Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's the deal?

It's been positively ages since I've posted on this blog for some reason. Well, actually it's for the normal reason: I've been stupid busy. And it seems that it'll only get worse: Friday before last I was given what I'm referring to as a pseudo-promotion. What, exactly, does a pseudo-promotion entail? Well, basically a lot more responsibility and work with no title and no more pay. Woo! Gotta love it.

I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed right now - I want to be watching what I eat and exercising more, I need to get to at least three doctors, I have a zine fest to get ready for, I have company coming into town at the end of the month, I still have to figure out how to move out of and then rent out my studio... and, you know, I'm now trying to plan a wedding long distance. And then there's also all of my normal stuff I'd like to keep up with, that I'm clearly not keeping up with, like my Etsy stores and writing and blogging. I simultaneously feel like there's no possible way I can do everything I need to do, and like a weak pitiful failure for even feeling daunted by the task of figuring it all out. I know the answer must lie somewhere in the middleground, as it always does. I'm terrible at finding middlegrounds.

It's rapidly approaching 11pm, and I need to get myself to bed. Yes, really. One crucial element to getting things done when life is crazy is to get enough sleep; another is to start early. Tonight and tomorrow I intend to do both.

Of course, you know what they say about good intentions.

And yet somehow, I'm still not wearing a ring.

Yeah, we're still planning a wedding in New Orleans. Jonathan doesn't seem to be heding away from this one; I think this is the right idea. I hope.

Plans are pretty much in full swing, actually, to the extent that this version of the wedding event this far out can be planned. My mother did really go out to the park last Tuesday and put down cash on the barrelhead to reserve us the Peristyle. I use the term "reserve" loosely, of course; it's not as if the park is going to do anything to indicate to anyone that the space is being used for an event on that given Saturday. It simply means that we have the right to tell people to scat should they get in the way, and that if they won't we can call park security... who will show up eventually, I'm sure.

We're looking at photographers, and we think we've settled on Marc Pagani Photography. This item is the biggest outlay by far, so we want someone really good. We'll probably actually be using his top associate, Scott Myers, rather than Marc himself.

I've redesigned the invitations, and I've been looking for printers. For whatever reason, the girl that I'd been using before has completely flaked on me. And truth be told, she was always a little bit flaky. Well, I'm not going to beg anyone to let me pay them a few hundred bucks, so the search began anew. I'm excited about the new potential printer I've found - she's a zine maker! Anyway, more on that if it evolves into a real deal.

As far as the save-the-dates, those of course have been redesigned as well. I've ordered a rubber stamp with the design; we'll see how that turns out. It may or may not be acceptable. Hopefully it is, and I can "print" them myself on the billions of 3.5" x 5" cards that I've already bought.

We've emailed a limo company in New Orleans; they never wrote back so I s'pose I'll have to call them. We want the '56 Bentley. Just for me and Jon, and just for us to arrive to the ceremony in and leave from the ceremony in... and maybe, just maybe, arrive to the party in, depending on price. Who knows; maybe it's worth it to have a driver for the day.

As far as food, there's only so much we can figure out ten months in advance. We're not having caterers, and we have a good idea of what restaurants we'd like to get trays of food from. The big things left to figure out are where we can get vegan dessert items, if we can get a vegan cake, and where to have lunch after the ceremony. These things will largely be addressed when we're in town in August.

So, uh, what's left? Well there's flowers. My mom cares about them, apparently. She wants to decorate the house. I told her power to ya; use ranunculus and dogwood, cuz those are our flowers. She asked about my bouquet, and I told her that I'd already ordered it - because it's silk. I think she tried to jump through the phone. "Silk!?" Yes mother dear, and what ever are the ladies at the country club to think? Why they'll be aghast, simply aghast...

And then there's the minister, or as Jon likes to say the preacher. The more I think about it the more I know that, since the ceremony will only involve the tiny group of us, it's not going to feel "real" to me if we don't have it done by a "real" minister. We've found one guy who will do it for about two hundred bucks. No problem, says I. I'm going to look around for a minute for other officiants though, just to see what's out there really.

Oh, and then there's the dress. I've got my eye on one from Aria - they finally started doing a ball gown style and it's just to die for. I may be heading down to DC in July to hit up the showroom and see how these dresses look on me, as opposed to the size zero models on the website. But I can't make any decisions, because I've promised mommy dearest that we'll go shopping together when I come down in August. Thankfully, my darling Monica may be coming to town at the same time and able to join us. Either way, I'm going to need a stiff drink afterward.

