As some of you may know, I am a vegan and have been for about four months now. Everybody is always asking me why I would torture myself in such a way so I thought I’d provide some sort of answer and perhaps advice. So let’s begin with my incentives. I did not–I repeat, I did not–decide on veganism because of some silly skinny bitch or cow or whatever the hell it is book. Rather, I started eating vegan after having a history of no meat and a large avoidance of dairy. It was more an official declaring than anything. And I certainly didn’t do so out of some prolonging love for animals! Those of you who know me know how terrible life would be for me without my leather jackets and fur coats! Anyways, this post isn’t about that! It’s, instead, about vegan baking. I’ve never been particularly wonderful at baking, though I’ve certainly always loved it. I’ve recently taken up a few vegan recipes and thought I’d share my success stories. My first adventure was making vegan blueberry waffles with lemon icing, and let’s just say, they turned out superbly! Not only were they absolutely scrumptious, but they were also reasonably healthy, containing only 28 grams of sugar in 4 waffles. My next vegan cooking experience did not turn out quite as well as my first, however. I attempted preparing a capellini dish with a creamed tomato sauce. The sauce looked and tasted delicious, but the pasta–eh, not so much. Perhaps, upon making this supposedly-tasty dish, someone should warn you that capellini, unlike most other pastas, cooks thoroughly in a short two or three minutes, not fifteen. All in all, the pasta was FAR too watery, and my dad ended up making everyone spaghetti with canned tomato sauce instead. I’m happy to say that that was the worst…or at least so far. Next, I made some yummy vegan chocolate chip cookies with Carob Chips. And finally, I perfected my twice-attempted vegan lemon scones with clotted cream. Here are some photos to convey the sheer deliciousness:
As I sit on the couch of my South Carolina lake house, I wonder if perhaps, the irony of my writing a pro-gay rights prose in a state so conservative and so old in thinking is what provoked me to write such a thing. Regardless, I recently saw a documentary on well-known gay activist Vito Russo and decided that I would further voice my pro-gay rights attitude further than being a mere member of the Gay-Straight Alliance club or wearing supportive T-shirts. With the Olympics only days away (if even that), I was curious to see if any of this year’s olympians were openly gay. Up to 18% of Americans are homosexual. There are 530 U.S. Olympians competing in this year’s games. Only three of them are openly gay. Now, I don’t know about you, but even my god-awful math tells me that that doesn’t quite add up. These athletes are chosen to represent our nation, and I, for one, think that try should be representing all of it. And obviously, the athletes chosen are those who are most qualified, but perhaps, gay athletes are scorned out of sports. Just as Russo shows in his book (published in ’85), the media first presented homosexuality as something to be afraid of, and I certainly don’t think that that concept has fully left our world. Sure, our country is becoming more and more accepting of homosexuality and bit by bit furthering gay rights, but the fact that gays weren’t always (and in most states still aren’t) treated equally and given the same rights as every other person in this nation is beyond me. If we’re actually the most forward-thinking country, as everyone seems to think that we are, I say that it’s time we start acting like it.
I have recently come about some spectacular luck. No, I did not win the lottery, nor did I get a book published. Actually, now that I think about it, perhaps this isn’t as spectacular as I thought it to be, but on to the point! I don’t generally watch a lot of TV. Apart from mad men and a few HBO shows, I stay as far away from the thing as possible. Having said that, I have lately been watching movies constantly. I guess it just comes with the sort of vibe at our lake house, seeing as there’s not much else to do once the sun has set–we live in a very remote area. So apart from seeing one of my favorite Woody Allen films (Midnight in Paris) the other night, as I mentioned in my last post, I also just saw another one of my favorites! Being the John Hughes fanatic that I am, when I saw that ‘Say Anything’ was on, I immediately turned it on and told my brother that he would have to go watch Law and Order upstairs. While watching the ever-so-charming movie, I was gently reminded of the cliché but oh so true conception about John Hughes films. That is that every male character from Ferris Bueller to John Bender. And now, I will willingly become a part of this theory. In fact, I support it 150%. I feel as though all I do is complain, but they sure don’t make ’em like they used to. I mean, for all of you lovely ladies reading this (and lovely men too, if that’s your thing), just imagine: John Cusack playing “In Your Eyes” on a boombox outside your window. Or Jake Ryan leaning against his red Porsche 911 waiting for you. And my absolute favorite: John Bender sliding Claire’s diamond earring into his ear after a long hard kiss. All of these men were something. They took chances in order to get the things they wanted. They actually tried. They actually gave a shit. And now? Now, boys–I call them that because they really are not men–can’t even take a girl out on a date. Sure, the motives are the same. After all, boys are boys, but what I don’t understand is how everything in between has somehow disintegrated. Now, I know that this doesn’t apply to all guys. I have confidence, or at least hope, that some of you out there know how to treat a woman, but the vast majority of you don’t. And it’s not even the men that are the real problem. It’s the women. We let guys treat us like this. It wasn’t our idea, but we certainly haven’t done much to stop it. So here I am, the feminist in me reaching out, telling all of you to strive for your Lloyd Dobler or your Andrew Clark.
