Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Thursday, March 30, 2006

"A whole, instead of a half, slice." ~ Jane Eyre

Recent slices of life since Monday...

~ Mashed green beans hit my face the other evening as well as sprayed my new pinstripe blouse from Lord and Taylor. Perhaps I should have seen it coming. The shaking of the legs in his pleather highchair that indicate the excitement over eating, the wrinkled face above the "I love My Aunt" bib that was disappointed in the taste, and the final closing of the mouth that blocked access between the baby spoonful of mushed vegetable and his pink tongue. Forcing it in with the adage "you have to eat your vegetables" coming out of my mouth, my nephew clearly disagreed. At six month old, he is exceptionally intelligent. The green beans came back my way in an instant, and in the next instant I realized that this is, indeed, the greatest kind of love. An unconditional love where I can laugh as Jack sprays food all over me and I can giggle when Jack burps in my face. Still, I am the aunt and not the mother. She can feed him the green beans next time. I will take the oatmeal and banana shift! Hopefully he will like green peas...

~ "Reilly, come here!" My head is sticking out of the classroom window as my students are silently reading The Sun Also Rises and taking notes on post-its. I had walked over to the windows that face a beautiful courtyard that is manicured by our school's Botany Club. The smell was overpowering as the window rose: it was the smell of flowers. The first spring flowers in the courtyard are fragrant. I called my T.A. over to smell them. At 8am in the morning, she and I have our heads out the window, inhaling the hyacinths. I love hyacinths because they smell like Easter Sunday and make me think of blue colored Easter eggs and blue Peeps.

~ I laughed rather loudly when D.R. told me over the phone that he accidentally packed a black sock in his jacket pocket, thinking it was one in the pair of gloves. Picturing him with a black sock on one hand and a glove on the other makes me smile. Other things about him that make me smile include his loathing of WNPR, his constant eating of Post Maple Pecan Crunch Cereal, and his remote control (or lack thereof it at times). I must keep smiling. Within a month he may be in Iraq. The idea makes me want to cry, but that won't do anyone any good. So I smile, especially when we argue over which is a better news network: CNN or FoxNews. Apparently, one is the "Clinton News Network" and the other is unbiased media. I don't know how Mary Matalin and James Carville do it. I really don't.

~ During my jog this afternoon, I watched children practice baseball in their little league uniforms. I remember being in little league as a child. Robin and I were the only two girls on the team. It was usually my father and grandpa Krikor who came to our games. We had red uniforms and black cleats. I was not a stellar player, but it was always fun to be out there. My favorite memories of baseball were Friday nights as a child. My sisters and I would play wiffleball with the boys across the street until it got dark. Even then, we still played until our parents told us to come inside. My sisters and I never wanted to be inside in the summer. Well, that isn't true. We would want to be inside to watch reruns of "Little House on the Prairie." However, after we were done watching Laura Ingalls fight with Nellie Olson, we were back outside.

~ I saw the ocean for the first time since last summer the other night. Chaz and I were in Long Beach and walked on to the beach together at sunset. The sky was navy blue, save one small line of mixed sherbert. The air smelled salty; I miss the smell of salt in the mist. Although the sun was setting, the moment felt like it was the commencement of something as good as the feeling of the ocean mist on your body on a hot summer day at the beach. I long to go back with him at sunset, sneaking a thermos full of a nice rose in a bag and packing us a homemade picnic of chicken salad sandwiches, pickles, pita chips, and a fruit salad with a splash of amaretto liquor. It would be the quintessential summer night, but not because of the wine and food and ocean and sky. It would be because I was with him.

~ My mother sent me a formal note in the mail telling me that on April 30th there will be a Hokehankisd at the Armenian Church for my Grandpa Krikor, my Grandma Anoush, and my two uncles who died too young. In the Armenian Church, the Hokehankisd is a Requiem. The spring is never an easy time for me. I lost my grandfathers in the spring, and I lost my grandmother. Each time I go to church, I light a candle for all of them. In ancient times, people would pray to their ancestor's memory for hope and guidance. I think there is a validity to this. I donate to the basket and take candles out of the box for all of them. I then place them in the brass holders next to other candles, and say a prayer to bless their souls as I light each one. Der voghormia, Der voghormia, Der voghormia. (Lord have mercy, lord have mercy, lord have mercy.)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

(the Faliaise Pool at Sands Point)
"Spring drew on: she was indeed already come; the frosts of winter had ceased; its snows were melted, its cutting winds ameliorated..." ~ Jane Eyre

As much as I love my city, I decided to dedicate a post to some of the aspects of Long Island that I enjoy in the months of spring. Of course spring in New York City is lovely, but spring on the island is just wondrous. This island is a very special place to be as the months get warmer and as the physical landscape transforms itself back to life once more.

~ The Planting Fields at Oyster Bayarboretumum)
I first visited the planting fields in high school. My English teacher, Faith, set up a lesson there after we read Thoreau's Walden. The assignment was simple: spend a day alone in solitude and be completely one with nature. The trip was in the cool month of November, but it did not matter. The quiet calm of the day has stayed with me even up until this moment.

