Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"Wipe away the trickling gore..." ~ Jane Eyre

Readers, forgive me.

The hour is late, and it is just about the 8th hour of today's 24 that I am working on my Edgar Allan Poe unit. With inspiration from Marty, I have decided to start off my American Lit classes this year with a unit on Poe's poetry and prose.

Reading Poe's poems and prose got me thinking about a great artist named Edward Gorey. Am I sounding precocious when I say I loved watching Mystery on PBS as a kid because Gorey did the introduction for the show with animation of his sinister characters and morbid scenarios? My favorite pieces were always with Helen Mirren.

Please know I mean this trite post with only one intent: to parallel something already created and created in jest. By no means do I wish anyone harm, and by no means do I have intentions to fall down the stairs a la Scarlett O'Hara.

Hence, I hope you enjoy my homage to Edgar Allan Poe, Edward Gorey, and, well, all of you! I had to move some letters around to fit names. There are many an inside joke, so I hope this brings a smile. if I left someone out, please forgive me. Oh, and if I put you in, please forgive me, too!

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs.
B is for Boneman whose femurs shattered in pairs.

C is for Cora who was bitten by a rabid dog.
D is for Darius who was struck with a Lincoln log.

E is for Emily who became entangled in yarn.
F is for Freya who smacked her muzzle into the barn.

G is for the Girl named Kels who slipped on a candy dish.
H is for Heather at the beach who was stung by a jellyfish.

I is for incredible Shaumi who fell into the very hot sauna.
J is for Josephine who tripped on her newly watered lawn-a.

K is for K9 who was attacked by a big bobcat.
L is for Lady Wordsmith who was silenced by a bat.

M is for Marty who was attacked by her action figure set.
N is for Naked Manatee who got caught in a fishing net.

O is for the oratory Bird who crashed into the street.
P is for the Pukk who choked on buckwheat.

Q is for Question Girl who fell into the muck.
R is for is for Ryane who was preyed on by a duck.

S is for Seskel who drowned in the butter of a peanut.
T is for Thoughtsgalore whose poisoned coffee caused her eyes to shut.

U is for the uberfoodie Kate who bit too hard into a shark's fin.
V is for vivacious Auto who fell into the trash bin.

W is for wonderful Lynn who was buried under too many new clothes.
X is for X. Dell who was abducted by UFO's.

Y is for the young Popsicle Toes who stepped into quicksand.
Z is for the zesty Work in Progress who had a fight with her wedding band.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"And this morning, the porridge was not burnt..." ~ Jane Eyre

Its the kind of Sunday morning where the grey sky and rain patters should inspire you to go back to sleep, but you rise at 7am regardless, throwing on grey sweats and a grey hoodie in order to be somewhat presentable to the two Indian men at the corner smoke shop who you see every Sunday morning when you purchase The New York Times and a $2 scratch-n-win lottery ticket. The two brothers are still half asleep at this hour, so your regular discussions about your shared love of Indian cuisine, such as tandoori chicken and curried vegetables, do not happen today. Instead, you grab the thick paper and one of the brothers comments on how heavy it is today. You know this already and have been eager for this morning's paper because in it is The Fall Fashion of the Times. Its the kind of Sunday morning where you are a little depressed making coffee because you think about drinking chicory coffee in New Orleans back in 2004 with your best friend and now you wonder if Cafe du Monde, though open, will ever have the same feel to it as it did when you scarfed down beignets which led to the outer corners of your mouth being covered in powdered sugar. Its so early that NPR has not even started their Weekend Edition, instead there is baroque music on. You light a green tea scented candle and throw yourself on your couch in your library and begin digging into the paper, fingertips blackened already just from flipping the main section's pages. By the time you get to the magazine, you are depressed all over again since their is a photojournalism piece on the child victims/survivors of Katrina and you begin to worry about one of the completely fractured parts of their lives: their education. This reminds you that you still have not solidified the final syllabi for your courses which start a week from this Wednesday, and only half of you cares because you know, from experience, that half of your kids will take the Sparknotes route anyway because they can't be bothered. Its the kind of morning where you boil some eggs for an egg salad sandwich this afternoon, thrilled that a 1/4 cup of egg salad made with non-fat mayo is low points on the Weight Watchers scale. Diligence is key, especially after looking at the models in the Fashion of the Times and trying to accept that skinny jeans and leggings are back in style. You won't be wearing either, because its the kind of morning where you remind yourself that at your lowest weight, you still have hips. The new "It" girls of the Middle East featured in today's magazine also have hips, so you feel a little more validated being that you are Armenian. Its the kind of morning that is rare for a Sunday in August, wet and a bit cold, so you become inspired to roast chicken for dinner tonight along with baked potatoes and green beans. Though it feels like football could be on, you check the schedule on the YES Network and hope the Yanks win today against the Angels and Boston loses to Seattle. Six ahead is a nice, even number. Its the kind of morning where you have no intention of changing out of your sweats and white tank anytime in the near afternoon, and you continue reading the Travel section of the paper which highlights the real Bali Hai, a place you will always revere because it inspired the song "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair." Its the kind of morning where you pull your thick, dark curls into a pile on your head, clasped with two long, black chopsticks, and contemplate taking an afternoon nap because you woke up so early...