Last night, for the second time in 24 hours, I wound up watching one of my favorite movies: Midnight in Paris. I wot go on for hours about how incredible the movie is or about how in love I am with Woody Allen and his work, but let’s just say, if you haven’t seen it, go watch it. Now. Like right now. Ah, I digress! Anyways, in this fantastic film, novelist Gil Pender, masterfully played by Owen Wilson, is madly in love with Paris in the 1920’s–the people, the books, the art; everything. His fiancée’s pretentious and rather arrogant friend, Paul, at one point accuses Pender of suffering from something called Golden Age Thinking. Paul defines this contagion as “the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in.” He goes on to say that “it is a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present” and that “nostalgia is denial, denial of the painful present.” Well, in the twenty or so times that I’ve seen Midnight in Paris, I never once thought anything of this scene other than that this so-called awful state of mind defines my very existence. And so, last night when I heard this elaborate explanation, I decided to look further into it. I did what any well-rounded, intelligent, and sophisticated person would do: I googled it. Along with many links to a song called none other than “Golden Age Thinking” by a band called Two Armadillos and an odd, little tumblr, I found it, my shining beacon of hope: an article from the Huffington Post, drawing further detail to this ‘Golden Age Thinking’ concept. The article’s author, Steve Honig, argues that our modern day culture’s lack of Golden Age Thinking and blatant disregard for the past is what has caused us to make the same mistakes time and time again. As much as I agree with Mr. Honig, I must say that I was a bit disappointed in reading his article. Sure, he makes several extremely valid points about our world today, but it was not exactly what I was expecting from a prose about a hopeless romantic’s mentality. There is one particular thought, however, that Stevey and I share, and that is that we nostalgians that “suffer” from this Golden Age Thinking are not incapable of coping with the present. It is merely that we “find the present unsatisfactory, because in many ways, life has become unsatisfactory.” We long for times of the past because they were, indeed, better. There was structure and rules that we now lack. There was enthusiasm and willingness to do things and to meet new people, whereas today, we’re too hidden behind our facebooks and our iPhones to even bother coming out of our rooms. Wow. Only I can turn a post about a wonderful film and its intriguing subject into a complaint about our world today. And I realize that in saying–no, in whining about all this, I am willingly making myself a hypocrite, but there really was something to what seems like prehistoric days before cell phones and media. I’m sure many of you rigidly disagree with me on this and can’t imagine a world without technology, but I suppose one of the few perks about the Internet is that you can make you’re opinions heard, whether that be for better or for worse.