The rings? We been done havin' those. There's Jonathan's suit, but that's his deal. He'll worry about it when he sees fit.

So yeah, I guess that's the big stuff. There are, of course, a thousand and one details. Where will we set up food at my parents' house, and where will the guest book go? Oh, right, and what the hell am I doing for a guest book? I've got some ideas, but they haven't really gelled. And then, what about the out-of-towners? Gotta find a hotel to suggest. Can I get a good rate for them? Am I making gift baskets? Do I need to make map cards so they know how to get to the party?

The more I think about it, the more this doesn't feel like a small wedding at all. But then, is any wedding ever really small? I mean, it always ends up with two people getting married, right? Which if it's being done for any of the right reasons is always fairly huge.

I'm having a pessimistic day today, in general. So all I can think about the wedding is that I want more to be established, and that my hands are tied in having any more details set until the date is nearer. I'm also being utterly plagued by the feeling that, well, I've done this all before... and that it didn't go so well that time. Need I tell you that it's not a good feeling?

I keep having the urge to talk to my mom. I've been fighting it down, because she makes me feel worse about five times more often than she makes me feel better. Right now she's excited and happy about the wedding plans, and if I brought all this doubt and fear and frustration to her I feel like I'd just be tainting the well. My relationship with my parents is too fragile, not to mention too crucial to this event now, for me to risk it. But... but... she's my mom. If you can't talk about your wedding fears with your mom, who can you talk to? I guess this is why I have a therapist.

The stupid truth of all of this is that I shouldn't even be thinking about the wedding right now. I am quite limited in what more I decide for this thing, at least until our trip in August, on top of which I have approximately a million other things I should be paying attention to. Work is insane, both of my Etsy shops are languishing, and I just signed up to table at a zine fest in less than a month - not to mention that we haven't finished unpacking, we still need to buy furniture, and I haven't really addressed needing to move out of my studio and get it rented. And yet, I can't seem to put down the bridal fever. It's like a disease. Oddly, despite its level of complication, thinking about the wedding is easier than dealing with some other things that are going on.

And finally: green dress or blue dress? Please submit your vote via comments.

What's the deal?

It's been positively ages since I've posted on this blog for some reason. Well, actually it's for the normal reason: I've been stupid busy. And it seems that it'll only get worse: Friday before last I was given what I'm referring to as a pseudo-promotion. What, exactly, does a pseudo-promotion entail? Well, basically a lot more responsibility and work with no title and no more pay. Woo! Gotta love it.

I'm feeling pretty overwhelmed right now - I want to be watching what I eat and exercising more, I need to get to at least three doctors, I have a zine fest to get ready for, I have company coming into town at the end of the month, I still have to figure out how to move out of and then rent out my studio... and, you know, I'm now trying to plan a wedding long distance. And then there's also all of my normal stuff I'd like to keep up with, that I'm clearly not keeping up with, like my Etsy stores and writing and blogging. I simultaneously feel like there's no possible way I can do everything I need to do, and like a weak pitiful failure for even feeling daunted by the task of figuring it all out. I know the answer must lie somewhere in the middleground, as it always does. I'm terrible at finding middlegrounds.

It's rapidly approaching 11pm, and I need to get myself to bed. Yes, really. One crucial element to getting things done when life is crazy is to get enough sleep; another is to start early. Tonight and tomorrow I intend to do both.

Of course, you know what they say about good intentions.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How *do* two vegans get married? They do it in New Orleans, apparently.

Yeah, really. When they're us, anyway. Luckily for the world, very few people are quite as discombobulated as we are - it took us over a year to realize that we should just get hitched in the closest thing I have to a home town.

This does not seem to be yet another far fetched dream or pie in the sky plan on my part - I believe this one to be both fo-real and mutual - that is, both me and my intended feel that it's a good plan. And when it comes to weddings, believe me when I tell you that mutual really is the best way.

So what is this crazy new plan of ours? It's pretty simple - simple being another good feature of weddings, I've discovered. I believe I outlined it in my last post maybe. The two of us, our two sets of parents and my sister, our two witnesses, and possibly an official officiant will do a short ceremony somewhere in City Park. Where in City Park? We're hoping for the Peristyle; I'm sending my ma over there next week to try to secure it. The park staff is wildly unhelpful and you can't do pretty much anything over the phone or internet; you have to show up, money in hand in full, to reserve.

And what, you ask, is the Peristyle? My grandpa's band used to play for dances there, I used to call it the lion pavilion, and it looks like this.