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"Let her go..." ~ Jane Eyre

One of the hardest aspects of the days at the end of August is letting summer go. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in an eternal summer spot, such as Key West, but then I feel a pang when I think of all the joys the other seasons give me. Still, letting go of summer is hard on the heart for many reasons. Here are mine...

~ Peaches: There is no better fruit in the summertime than the peach. I like them when they are just a tad overripe because that ensures a real juicy mess when you bite into it. I had one on the beach the other day and just let the juice slide right down my chin since I knew I would be swimming in the water momentarily; the peach inspires a pleasure for messiness. I also love sucking on the pit for a little while after I am done eating the flesh of the peach.

~ Sand: Jack has had two visits to the beach so far and has hated the sand. I think his skin is just so soft right now that the sand irritates him too much. Still, I know he will grow to love sandy beaches just like his family does. I love digging my toes into the sand when I sit on the beach in my popsicle beach chair. It is soothing to the bottom of my feet and I do love the clamminess of the wet sand by the shore and how it surrounds my entire foot after a wave comes in. The other day there were very tiny mussels digging into the sand; it totally fascinated me and I poked at them like some kid. I become quite inspired to try and go clam digging/mussel digging next summer out east.

~ Weber Grill: I hate covering up my charcoal Weber at the end of September with a thick green covering and then placing it on the side of the house. So many great meals are made on it in the summertime, including Shish Kebab, and the smell of charcoal burning is comforting to me. I miss grilling in general when the summertime has ended. Just last night Ed made lobster on the barby for dinner; it was the perfect texture and the spindles had a great grill flavor to them.

~ Flip Flops: I admit I have a few pairs to many, but I live in them for the most part during the days of summer. My favorite pair this summer was from Ann Taylor Loft: a sea green with butterflies on the sole. It is always an awkward moment for my feet when I place boots on in the Fall.

~ Rose: I don't drink Rose except for the summertime. Two nights ago when I dined with J.Sarah, her mother, and her brother at OTTO, I had the Bastianich Rose. It was so crisp and delicious with a darkish pink hue to it. I made the Rose sangria twice and hope to make it once more before Labor Day Weekend is over. Ironically, I drank more Rose than I did my usual summer wine: chardonnay on the rocks with a shot of peach schnapps.

~ Soleil: I admit that I am a sun worshipper and bow down to Ra. I can sit in the sun all day slathered in sunblock and never be unhappy. Shade is overrated when its not humid. I think the sun is the hardest thing to let go of in the summer for purely scientific reasons based on the chemicals in the body and the UV rays.