Since the field trip, I visit the grounds at least half a dozen times per year. I have some very fond memories there with many of my friends, but I also have fond memories of going there by myself for a picnic for one with a book. J.Sarah and I attended a Mostly Mozart concert on the lawn, as well as a Candlelight classical music concert in Coe Hall. There is a beautiful greenhouse that changes each season, and the Rose Gardens in June are breathtaking. The old pool is surrounded by a garden that changes seasonally, and a small cottage is there which served as a playhouse for children. If a volunteer is there, you can go in and take a look at the adorable tea set up inside. Once in a while a bridal party will enter the fields to take photos; indeed, there is something very poetic and romantic about this place. I am looking forward to making picnics this spring to take there, and perhaps this year I will get some tickets for the Mostly Mozart concert on the lawn.

~ Sands Point Preserve
Sands Point Preserve is about a twenty minute drive from me. The preserve is located on Long Island's Gold Coast (the one Fitzgeralimmortalizeses in The Great Gatsby). The homes along the coast are breathtaking - and this is the bay that Billy Joel sings about with passion.

There are four hiking trails set up with various paths on the preserve. My favorite trail is the one with a path on the bay. There are rocks all along the short to climb on and even sit on. The beach itself is rocky and filled with shells, but that is no matter. It actually makes walking the path there easier. There is a museum located at the preserve, and there is also a manor house that has tours. My favorite memories here, however, took place in the fall. Each September the preserve would host a Renaissance festival, complete with jousting tournaments and stands set up with floral crowns for young girls, such as myself, to purchase. My mother was the first one to take me, and I loved each moment there with her. I still remember the crown she got me - with pink and green ribbon. She also got me this beautiful stained-glass rose that I hung on my window in my old house. My mother was my literally my best friend during my middle school years, and we have many nice memories together at places all over Long Island.

~ The North Fork Vineyards
The wine on the North Fork is becoming very popular and even competitive with other wine regions. The wineries out there are open all year round, but many outdoor events, such as live music, begin in the spring months.

Wine tasting on the North Fork has become more popular over the years, but there are still so many wineries and vast spaces at these wineries, that visiting on a busy weekend is not a harrowing experience. Many people go without knowing about the process of tasting or the wines, and those are the people that always end up having the most fun! I, of course, love going and love running through the gamut of the wine tasting experience. The last time I went was with Sil and Kara, and it was such a lovely time. I brought home some great wines, too, including a Pindar Riesling and a dry red blend called "Midnight Seduction" from Galluccio Wineries. Sometimes the wineries hold food festivals as well, but there are plenty of picnic tables or grounds to throw blankets down on for picnics. After doing a winery tour, its always nice to go into the historic town of Greenport as well. Claudio's, a historic restaurant that serves good seafood, used to be a port for bootleggers to smugglinalcoholol in during the prohibition of the 1920's. Its a good thing prohibition ended then and we can enjoy the wineries now.

I honestly want to be married at a vineyard one day...

I know that there are many people who have their favorite "spring spots" which are unique to their home. It is my hope that there are only a few April showers and that everyone can enjoy all of these places in the upcoming weeks...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The east had its own charm or fine deep blue, and its own modest gem, a casino and solitary star..." ~ Jane Eyre

Connie is reading poetry in English class for the next few weeks, so I decided to take advantage of that delicious fact and indulge in some creative writing with her yesterday during our tutor session.

I taught Connie the Shakespearean Sonnet. We went over iambs, rhyme scheme, the couplet, and even did a few rounds of tapping the table to get the rhythm of iambic pentameter into her head. Within a half hour of reading my favorite sonnets (see sonnet 65 sometime and get back to me; its my absolute favorite), I decided to tap into her creative writing skills...

I instructed her to pick her favorite painting. She chose Van Gogh's "Starry Night." I then told her that she has to write a sonnet based on the image of the painting.

She and I worked for over an hour on our sonnets (she asked me to write one as well). She is a talented writer, but even she got frustrated about writing "inside the box." My response to her frustration was simple: "Now do you understand why Shakespeare is a GENIUS?"

Her sonnet is unfinished at the moment, but I told her to finish it for next week's session.

Here is mine...

Pearls of Light by Amy K. (a Shakespearean sonnet based on Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night")

In the sky I see beside the moon
the stars which are the other suns in skies.
Far away in other worlds at noon
they shine throughout the day after they rise.
I sit alone up on the hill and gaze.
The tree beside me juts into the night.
It stretches out its bark as if to raise
its admiration to these pearls which light
the grass blades of another man's pasture.
I long to know if this man is like me,
a man who worries time will go faster
than he is able to live and be free
in a world that oppresses his mind
and leaves such simple beauties hard to find.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"Fetch me now, Jane, a glass of wine from the dining-room..." ~ Jane Eyre

I am hosting a wine-tasting party this weekend!