It's a large structure bordered by water on one side, which makes it somewhat hard to get a good shot of. I'm going to try to get my own pictures when we go down in August. (Yeah, we're going to New Orleans in August - what of it?) But you get the idea. Big ol' pretty ol' neo-classical dancing pavilion, guarded by giant stone lions, built in 1907. In my opinion, freaking awesome. Rental for a whole day? $475 plus a refundable $100 trash deposit. A-yup.

So yeah. Short ceremony with very small intimate group hopefully at the peristyle (it has a roof!), definitely somewhere in the park; then the same small group will travel to a lunch/brunch type meal. Me and Jonathan are probably going to rent a fancy vintage limo! Yeah, like a Bentley or something. Because now we'll be in a city where we need cars, and how weird does it feel to get married and then drive yourselves away in a rental Toyota Corolla? Anti-climactic, no? So we'll probably hire us a fancy and/or schmancy car, just to take us to the ceremony, from the ceremony to the brunch, and then from there back to the hotel. We deserve a little frill, don't we?

Alright, so where will we have this lunch/brunch? Here comes the first in what is sure to be a very long line of "what the hell are the vegans to eat in the city of meat and seafood" questions. Yes, there is now an all-vegetarian restaurant in New Orleans. Will it still be open next March? Well, I definitely hope so. Can I plan on it? Probably not. No offense to them; just that restaurants flicker in and out faster than lightbulbs in that town. I'm also not sure what the place is like, or whether they can even seat a group of ten. I know the space, and it's somewhat small and convoluted.

It will likely end up being a situation where we convince some very-non-vegetarian restaurant ahead of time that it's worth making two vegan meals for the party of ten. Fun! Will I try to convince them to make us all a special vegan (or at least vegetarian) brunch? Yes, yes I will. Let's just say I'm not holding my breath.

Then we, uh, rest. Jonathan and I will need some quality time to ourselves to digest the whole "we're now husband and wife" thing... and to be the hell away from our parents. There's a threshold, you know. I'll likely also need a minute out of my fancy dress and shoes. Because yes, there will be fancy dress. And yes, there will be fancy shoes. And yes, I'll choose the most comfortable of these items that I can that still allow me to look fabulous. And no, it won't make a damn bit of difference, because heels are heels, and after about two hours you have to take those f*ckers off!

And then, in the eveningtime, the party. Before I discussed this plan with my parents yesterday, I'd been possessed with an idea that truly surprised me when I had it: to have the party at their house. For those of you who don't know me, you just have no concept of how weird that is. Just trust me, we're talking twilight zone, outer limits stuff here. Well, when I got on the phone with mama yesterday morning she suggested it before I could even ask. (Whew.) So it will be - party at the folks'.

This will not be any kind of huge party. It's just so that we can invite some friends, and my mom can invite some family (and some friends). For this portion of the day, food will be much easier to control. We won't be doing any kind of sit down dinner - there will be plenty of food, but just trays of it everywhere. For that, we really hope the vegetarian restaurant is still open and still offering catering trays! We'll probably also get some nice bits from Mona's, my favorite middle eastern restaurant in the world. Best babaganouj and grape leaves evah, here I come.

The main problem we run into is dessert - the only possibilities for vegan baked goods are 1) Whole Foods or 2) baking them ourselves. I may enlist my darling friends Thomas and Roseann to attempt the latter with some awesome cupcakes; both have shown some success in that realm. And I can probably get some awesome cookies ordered from various Vegan Etsy team members. Cake, though, is another matter. I don't want to tie myself into doing anything that involved or time-intensive as I'll be rather busy and stressed. I'm also not thrilled about the idea of supporting Whole Foods - part of why I'm excited about the New Orleans plan is that I love the idea of putting some money into the local businesses there. But there's still plenty of time to decide what to do; we can always explore options during the August visit.

So, anyway, we'll decorate my parents' backyard will all that crap I'd already bought to decorate The Foundry with - I have string lights and votive candles galore. It's a gorgeous backyard - it doesn't need much help. My mom has a friend who apparently knows about florals - I've told her my flowers are ranunculus and dogwood. Dogwood, yes, is the new wedding flower - a nod to Jonathan's Virginia-ness, and the fact that I love them (and have them tattooed all over me). Mom doesn't know about the tattoos yet. She'll find out soon enough.