~ The Times: I read The Times each Sunday morning, but once I go back to work, it becomes a rush job. The process of reading it outside all morning and half the afternoon while slurping iced coffee shall soon be on hold until next July. Now, its going to be just mornings with work waiting after the read.

Other aspects I shall miss are showers after a beach day, hot ballgame days at Yankee Stadium, Root Beer Floats, wearing white sandals, alfresco dining in NYC, the sand pile in the back of my SUV from my beach chairs, the Blackeyed Susans in my yard, bees flying everywhere, Jack in swimmytrunks, summer reading, margaritas, mornings with Em, T, and Boz, carefree crossword puzzle sessions for hours, my bathing suits, Tropical Colada body spray.

As sad as summer ending is, it would be nice to hear what others miss the most when the summer winds begin to fade...

Friday, August 18, 2006

"You would be in hell..." ~ Jane Eyre

Despite being a foodie and enjoying all kinds of cuisines and dishes, there are some foods that I just cannot consume. Its not because I have not tried them or consider myself a picky eater (like some people I know). On the contrary, I have tried the foods and loathed them.

A few nights ago I was discussing foods that I disliked and then became inspired to write a post about some of the foods that would exist in Hell for me...

1) Olives ~ I think if one is Armenian or Greek or Italian, the love of the olive should be in one's ancestral blood. Unfortunately, everyone in my family loves olives except for me and my twin sister. I don't know what it is. Actually, I do. I eat an olive and get a severe chill down my spine and the urge to spit it out. However, I happen to love olive oil, especially flavored olive oil for dipping bread into. I also really love the color olive; its a nice shade of green.

2) Cilantro ~ It tastes like soap. Thankfully chefs like Ina Garten also assert that cilantro tastes like Palmolive. Of course there are chefs who love using cilantro, such as Rachel Ray. Come to think of it, Rachel Ray is hell personified. I would rather chew cilantro than have to listen to her for even an hour. If I had to choose between having my entrails eaten by vultures all day, then have them regenerate at night just to have vultures eat them again the next day OR have to hear Rachel Ray say "Yum-O" for eternity, I would have to just say ciao to my entrails for the day.

3) Raw Tomatoes ~ A raw tomato's texture is too pulpy and juicy for me to enjoy. When I prepare bruschetta, I always use a paring knife and scrape out the innards of the tomato, otherwise the dish would become watery and tasteless. I love any kind of cooked tomatoes, and ketchup is the condiment of choice always. During the ketchup/mustard/relish race at the Brooklyn Cyclone's game last month, J. Sarah and I vehemently cheered on ketchup whilst J.Sarah's fiance cheered for mustard. I am sorry, but mustard is not a universal condiment; ketchup is. (This was a serious discussion complete with email banter back and forth in addition to arguing the day of the game)

4) Balsamic Vinegar Dressing ~ Blech. I use balsamic to cook only (it actually is great to add to sausage and peppers for an excellent caramelization). I hate vinegar on salads. I hate most salads, too, but especially ones with balsamic vinegar.

5) Marzipan ~ I am always the first to say that there is no such thing as a food being too sweet, but marzipan is the exception. Indeed, it should just be utilized for decoration, because I have actually sucked sugar from a raw sugar cane and realized that marzipan is sweeter. I also dislike anything almond flavored except for an actual almond.

Hellish food is a topic that came up in discussion with the Naked Manatee a few evenings ago. This morning I chatted with some friends and loved ones and decided to share and comment on some of their foods in Hell...

John ~ He said pickled herring, pickled eggs, and miso soup. I am with him on the pickled parts, but I can't agree with the miso soup. He disagrees with me, but seaweed and tofu in broth is just delicious. John is definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy. The irony? His girlfriend is Swedish and the Nords pickle everything. The more I think about it, the more I realize that there was not one meal he and I have had that did not involve meat; our first dinner together was Peter Lugers.