My desire to know more about wine started last year when I first ate at Otto in the Village. The wine bar there hosted Italian wine tasting classes, and I signed up for a class. I took the class last September - it was a lovely introduction to Italian wines. I went solo, which was exciting to me. At the wine bar, I partnered with a very sweet grad student at NYU who was studying restaurant management. Sadly, I don't remember much about the wines after the whites. The spitoons were high, so it was impossible to spit. The sommelier/instructor was hot, so I was staring at him more than I was listening to him. By the second red, my head was in a wine wonderland. Apologies to J.Sarah and Cassie who met me for lunch afterwards at Otto; my speech was slurring until I had some pizza in me.

This past Christmas, my father gave me the Eyewitness Companion Guide book on Wines of the World. I love my father for so many different reasons, one being that he is always conscientious about what I desire to learn and he promotes the learning by giving me resources. This is the same man who took me to Barnes and Nobles when its first large store opened on Long Island and purchased over $200 worth of books for me, and who took me to the E.W. Public Library every Friday night throughout my childhood and teenage years. These are one of the very many things I thank him for.

The book one wine is a large compendium of each region of the world that produces wine. It details grapes, regions, labels, vintages, etc. There are tons of photos, maps, and guides to wineries all over the world. It is an amazing book, but oh it is daunting to read. There is so much to know. Too much to know. After first reading it during the weekend at the Hershey Spa, I developed a great deal of respect for sommeliers.

One day I would love to go to Napa and tour the wine region there, but I must assert that Long Island has a wonderful wine region located on the North Fork. I love going out there in all seasons except for winter, but even then it is not a bad experience. The wineries are cozy and warm. I am looking forward to heading out there this spring with Chaz. On weekends the wineries have live music, and right now a picnic with wine and jazz sounds like a little sip of heaven.

I went shopping yesterday for the wine tasting party; it was enjoyable and relaxing.

I was able to find some wonderful tablecloths, plates, and napkins which have a wine grape pattern on them. I picked up various cheeses (including a port log - those are so delicious), crackers, flatbreads, mixed nuts, fruits, and some gourmet cookies to go with dessert wine. Of course the main focus of the tasting is the choice of wines.

I decided to go Californian for the wine. Starting with the whites, I have a Papio Chardonnay and and Estrella Pino Grigio. For the reds, I have a Barefoot Cellars Merlot and a Fish Eye Cabernet Sauvignon. I have a Long Island dessert wine from Duck Walk Vineyards: Blueberry Port. I am going to make index cards with information about each wine for my guests.

Cheers to your weekend. I hope you enjoy some wine wherever you are, too.

A Guide For You
http://ottopizzeria.com/ (Lidia's son and Mario Batali own this awesome wine bar and pizzeria)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0756605172/002-1238076-6359221?v=glance&n=283155 (This is the book my father gave me)

http://www.liwines.com/ (This is an excellent guide to Long Island vineyards)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"This routine sufficed for her..." ~ Jane Eyre

My Morning Routine

My eyes open to the sun hitting my golden colored walls, giving me warmth even though I rise to leave the warmth of my bed. I turn towards my nightstand, where my cell phone beeps; its alarm set to 5:45am. From this position, I glance at the Egyptian prints on my walls, wondering what it would be like to be a curator of an art museum instead of an English teacher. I am sure it is more glamorous, so I exhale a deep sigh as my body lifts itself from my bed.

After my hot shower, I wrap myself in a peach terry robe and head into the library. I turn on my desktop computer, coo at the picture of Jack and his apple cheeks on my wallpaper, check my email, and read Chaz's latest blog entry.

Entering the bathroom once again, I twist my curls into banana curls and dry my hair. I always say I want to lay out my clothes the night before work, but that never ends up happening. I go to my closet and look at the assortment of blouses from Ann Taylor loft, pants from the Gap, and blazers from New York and Company, wondering what is best to coordinate this morning. I have certain rules when it comes to clothes. I refuse to wear the color grey after March 1st, I wont wear a skirt to work that is above my knees for reasons that are obvious when it comes to teaching senior boys, and I never wear all black because I find it quite morbid to do so.

After dressing and applying MAC makeup in various shades of taupe, green, and beige, I place my jewelry on. I then grab my tan colored Calvin Klein jacket; its so warm its like wearing a built-in down comforter outside. I grab my Coach attache case, a gift from my sister Missy when I started teaching six years ago, as well as my rose-colored handbag, and head out the door.

Once I hop into the SUV, a new set of the morning routine begins. I make sure the seat warmer is put on immediately, and then I make sure that the radio is turned on to Morning Edition on WNYC. I love the voices of Steve Inskeep and Sotirious Johnson and have confirmed that their faces are as handsome as their voices are. En route to work, I blast the volume of NPR. The drive is about twenty minutes.

Five minutes before I reach the school building, I stop and get my coffee at the bagel store. I know all of the workers behind the counter, so I smile and whoever is next to help me goes to reach for the medium sized coffee, adding three Splendas and skim milk. I will either have a plain mini bagel to go with the coffee or a banana.

Hopping back into the Vue, I relish in the last moments of quiet for the morning. I enter the parking lot into my spot - # 127. A very lucky number indeed. The walk from the car to the door hurts because it is so cold. I get into the building and soak in the heat. Walking down the hallway to my classroom, I say good morning to students who are half-asleep, drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee. Good that they start early, the brain in my coffee-addicted body thinks.