And that's it. A ceremony, a brunch, a party. A wedding day. Depending on various factors like the hotel we stay in, what we decide about what to wear, how much liquor we decide we need, and so on, the total bill will fall somewhere between $5 and $10k, and my parents are so damn excited that we've decided to do it on their turf that it sounds like they'll be footing the majority. We haven't broken it to Jon's parents yet; they're actually not in the country at the moment. We think they'll be happy though; New Orleans is much more their pace than New York is, and I don't think they understood the money we were looking at trying to do things here. They'll just be happing that we're really for truly doing it - a point that was a bit fuzzy for a while there, to say the least.

It's all so much more reasonable and so much less stressful than what we'd tried to do here in NYC. I love this town, but damn, it ain't cheap. I'd love to do something this small and laid back here, but it's not really feasible in a place with no family, no friends that own houses, no nothing. This is more or less "plan 2", the Central Park plus dinner plan, plus a nice party for us. It's the 'nice party' part that makes it feel like a real event, and the part that we couldn't swing here without a very significant layout.

We're excited about the new plan. Yep, we. As in both of us. I called my parents and told them all about it because Jonathan told me to. How ya like that? (I like it plenty.) Until I started thinking of a New Orleans wedding, I had no idea how meaningful it would be to me. But once I allowed the possibility, it was as if the flood gates had been opened. (Pardon the pun, but hey, I'm allowed.) The best part? We get to keep the old date, good ol' March 20th, 2010, the vernal equinox - which means we can still used the match boxes we had printed! This, also, is something that Jonathan figured out. I do love that boy so.

Someone on our block plays piano, and someone on our block apparently plays clarinet. It may or may not be the same someone. I'm not talking kids practicing here; I'm talking about professional adult playing. I turned off my music so as to better listen to the clarinet practicing "flight of the bumble bee" that's going on this evening. This is what has replaced the karaoke parties and endless child's practice on the recorder of "hot cross buns" from our old building.

Yes loves, things are good.

But ah, life it is the unpredictableness. So I'll evoke my old plea: keep your fingers crossed for us?

I know I haven't told you much lately.

And I'm still not going to tell you much. But I am going to tell you that I love this song, and that you should listen to it.

Luscious Jackson - To Sir With Love


Found at bee mp3 search engine


So there ya go.

I'm not sure if it will work, but we'll give it a try.

Monday, May 18, 2009

76 Pea Pods at the Big Parade...

What's right with this picture?



Everything! The Second Annual Veggie Pride Parade in NYC happened yesterday. I went! I saw! I took too many pictures! And I blogged it all, of course.

You'll find the post - where else? - on the Vegan Etsy blog. Enjoy, and leave a comment! Hearts.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Don't talk back to Darth Vader; he'll getcha.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Eat this, not that, and have a heart attack anyway because it's still junk food.

If you're hell bent on eating nothing but total and utter crap, boy have I got the books for you! They're called "Eat This, Not That", and they're some of the more recent in a long line of "diet" books that sell very well because they tell people what people want to hear.

And what is it, pray tell, that people want to hear? In a nutshell: "Don't stop eating junk food. And for the love of god, don't get off that couch at night! To be completely healthy, supermodel thin, and sexy/handsome, all you have to do is make this one teeny tiny insignificant change that you won't even notice (like eating this fast food burger instead of that fast food burger, or taking this new BREAKTHROUGH pill). It's that simple! Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?!"

And of course, it is.

The "Eat This, Not That" series basically works with the premise that the general public (and let's face it, the primarily overweight adult population of the United States) just isn't going to stop hitting up the McDonald's a few times a week. So why not tell them what the better options are there? And honestly when seen in that light they've kind of got a point. It's very hard to convince adults to change their habits. Even when they don't want to, people find themselves falling over and over again back into old bad eating habits - out of familiarity and comfort, out of convenience, or simply because it tastes good. So why not at least give them a little bit of education on how to get that burger fix with the least net damage?

Well, in my mind the problem even just from the single "personal health" perspective, which is the only narrow channel we seem to be traveling here, is twofold. First, it allows people to think that they really don't need to make a genuine change in their diets. And loves? If your diets predominately feature the high fat, high sugar, high cholesterol, uberprocessed foods featured in these books, YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR DIET. Period. Not a swap of one burger for the other. Perhaps try a swap of a fast food burger for some whole grains and raw vegetables once in a while! That might affect a real change... but it doesn't sell a whole lot of books.

The second problem I can see is that even if the "that" choice is technically a "better" choice than the "this" - well, as I am so fond of saying, better is not the same as good. Bottom line? Anything that you choose at a fast food restaurant is unhealthy. It is not possible to make a good choice there. They do not sell food. They sell processed foodproducts. Fast food is to real food what cheeze-in-a-can is to smoked gouda. Not only is it not real food, but it's fake food so packed with fat, sugar, and salt that the companies who sell it are terrified for you to get ahold of their nutrition facts.

