that would be granted to couples who chose to view their offspring as what he called ‘deliciously non-renewable resources’.
“It is true that these progressive, ‘energy-efficient’ families will be missing out on the economic incentives that are available through our current program, which rewards parents with a $5,000.00 tax credit for each child they raise,” Bush admitted. “However, once the incentives of our new program are in place, parents will be rewarded with a hefty tax cut for making the kinds of practical and intelligent choices that are crucial for survival in the difficult and dog-eat-dog — or man-eat-baby– world of today.”
“Not only that,” he added, “but by offering the American people this choice, I am not only encouraging family togetherness, but also promoting an increase in home-cooked meals.”
“Think about it, my fellow citizens,” he concluded. “I believe that this is going to be a turning point in this history of our country. By looking to the past for inspiration, we are moving forward into a new era of succulence.”
I think my roommate Laura may be right in thinking that Thanksgiving is the best all-around holiday. It’s not confined to any specific religion, and it’s not as stressful as holidays which require any kind of gift giving or country loving. I’ll admit I do know a few vegetarians who aren’t particularly enthusiastic about the whole deal, and it certainly leaves human/turkey relations at an annual low. But unless you’re in the first grade and are forced to make hand turkeys, or put on guilt-absolving pageants where you dress (with as much style and realism as construction paper affords) as Pilgrims and Native Americans who link arms and present each other with dried ears of corn, Thanksgiving has by this point been boiled down to its most basic and delicious element: Eating yourself into a Goddamn Food Coma and then Passing Out on the Couch. The day itself revolves around dinner; its preparation, presentation, and consummation. Traditional recipes are resurrected, winced at, and then dutifully followed, resulting in such all-time family favorites as yams covered in marshmallows, and green beans topped with crunchy onions. (I never said I came from a background of class, just innovation.)
You’re home for just long enough to get a taste of your family without having to settle into a spirit-crushing, role-reassuming routine with them. Hell, you may even enjoy a round or two of Scrabble with the relatives without anyone screaming, knocking the board over, or getting cut out of The Will. This is partly due to the fact that for perhaps ninety percent of the time you spend with your loved ones over Thanksgiving weekend, either everyone’s mouth is full, or a Cuisenart or some other kitchen appliance is working full blast, both of which prevent awkward questions like, “So, do you have a real job yet?” and “You still seeing that Bozo?” Tensions are also reduced by the fact that your visit lasts three or four days at the most before you get to leave again, with an extra bag full of leftovers and your coat pockets full of hot rolls if you’re lucky, or sneaky.
All right. I’ve got to mention that at the moment, I’m so full of food, I don’t really know what I’m saying. I don’t even know where I am. I do know that I’m going to try and keep writing, either until I reach my goal of 500 words, or my stomach bloats past the length of my outstretched arms and I can no longer reach the keyboard. Whichever comes first.
Having just moved to Honolulu the month before, I spent last Thanksgiving visiting a friend of mine at a hippie commune on Maui. We hung out on a black sand beach, hacked through the dense undergrowth with machetes, picked and ate fruit I’d never heard of right off the trees, and a local introduced himself to me while I was using an outdoor shower. It was a pretty hard Thanksgiving to top.
But fortunately, this Thanksgiving, I had cable. And when the blood from the rest of your entire body surges to your stomach, VH1’s Top Fifty Most Awesomely Bad Something-or-Others is a comforting evening companion. That and a reheated piece of pumpkin pie, maybe with a little ice cream on the side.