Perhaps, some of your minds jump to that ever-so-popular yet very annoying song from the musical Rent when reading the tile of this post. A mere year and a day ago, I would have too, but unfortunately, this number has taken on far greater meaning for me and my family. For those of you who aren’t math wizzes–and trust me, I’m among you–525,600 is the number of minutes that make up a year. 525,600 minutes ago this morning, I was emerging from my soft blue quilt and temperpedic pillows, worrying about my younger brother Max’s life. For those unfamiliar with this overly-publicized week of my life, I will share with you the story…
On the morning of July 11th, 2011, I awoke at the early hour of six A.M. Why, might you ask, I woke at such an early hour during summer vacation? Well, as always, I had to catch a flight. My brother Ethan and I would first fly into Phoenix to meet up with our mother before flying to Atlanta to go to our lake house. And a short three days after that, I would be flying to Montreal to get on a flight to Kenya with my best friend. I exited our Coronado home about an hour later, ready to go. I quickly said goodbye to my father’s girlfriend and climbed into the car. Twenty minutes later, I was standing in front of Security squeezing my little guy, telling him how much I’d miss him over the next few weeks. I never thought that that would be our last goodbye. Fast forward six hours. Sitting in the car, driving through the rain, I looked down at my blackberry as it buzzed. The screen read ‘Private.’ Knowing it was my father, I quickly answered. As he said my name, I could tell he was panicked and overwhelmed. He told me that Maxie had fallen down the main staircase and went into an immediate coma. He was sitting outside the hospital door. I was shocked, and initially, I thought it was some sort of sick joke. When I realized that what he said had actually happened, I instantly handed the phone to my mom. Ethan and I glared up at her, awaiting the full story. Little did we know, there wouldn’t be one. All anyone knew was that he fell. They didn’t know how or why, only that he did. When my mom hung up with my dad, we pulled over to the side of the road and sat for some time, crying, confused, and stunned. We eventually agreed that we should drive on to our lake house and figure out a plan from there, depending on how serious it was determined to be. I, for one, figured that he’d be fine in a couple of days with just a few bruises to remind him of the accident. And so we waited. The next day, we received another phone call from my father. This time, he sounded optimistic. He told us that they were running a few tests and needed to keep Maxie in a coma to do so. On July 13th, I was awakened by a phone call. It was a friend of mine who was in Coronado. The first thing that I heard was, “are you okay?” When I assured him that I was fine, I confusingly asked him why he would think otherwise. When he told me that there were several ambulances and fire trucks in front of our house, I immediately told him that I had to go and rushed upstairs. What we had collected from various phone calls that someone, we weren’t sure who, but someone had died. The rest of the day was spent in front of the television flipping between news channels where the three days of events were being broadcasted. My father’s girlfriend was found hanging from a balcony that morning. Her death was much later ruled a suicide, but at the time, no one had any idea what had happened. I can’t say that this instance was incredibly significant to me at the time, as I was never very close to her. Obviously, I was saddened to hear about what had happened and to see her go, especially in such a tragic manner, but the only key affect that it had on my life was that my entire family history was now all over the news, not to mention People magazine and te blogging world. The next few days were surreal. I couldn’t even wrap my head around everything that had happened. The 16th of July brings us back to where the story began. At this point, things weren’t looking so hopeful. Even so, I thought the worst case scenario would be that he wound up with a bit of brain damage. Boy, was I wrong. My father called around ten, and despite our hopes and beliefs, he delivered the worst news of all. Maxie’s fall had caused him such severe brain damage that they were not able to wake him from the coma. He would be gone in a matter of hours. I remember sitting there, shocked–no, shocked is an understatement. I didn’t know what to do or how to react. Worst of all, I couldn’t tell anyone, not even my best friends because the whole thing had become so public. People…or rather “friends” were posting on my Facebook wall by the minute, telling me how sorry they were to hear about everything, even before the news about Max was revealed. And sure, I appreciated the sentiment and the concern, but I don’t think any of them truthfully understood how bad it was. I mean, there was really no way to. The media portrayed only bits of the story, most of which weren’t even true. The whole thing was simply overwhelming and outright sad. Both of those adjectives aren’t nearly capable of conveyed how bad it really was.
I’m quite unsure how to end this post, mainly because to me, the story never really will be over. The affect that this has had on my life–on all of our lives–is just enormous, and the memory of Max will never leave our hearts. His memory will live on forever.