Now you're going to ask me about the salads. And our conversation is going to go like this.

"Well, did you order the salad?"

"No."

"Do you ever order the salads?"

"Um, No. But what if I did though? That's raw vegetables. It's salad! It's healthy!"

"Well, under the theoretical proposition that you would ever order one of the salads, would you put the dressing on it?"

"Of course. Salad without dressing is gross."

"Well then calorie, sugar, and fat wise, you might as well ordered a burger." (Southwest Salad with grilled chicken - because remember, grilled = healthy, plus one 1.5 oz serving of ranch dressing: 490 cal, 24g fat, 15g sugar. Quarter pounder with cheese? 510 cal, 26g fat, 9g sugar. Quarter pounder, no cheese? 410 cal, 19g fat, 8g sugar... 80 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 7 grams of sugar less than the "healthy" salad.)

"...Oh. But it's still raw vegetables though."

"Yes, but they're the very worst kind. They were grown 'conventionally' - that is, covered in pesticides from the time they were seedlings, or even before. Then they were picked long before they were ready to be eaten, and in the case of tomatoes they were ripened with gases after being shipped an average of 3000 or so miles. The longer the timespan between when a vegetable is picked and when you eat it, the less nutritional value it has left... and the vegetables in those salads are three weeks old or older by the time you'd get to eat them."

"But salads are healthy."

"I give up."

"So is yogurt. Yogurt has probiotics. They have yogurt parfaits; those must be healthy."

"Oh dear god. I have to go."

(I later send you an email explaining that introducing salads to the menu has caused a boost in sales for fast food joints like McDonalds - not because they're actually selling salads, but because since there are "healthy" options on the menu there's less of a stigma about going, despite the fact that once customers are through the doors they're still going to order a burger and fries. I also explain that the "probiotic" effects of yogurt are non-existent in the cheap, sugar-laden variety used by fast food joints, and that if you add granola (and you do, don't you?) there's just as much fat and sugar in those "healthy" yogurt parfaits as in a sundae. They're listed in desserts for a reason. I spare you the lecture on how cow's milk is a great food - for baby cows! - because you're not interested in that.)

But back to my original rant. Do I kind of hate the "Eat This, Not That" series? Yes, yes I do. Because they come from the same mentality that says, "I'm an environmentalist - I'm saving the planet because I changed my lightbulbs! I'm done, that's all I have to do!" It's practically a movement at this point, this belief that we can make real change in ourselves or in the world without actually doing anything differently at all.

Marion Nestle, Doctor of Nutrition and Public Health at NYU, seems to agree with me on this issue. In a recent response to questions from Eating Liberally regarding Oprah's endorsement of the KFC grilled chicken meal, she had the following to say:
Is a better junk food a good choice? Some would say that small nutritional improvements multiplied over an entire population will make an important difference to health. This is the philosophy behind shaving milligrams of sugar off of kids' breakfast cereals or adding a gram of fiber here and there.

But others, and I count myself among them, worry that such small changes merely create a "health aura"--the illusion that anything eaten in the vicinity of something healthful is automatically healthful too.

The reality is this: if you are overweight and/or unhealthy, eating the standard American diet, and leading a sedentary lifestlyle, eating "this" instead of "that" may let you cut a few calories here and there. But in the long run it will not help you. In fact, buying into that mindset will hurt you, because as long as you do you will never make the real changes in your life that are necessary (yes, necessary) in order to become healthier.

And no, I'm probably never going to sell many books, because I'm not really about telling people what they want to hear.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A brief update.

It's been a minute huh? Well I'm already late to work, so there's no use in hauling ass now. So here's the abbreviated rundown:

-finished getting everything out of the old apartment, gave back the keys (finally!) last Friday

-still have LOTS of unpacking to do... some of which can't be done until we buy some more furniture

-still have to figure out what to do about my studio... anyone want to rent a lovely studio in long island city?

-on Sunday early morning, headed out to freaking DELAWARE to help my attorneys with their first day of our new trial which started Monday. It was a crazy 36 or so hours; came home on the train last night. Napped all the way back, which was the first time I'd had a moment's peace really. Sunday I worked from noon till 11pm... eyeah.

And now it's now. I'm exhausted, which is why I'm running slow, which is why I'm not going to be at work until 9:30... or later. But the thing is, I wouldn't be surprised if I'm there until 10pm... or later.

Speaking of which, I gotta go.