I enter my classroom, room 114, and check the clock. I have about fifteen more minutes to myself. I hang my coat in the closet, get NPR going via the WNYC website, and sit down to listen to more NPR as I check the Times online. I sip my coffee as the noise from the hallway increases, indicating that my class of 28 teenagers shall be arriving shortly. I take a few more sips of coffee, and then the bell rings. The solitude of the morning is officially over, but I am quite content.

The Morning Routine of My Alter Ego, Aimee

I wake up as the sun enters the bedroom, reflecting off of the white walls. It is spring, so the warm breeze enters through the French-shuttered windows in this French cottage, located just outside of Paris. I turn towards my wooden nightstand and grab the novel that sits there, staying in bed for a half hour to read under my blue and white bedspread that looks like a china pattern.

Rising from the bed, I make my way to the white-tiled salle de bains and run a hot bath in a claw-footed tub. I soak for an hour in lavender-scented bath salts. After wrapping myself in a huge yellow terry bathrobe, I go downstairs to my library. I turn on my laptop, coo at the photo of Jacque and his pomme cheeks on my wallpaper, check my email, and read Charles's latest blog entry. I sit for a while more and read the Times online.

I go back into the salle de bains and place my hair into a ponytail. I step into my-walk in closet and grab a pair of jeans and a cream-colored twin-set. I brush some loose powder over my face, champagne eyeshadow over my eyes, mascara on the lashes, and a dab of lipgloss. I grab my Burberry jacket, my helmet, and small black leather backpack and head out the door.

I place the backpack on my shoulders and place the helmet on my head. I mount my VESPA PX 150 in silver and head towards Paris, the Eiffel Tower ahead of me in in the distance.

I arrive to Les Deux Magots on on St. Germain and have thoughts about Hemingway sitting there once. I sit down and order a cafe au lait and les oeufs. After I eat, I order another cafe au lait and take out my journal. I write for a while, and then check the time. I am scheduled to meet mon amie, J.Sarah, at 11am to shop at La Grande Epicerie at the Bon Marche on the Rue de Sevres.

I meet J.Sarah and we start discussing wine, fromage, her Pink VESPA PX 150, and what we are buying today at the market to cook for dinner later on. I decide on quiche with mesclun greens and she decides to make duck confit. I choose a nice Rose and she chooses a dry Sauvignon Blanc. We both eat a chocolate truffle before noon. The solitude of my morning is officially over, and I am quite content.

Monday, March 20, 2006

"The strange novelty by which they were characterised..." ~ Jane Eyre

A few Saturdays ago I implored Chaz to let me pack him some of the peppermint cocoa he enjoys so much. He didn't want me to pack it because he wanted to enjoy it here in my apartment and let it be a novelty; something he just enjoys in a certain moment and in a certain place and should be left that way. (I found that extremely poetic of him.) We started talking more about novelties, and I started thinking about my own...

I love buying magazines before an airplane flight. A whole pile. Gourmet, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living. I don't have any of these as a subscription, but I spend a great deal of money before boarding a plane on them. I stick them in my transverse bag and scrutinize them as the flight attendants hand out mini pretzels and diet coke.

The entire Seder at J.Sarah's is a novelty; one I have been enjoying one night a year for the past twelve years. Although I have grown to love the moment I sit down and open the Haggadah printed in the 70's that has been placed on the clear glass appetizer plate, it is the novelty of the meal that I love, thanks to J.Sarah's mom, Nelle. Her menu: choroset, horseradish, gifiltefish (she assembles it herself), matzoh ball soup, brisket, kugel, and asparagus. Fruit compote and chocolate covered matzoh round out this novelty meal, but the favorite novelty of the night is one you don't eat, but drink: Manischewitz!

I love getting massages, but I don't go as often as I'd like. They are a novelty as well (at least manicures and pedicures are weekly). I either go to the Nordstrom Spa and see Claudia, or head to X Salon to see Lisa. What I love the most is the aromatherapy. The lavender lotion smell is a novelty to me; one I always associate with being pampered. As much as I loved smelling like chocolate during the massage at Hershey, nothing beats the soft scent of lavender. Its relaxing and soothing.

Getting my hair blown out is a novelty. It is impossible to do on my own; the thick, abundant curls never cooperate. Usually in the winter, around holiday time, I go at least once a week and have it straightened. Its so much fun seeing how long my hair actually is, and I like feeling that I look less recognizable to others when its straight. It takes around 40 minutes for Jo to blow it out at X Salon, the time making it even more of a novelty.

Showing movies to my students after reading a novel is a fun novelty. While I prefer teaching the text, once in a while its fun to take a break. I get the kids snack packs on the first day and encourage them to bring more snacks the next day. I try to be creative with movie choices. For example, after teaching Malory's "Le Morte D' Arthur," I showed them Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Hey, its teaching them allusion and satire, right? Ni!

Shopping in Betsey Johnson is a novelty. I have three cocktail dresses, and perhaps if the styles and prices are right (they have been too high lately), I will get a fourth and wear it to Jack's christening in May. Going into a boutique in Soho and trying on dresses as I am being critiqued by sales girls with pink hair, zebra tights, and patent leather Mary Janes is, by far, one amazing novelty experience.