Lime ~ She said Indian food or anything with curry. Personally, I love Indian food (except when its a dish made with cilantro) and consider tandoori chicken and any kind of curry heaven. Still, I am not a fan of spicy Thai food because it includes tons of cilantro.

Robin ~ Being twins, she and I share a loathing for olives, grapefruits, and "Taco Hell" (as she put it). Still, she dislikes mushrooms (I love shrooms) and artichokes (spinach and artichoke dip is heaven with a chip). Other than those items, our tastes are fairly identical.

D.R. ~ I wasn't going to include him because he is, by far, the pickiest eater I know, and to write about the foods he hates would be a dissertation in and of itself. His eating habits are an enigma to me; how he survived the mess hall at West Point is beyond my cognitive skills. Food in hell for him includes pork chops and ham. Now, consistency tells us that bacon would be on the list as well. But no, it isn't. D.R. told me that "bacon is in heaven." Another hellish food item he listed is buckwheat; I suppose he hates blinis? I mean, what else is really made with buckwheat? Rounding out his list is fish, broccoli and cheese pizza pockets, and the mints left on pillows in a hotel. Are mints considered a food? And for that matter, are pizza pockets considered a real food?

Jack ~ He did not refuse anything to eat until the other day he was given a jar that was accidentally bought by his mommy: corn and squash. I shall not describe how we knew that he disliked it.

I would enjoy hearing from others about their choice of hellish foods...

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

"But an embrace and a kiss..." ~ Jane Eyre

Dear Bloggers of the World,

I, Jack Krikor, age 11 months and 2.5 weeks, am back in another shameless display of my cuteness thanks to my fellow curlytopper, Aunty Amy!

My big, fat Armenian family has taught me the word for "kiss" in Armenian. Because I am one smart cookiepie, each time I hear the word "bachik" and my aunty puts her cheek to my face, I give her a big kiss. Since I am not yet one year of age, I don't truly know how to pucker up, so although it may look like I am eating my aunty's cheek, rest assured she is the one always wanting to nibble on my cute and chubby personage.

My first birthday party is in two weeks, and mommy and daddy made the theme Baby Einstein! Aunty Amy thinks I could be Baby Einstein, but I just humor her. I get the feeling now that I am one year old, she is going to insist I view Baby Shakespeare at least once a week. I am excited for my birthday party because all of my dear family and friends who love me so much will be there. My Mommy and Daddy are even having a puppet show for me with all of the Baby Einstein characters! In addition to my dragon cake, my Aunty Jilly is making cupcakes for all of us little cuties there who are under the age of 6 years old.

Well bloggers, today Mommy and Aunty Amy are taking me to the beach for the very first time! Aunty Amy is very excited. I am sure she is going to show me all around the shore and build a sand castle with me. I hope she enjoys this time now, because when I am a little older I am going to bury her in the sand, dump water on her via a sand bucket, and throw seaweed on her head. :)

During the day, I have no doubt that my Halloween costume shall be discussed. We can't decide, bloggers of the world, on what will make me extra cute that day, if there is such a thing as making me extra cute. So will you help us? Please vote for one of the following:

1) A Little Pirate (because I am a Captain Jack Sparrow)
2) A Little Monkey (well, I am also quite a monkey; my mattress was recently lowered down at my crib because of my climbing capabilities)
3) A Little Dragon (my favorite Baby Einstein character)

Thank you for your assistance, bloggers of the world! I send "bachiks" to all of you!