For those of you who know me or even those who have merely read my blog title, you probably all realize that I have a bit of a thing for the past. Vintage, antiques, art, even little stories. These are things that I love; things that I never imagined in a million years I’d find in Michigan. On my first night here, my cousin, Nicole, took me to a hip, little town called Royal Oak. Not only did I have a delicious meal at a local gay bar, but I also found the gem of the town: Lost and Found Vintage. The minute I saw the store, I ran inside, ignoring the desires not to from everyone else I was with. I must have spent an hour or two digging through the hundreds of hangers in the store. I tried on everything from a 1960’s pinstriped bra, which I later bought, to torn up 90’s overalls. Just as I had decided on three items (an adorable straw hat, the pinstriped bra, and a cute little sundress), I noticed that there was a men’s section downstairs. What could be better than men’s clothing? Well, vintage men’s clothing. As I rushed down toward the world of band tees and letterman jackets, the a loud voice chimed in, announced that the store was closing in just a short five minutes. Ok, five minutes to dig through these amazing layers of decades of fashion. I can do this…or maybe I can’t? As soon as I made it to about the tenth tee shirt, I realized that there was no way, regardless of how speedy of a shopper I was, that I could find anything in such a brief amount of time. I would have to come back with more time and more money. And so, upon having this disheartening epiphany, I decided to pay and leave before I got locked into the store and stuck sleeping between 30 year-old cowboy boots and vintage Chanel pearls–although, come to think of it, that really wouldn’t be so bad! Fast forward to the next adventure. My second day in Michigan was spent in a mini-van driving up North to Big Bear Lake. At the end of the four hour car ride, I noticed a quaint but ever-so-charming antique shop. I quickly told my cousin that we must make a point of coming back. And so, on our third day there, we did. Although, I hate to admit it, I will sheepishly acknowledge that I do find most of my antiques on eBay. In fact, there have been only a few occasions that I find anything worth while in an actual antique shop. I was determined to make this time different. After spending about forty minutes hunting through faux fur coats and cheap furnishings, I found it. A large stack of my favorite kind of antique was sitting there, just a short three feet away, glistening in the light and awaiting my arrival. Books, books, and more books! I scurried to the pile, peeling open each one, searching for three simple things: the title, the author, and the copyright date. In the midst of looking through old Shakespeare and hundred year-old Dickens, something caught my eye: an old children’s book that my father used to read to me, only this one was almost ten times my age! I picked up the book and added it to the old perfume bottle that I had recently collected, and off to the register I went! When I finally returned to the Detroit area, I begged my cousin to take me back to the Royal Oak area, not only so I could revisit the vintage wonderland but also so I could drop by the record store that I had spotted last time. And so, we did! Once arriving to the cute and familiar town, I noticed a few other shops that I wanted to check out. Three more books, a coffee, and a pair of sunglasses later, I had arrived. I re-entered heaven and went straight to the men’s section. Ten minutes later, I sat debating which of the three letterman jackets to purchase. I finally decided on the royal blue with red lining, paid, and wandered on over to the record store next door. Wow. Just…wow. The store was overwhelming, with it’s tens of rows, it’s contents ranging from 50’s doo-op to modern day indie. I walked down te aisles, thinking, “honey, I’m homee!” and stopped at each of my favorite artists whose records I didn’t already have. Led Zeppelin, Bob Segar, and Elvis Costello accompanied me to the register, as I handed the cashier my twenty dollar bill. I left the town of Royal Oak with a few new friends, a few new stories, and one great freakin’ mood.
I had the pleasure of spending our country’s big day on the lovely island (truthfully peninsula) of Coronado, CA–after all, I am from Scottsdale. One year ago today, I was waking up in my best friend’s bed with a major headache and little recollection of the previous night. A year has passed. I’ve grown older and wiser. And absolutely nothing has changed. I would love to sit here and say that drinking of any kind on such a crucial day to our country is utterly disrespectful and simply rude, but that, my friends, would make me the worst person of all: a hypocrite. I went to the island with the highest of hopes, thinking that this day and this night would top all other celebrations. And now, I am going to say something that some of you may not necessarily like or agree with, but much like our country, the Fourth of July did not at all live up to expectations. Regardless of how disappointing the “joyous” day was, I definitely partied in style. Perhaps, that alone will make up for the letdown that was Independence Day.