Other novelties I love: drinking irish car bombs, picnics at the Oyster Bay arboretum, smelling Easter lilies, seeing Shakespeare In the Park, eating BBQ ribs, riding a horse, sleeping at a Bed and Breakfast, shopping for either a bridal shower or a baby shower, having sugary cereal, eating a McGriddle from McDonald's, reading the Harry Potter book series, and being in a limousine.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

"And it is a name by which I think it expedient to be called..." ~ Jane Eyre

This Armenian woman has no business to be making gnocci on Sunday, but she making it anyway.

As a novice chef, gnocci is one of those recipes that puts you over the edge of being a good novice chef to a great novice chef. I am anxious and nervous already about the task; this is the SAT exam of cooking for me. I am sure that other novice chefs have their own standards of what recipes make them more masterful of the culinary arts. Some are cooks, others are bakers. Whatever it is in whatever genre of cooking, there is that one dish which challenges us novices.

I wonder what it is for others. For me, it is a mixture of potato and flour.

J. Sarah was a comfort when I told her of my gnocci anxiety last night over sushi dinner.

"Remember, Amy, this is one of those recipes where you need to remember that you are probably going to fall flat on your face the first few times. Gnocci is a dish that probably can't be mastered until you have done it at least a dozen times."

I know she is right. However, deep down I hope that the little potato dumplings I assemble on Sunday will be edible. The danger lies in the flour...too much or too little can ruin the consistency and make the gnocci dough get tossed in the garbage instead of boiling water. If I can't do this simple mixture, how will I ever make manti on my own one day?

(For a general idea, see here: http://www.thegutsygourmet.net/monti.html)

Still, I will take the risk on gnocci. I don't own a potato ricer, and Lidia says I need it for this. So, after my English Department meeting, I will head to Bed, Bath, and Beyond (aka Bed, Bath, and Bananas to J.Sarah's clan) and get my kitchen tool.

I love shopping for kitchen tools. The wishlist in my profile is linked to Williams Sonoma. You name it, I love it and want it. The garlic press, the melon scooper, the new OXO mango pitter. (You can check out new arrivals at WS here: http://ww1.williams-sonoma.com/cat/index.cfm?CID=ctlnewi&src=catcctli%7Cp1%7Crshop%2Fhme Does anyone else out there get excited over batter ladles? Alligator vegetable dicers? Sesame seed and spice toasters?

Once I master the gnocci, I want to make a platter that looked just like the one Tea's mom did when I was a kid: A platter of gnocci in the colors of the Italian flag. Bolognese sauce for the red, Parmesan for the white (or as Chaz pronounces it, "PAWMAASOWN"), and a pesto sauce for the green. Mmmmmm.

Thanks to Chaz and his ever-thoughtful nature, I have Lidia Matticchio Bastianich's cookbook, Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen. We both love her show on PBS, though we joke that she has "man hands." I wonder if that is the secret to her gnocci? I am in trouble if it is. I watched the episode where she makes gnocci twice now, and I want to believe her when she tells me its easy. I hope to make Lidia proud one day. She rocks. She is the only guest on Martha Stewart's show that can instill the fear of God in Martha; Martha becomes Lidia's bitch. It is awesome.

I was talking about names the other night with Chaz. The older I get, the more important my last name is to me. I am no staunch feminist by any means, but why should I have to give up my grandma Krikor's name if I ever get married? One day it will be one of the only things I still carry outwardly of my father, Richard, and my grandpa. I don't want to lose it. I won't. Even if it were another Armenian name, I still won't do it.


If Lidia Matticchio Bastianich can hyphenate her name, I am going to hyphenate mine! :) And if Lidia can make gnocci, I know I can do it too. I don't know when it will be a success, but it will get there. And when its good, you are all invited to my table, as my darling Lidia says!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

"I had read Goldsmith's 'History of Rome'" ~ Jane Eyre

Beware the Ides of March!

Poor Jules. Brutus betrayed him. I would never betray J. Sarah, my best friend, unless she decided to a) become a vegetarian b) stop drinking her signature bitter cocktails like gimlets c) decided to go blond on me d) decided she liked pearls better than diamonds.

That being said, it is probably the 12th anniversary of the note I wrote to her during Dr. Van Wie's AP Euro History Class at Wheatley HS. I am sure it went something like this, and I probably drew a cartoon of Caesar.

Dear Pookie,
Happy Ides of March! Today we celebrate the day that Julius Caesar was knifed in the Senate and chopped up into pieces, thus creating the birth of the Caesar Salad!
I am craving a Caesar salad right about now. Es-tu, J. Sarah?

(*Note - I called her during this blogging and she was thinking about the note, too! Ah, after all these years, great minds think alike. Oh, and once a nerd, always a nerd. We were not normal teenagers, this I know.*)

I am vexed that HBO did not re-air any episodes of ROME this week in honor of Caesar's stabbings. That show is, by far, one of the best shows on HBO. If you have not seen it yet, I encourage you to do so when the show re-airs and when season 2 starts next year. There is something intriguing about this time period, and it amazes me how someone can be a part of pop culture and lived over 2000 years ago. http://www.hbo.com/rome/

I love teaching Shakespeare's Julius Caesar when I have freshman classes. Although its not Shakespeare's best writing, there are some moments where monologues and dialogues capture some great language and passionate ideas about government and leadership. Whilst I shall not delve into how some tout that Bush is a modern-day Caesar (Hi PUKK!), I shall leave you with a a few quotes from the play for you to enjoy today. You may want to peruse these over a Caesar salad:

"Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." - Act I, Scene II

"Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more." - Act II, Scene II

"When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff." - Act III, Sc. II

"Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear;Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come." - Act II, Scene II

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"I felt rather confused..." ~ Jane Eyre

Teaching Hamlet is no easy task.

It's not the language, the structure, or the style. That is cake. The fault, dear Friends, is not in our Elsinore, but our characters in Elsinore.

Take Hamlet, for example. I am supposed to tell my students that he is a fallen hero? Hero? When? Let me tell you something, if my daddy's ghost came back to tell me to avenge his murder, I would be racing to my kitchen to grab my Henkles knife from my knifeblock.

Then we have the ever-fragile Ophelia. Again, if I knew my crazy ex-boyfriend (and there have been a few) killed my daddy, I would be once again racing to my kitchen instead of playing around with cooking herbs like rosemary.

Then we have Gertrude, the blond Danish Queen who can't figure out that her husband was murdered by her brother-in-law. Gertrude needs to head to CVS and get some hair coloring in the shade of "expresso." Maybe that will help her intelligence.

We know Claudius is the antagonist whose intelligence matches Gertrude, which is probably why they married. He had the opportunity to let Hamlet go back to Wittenburg at the beginning of the play and asked that Hamlet stay in Elsinore. Get out your Danish dictionary, friends, and look up the word "moron."

Polonius is a character that I have no issues with. He was written as a windbag, he is a windbag, and I accept him as a windbag. Still, he has the best lines of the play and therefore I do like him. To thine own self be true, as day follows night, thou shalt not be false to any man...
Too bad he didn't practice what he preached and ended up with a foil in his tummy.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are another pair of winners who are complete brown-nosed sellouts. If I were going to cast them in my version of Hamlet, they would be played by Ashton Kutcher and Nick Lachey.

Still, my favorite lines about love come from Hamlet. Hamlet writes a letter to Ophelia telling her how much he adores her. I have known these lines since I was a young girl...

Doubt thou the stars are fire,
doubt that the sun doth move,
doubt truth to be a liar,
but never doubt I love.

I suppose I shouldn't be too harsh on Hamlet. He is a lover, not a fighter. I like a man to be a little of both, since we all know I am a woman who is a bit of both, too.

Hope this took you down memory lane back to the corner of Senior year English and Shakespeare.

I wish you all a good evening. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest...

Monday, March 13, 2006

I have decided to open up the blog for comments! Please feel free to leave comments, ideas, and reactions. Please feel free to share your experiences with mine. My friends, I expect many compliments to Jack on his future posts! :) I can't wait to hear from you. Cheers!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"What do you want?" I asked ~ Jane Eyre

I have everything I need this morning, and every morning for that matter.

On this rainy Sunday morning, I was thinking about things that I want. Not the wants associated with my goals in life, because those wants are what I need to have a great life, but the wants that are deliciously impractical or not conducive to my life at the moment.

There are very few places that are acceptable to be a glutton in, and a blog post is one of them. The only other two places I can think of are Magnolia Bakery and Target.

For a half hour it may be fun to be a daydream believer (that song has been stuck in my head all weekend), so here is my list of wants.

I want Bruce Springsteen to do a private concert for me and Lizzy.

I want a 6 quart Kitchenaid mixer in red.

I want to throw a big tea party for all of my girlfriends and insist they dress in garden party attire (that means hats, ladies).

I want to own a Chanel suit.

I want my wedding reception in the European Sculpture Garden at the MET.

I want a beer named after me.

I want a fireplace.

I want an English Bulldog (I would name him Watson).

I want oriental rugs covering my entire apartment.

I want to own a private beach.

I want my apartment filled with lavender.

I want to have breakfast at Norma's every Saturday morning.

I want Thanksgiving leftovers every Sunday night for dinner.

I want to be a contestant on Project Runway and befriend Santino.

I want to have dinner with George Clooney. (D.R., I don't want to hear it! Have I said anything against that dumb blond you love? Anna Kournikova?)

I want to see my sister, Robin, as a character on General Hospital who gets to play Sonny's love interest. (I think this is her want, but I want what my sisters want!)

I want gasoline to be a penny a gallon.

I want to visit the Hershey Spa four times a year; once each season.

I want to spend a month in Italy in a small town in Tuscany, hiring the Italian Nonnas to each me how to cook northern Italian cuisine.

I want to bitchslap Rachel Ray.

I want another Burberry Coat.

I want Jack to never feel pain in his life.

I want my parents to live forever.

I want to guest star on an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm and do a scene with Larry David.

I want New Orleans to be just as it was when I visited there.

I want a garden.

I want a clawfoot tub.

I want season tickets to Yankee Games in a box next to Steinnie.

I want a house in the Hamptons with a winery for a backyard.

I want to eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches every day for lunch.

I want to become a ballerina as my second career and dance the lead in Swan Lake.

I want to write op-ed pieces for the New York Times.

I want to see the Pyramids in Egypt.

Recipe for today: Dragon Stew?!?

1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 lbs. dragon stew meat, 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp. oil
6 c. hot water
3 pared med. potatoes, 1 inch cubes
1 med. turnip, 1 inch cubes
1 bay leaf
4 carrots, 1 inch cube
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 c. sliced celery, 1 inch pieces
1 med. onion, diced
1 tbsp. salt
2 dragon bouillon cubes
Mix flour, salt and pepper. Coat dragon meat with flour mixture, brown in oil in large skillet. Add water; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 2 hours. Stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Serves 6. NOTE: If dragon meat is difficult to obtain substitute beef.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Gardens are closed until next weekend, so we took Jack to the Roslyn Duck Pond instead!

"But you may have a flower..." ~ Jane Eyre

Yesterday morning I sat on the windowsill in S114, sipping coffee and listening to my brilliant (and I mean brilliant) T.A. Brenda present a lesson on WWI as a means to introduce the next novel I am teaching, The Sun Also Rises.

I peered out the window for a moment, and my eyes became fixated on a perfectly bloomed yellow daffodil. It is the first flower of this spring for me. My classroom windows face a beautiful courtyard that is taken care of by the Botany Club. I stared at the daffodil longer than I should have, while I was hearing about the devastation and destruction of a war.

The Spring has never been an easy time for me. A paradox, for lack of a better term from an English teacher. There is beauty all around outside: new flowers, bright green grass patches, buds on the trees, and pastels decorating homes for Easter.

As this has surrounded me all, pain an devastation has been inside. My two grandfathers and my grandmother died in the spring. I would pass flowers with new buds en route to the Calvary hospice in the Bronx, where two of them died. The last thing I remember doing before my grandfather Krikor's casket was lowered was kissing a red flower and throwing it into his grave; the only time I remember being so hysterical in my life that my father had to take me for a walk in the cemetery away from everyone else.

The most beautiful of relationships ended in the spring; one that filled me with warmth and hope. Driving north to spend the weekend together, I would open the windows and feel the warm breeze on my face; a face that was smiling. I walked towards an Armenian church one afternoon in the warm sun, and when I got there I lit a candle after I looked towards the alter, adorned with flowers. Please let this continue to grow. Please. Let. This. Grow.

Staring at the daffodil yesterday, I felt a surge of energy and inspiration. I know that this spring will be different than all others. It already feels different. There has been so much emotional growth this year, that approaching this season shall be like no other. I took this weekend to myself: no tutoring, no going out, not a thing. It is spring cleaning for the mind, soul, and apartment. Yoga, jogging, scrubbing, washing. A Renaissance weekend...

Oh, and squeezing and hugging, too. This afternoon, I am meeting Missy at Clark Garden. Jack Krikor will be taking a stroll today in a garden for the first time. I cannot wait; an afternoon in the warm sun, looking at flowers and being immune to any kind of pain. There is no paradox here. This is the purity of Spring. This is a pure Spring.

I hope that your spring is beautiful.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

"Entertainment was proposed..." ~ Jane Eyre

I will never forget the Sunday afternoon when Robin and I were about 8 years of age and Missy was 12 years of age and my parents sat us down in front of the television in the living room in E.W. Popcorn was made, chairs were brought in, and the curtains were drawn to give the effect of a movie theatre.

"You have to watch this movie, girls." Both my parents were adamant about this. It was part of our education, according to them. We had no choice; this was how we were spending the afternoon.

A moment later, the theme to Gone With the Wind came on, and for the next three hours, my sisters and I were completely absorbed in Scarlett's world. Why is she attracted to meek old Ashley? Where can I get her dresses? Why didn't I think to ever fake cry like her to get my way? We were still too young to understand all of the nuances, especially when Rhett carries Scarlett up the staircase, but we were not too young to understand that this was movie magic.

It gave my parents pleasure because they were finally sharing a film they loved with their children. And yes, I am sure my sisters and I will do the same. Jack already has a collection of
dvd's all set and waiting for him, including The Sound of Music. My parents gave us a great gift because they exposed us to classic movies, black and whites included. Many of my students don't know who Jimmy Stewart is, but my nephew is going to know!

Robin is the biggest movie buff out of the three of us; she is a big fan of "old Hollywood" and has the biggest dvd collection of great films. Just last week she got the special edition of Ben Hur on dvd, so she gave me the regular copy. How old is the chariot scene? Its still one of the best scenes in a movie; I never tire of it.

Tonight is a small Oscar "party" here at my place. Chinese food, white wine, and Joan Rivers critiquing the gowns. I don't care for all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the awards, but I do care that this is a night where art and culture are honored in our society. I haven't watched the Oscars in years, but tonight I think that the movies and roles being nominated are quite worthy because so may are based on books and/or short stories.

My Oscar hopes ride on the literature, of course. I hope that Philip Seymour Hoffman wins for Capote. That film was powerful for me, and I look forward to seeing it again just to study him as the character. I want Pride and Prejudice to win awards so that Hollywood sees the demand to make movies of timeless stories that are important to tell in all kinds of mediums. Well, that and wouldn't it be cool knowing that Austen's work is Oscar-worthy?! Let Brokeback win for the mere fact that it is controversial, but also based on a great short story by Annie Proulx. The Constant Gardener was my favorite this year, also based on a novel by John Le Carre which was originally published over four years ago.

Literaries of the world unite tonight and root for your books at the Oscars!

Of course, I did read Gone with the Wind as a teenager.

It wasn't quite as good as the movie.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"No crowding," said Mr. Rochester: "take the drawings from my hand as I finish them..."~ Jane Eyre

If I were the curator of the Guggenheim, I would have had a heart attack last night.

That is not to say I didn't enjoy going to First Fridays with Cassie and Alicia. It was a great party, and I thoroughly love the concept. It was amazing to see so many young people pack into the main level of the museum with drinks in hand, dancing to the music spun by a really good DJ. The rotunda was also packed, with many people glancing down to the main level, making many great photo opportunities. A few partygoers started dancing in the rotunda, hence my concern for the artwork! Gawking last night was quite enjoyable.

I actually wish I went during the Russia! exhibit, since the artwork of David Smith didn't excite me all that much. I struck up a conversation with two women while waiting on line for the bathroom, and they, too, go for each exhibit and said that they didn't enjoy the sculptures on display. Some of the pieces were intersting, like "the 17 h's", but overall it was not a thrilling experience. There are two upcoming exhibits that look more interesting. Pollack comes this summer, which I am interested in seeing after my Black Mountain Poetry class. Spanish paintings arrive in the fall; that will be an amazing exhibit and a First Friday in October for certain.

Because of the event-production work I did during college, I thought a great deal about the producers of the event last night. I wondered about the logistics of set up, the deals with the caterers, and the dealings with a very strict security staff. I thought about how their adrenaline must have been pumping up until the doors opened, and then the fatigue of the long day sets in as they try and eradicate any problems during the venue.

Oh, I miss those days. If I were to produce the event, I would gear the First Fridays that occur during the ethnic exhibit months to be ethnic. Vodka shots all around during the Russian exhibit, and pitchers of sangria along with tapas for the upcoming Spanish exhibit. Its because....well....I am just a nerd like that. I then thought about how this party would be great in other cultural venues, even the New York Public Library.

Cheers to all the nerds at the Guggenheim who spend their Friday night last night at a MUSEUM! It reminds me of my college nights when, on occasion, I spent a Friday night studying in the library. Those nights would have been better with a DJ and cocktails, but they still weren't that bad...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

"Is that to make a sacrifice?" ~ Jane Eyre

My grandma Anoush always gave up something for Lent. She never ate meat on Fridays during lent, and, in a strange twist, she ate a great deal of matzoh the few weeks before Easter. Then, during Easter week, she would start preparing the Cheoreg (Armenian Easter bread) and dye eggs with the skins of onions.

I have been pondering the concept of sacrificing since yesterday. In Chapter 37 of Jane Eyre, Rochester tells Jane that she "delights in sacrifice." She retorts that of course she does. I don't know if its fair to judge those who sacrifice things in order to make themselves feel better. The outcome is still the same, is it not? Others in need will benefit somehow. I argue that it should make a person feel good when he or she gives something back to others; isnt that what we call humanity?

Jane Eyre is not a selfless character, nor was my Grandmother. I am not selfless either. I think that we can practice selflessness, but deep down it is important to maintain some selfishness. The older I get, the more I try and give back to others without sacrificing a part of myself; a part that should never be given up. I own that part, I need that part, and no one else deserves that part but myself.

That part is my dignity.

I have learned that I can love someone without being the giver all of the time, especially in romantic relationships. I have learned that I can take a little and it doesnt mean that a person will love me less; it means that the person will respect me more.

I was once told by a man that I was "too good." Maybe.

But I think that statement just means more so that the asinine men who either called me at 3am drunk, jerked my schedule around for dates, whined about petty matters with no real perspective on life, or create a tirade of excuses for inexcusable behavior, really illustrate that they were the ones who lacked dignity.

When it comes to work, I still believe that teachers are to be commended for their sacrifices. I respect my colleagues, and I give myself a pat on the back often. Can you really do my job? It makes me feel good knowing I have a special talent and that this talent is going to influence future generations in a good and positive way. I am fortunate that most of my juniors and seniors this year are good kids. Going to work is selfish of me, because they make me feel good. I think that is a wonderful thing.

On a different note about sacrifice and work, this post may be one of the last D.R. reads for a few months. You are someone I admire because you always maintain your dignity as you make one of the most noble of sacrifices for the greater good. Since day one you have had my utmost respect, and you have taught me so much about passion for protecting the freedom of others. I hope you get in this week; I am praying for it. Hoping and praying are my sacrifices, because I would love to have you around for another two months! HOOAH! You can do it.