With a Shrilly Scream (I took out one of Aunty Amy's eardrums the other day),
Jack Krikor

Monday, August 14, 2006

"I had not notified to Mrs. Fairfax the exact day of my return..." ~ Jane Eyre

The siesta from blogging may be over, but my own personal summer siesta is far from over. I have three weeks left to enjoy the bounties of summer on Long Island, and I plan not to waste an hour of them. I hope that many people are glancing at their calendars this week and are becoming inspired to revel in the last few weeks of summertime. My siesta this past week was divine; the components would make Papa proud:

Thanks to Martha Stewart, the best sangria was served at my sangria party this past week. In her latest Living, she gives a wonderful recipe for Rose Sangria that I shall reprint for all to make and sip.
*Rose Sangria - serves 4-6*
3 cups rose wine (one bottle)
1 1/2 fresh pink grapefruit juice, strained (I used the juice from two grapefruits and it was fine)
3 ounces of contreau or triple sec (I used triple sec)
3 ounces of brandy or gold tequila (I used brandy)
1 small lemon, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I did slices)
1 orange cut into wedges (I forgot oranges at the supermarket, but will add them next time)
4 pounds cantaloupe or honeydew, seeded and cut into wedges (I used one cantaloupe because I prefer it and melon-balled it)
3/4 cup lemon-lime soda
Stir all of the ingredients together and refrigerate it for at least an hour. Do not add the soda until you are ready to serve it! Make sure you serve it over ice, but do NOT add ice to the sangria! Enjoy! Love, Amy and Martha

The ocean has been beautiful this week; it is a dark blue beneath a cloudless light blue sky. I went to the beach both days this past weekend. My beach buddy Saturday was T; we had a lovely time and she was quite a trooper considering she is recovering from a broken foot! Yesterday I went to the beach with Robin. We had a great time together; she has lost so much weight and looks amazing in a swimsuit. Ironically, I was reading the New York Times Book Review as we sat side by side in the sand, and the last review was about two separate novels about conjoined twins. She and I agreed that we would want to kill each other if that were us, but then killing one meant we both died. The other piece of irony here is I used to joke with J. Sarah about she and I being conjoined at the hip. Anyway, there are more beach days to come over the next three weeks, and it is my hope to take Jack for a few hours!

Thanks to David ( http://nakedmanatee.blogspot.com/), I read one of the best-written novels I have ever experienced as a reader: Bastard out of Carolina. As disturbing and difficult as it was to read, the voice of Bone, the protagonist, was one of the greatest voices of a protagonist I have read. I realize now that characters like Lily from Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees and Susie from Sebold's The Lovely Bones are more than likely modeled after Bone. The next book on my reading list is Papa Hemingway by A.E. Hotchner. I took it from my father's collection last weekend. My first unit with my American Lit Honors class this fall is Hem, so I am going to take excerpts from the book to introduce Papa's biography.

J. Sarah, Cassie, and I dined at LeZie in Chelsea this past Tuesday evening. I don't remember the last time I visited the city for dinner before this night. For those who truly know me, they would comment that this is not good for my well-being. Eve bit into the an apple thinking it would feed her soul, and I bite into this big apple knowing that it feeds mine.

I arrived early to the city, and I swear the moment I stepped onto 7th Avenue, I had a grin on my face. I wondered what others were thinking for a moment, but after that moment I didn't care. I thought I would hit Lohmann's to shop, but my how times have changed. I went to the huge Bye Bye Baby (Jack's first birthday is in three weeks) on 7th Avenue instead.

How apropos that the restaurant is named LeZie. Zia in Italian means "Aunt." The dish I had was amazing! It was ricotta pasta with herbs, fava beans, and asparagus. I learned that ricotta pasta is basically gnocci, but substituting ricotta for potato. I think I sense a Sunday this fall trying out a ricotta gnocci recipe now that I am the gnocci queen! This is the recipe I found so far, but I am going to search for others.
*Ricotta Gnocci*
1 lb. Ricotta cheese
2 cups Flour (or enough to fill the Ricotta container)
1 egg
Pinch of salt
Mix all ingredients, kneading to finish blending. Let stand for 15 minutes. Roll into ropes about as thick as you thumb using hands and a floured surface. Cut into one-inch pieces. Roll with fork to impress lines, press with thumb to make indentation. Drop into boiling water and cook until they rise to surface, about 10 minutes.

I am glad I spent a good deal of time with my family this week. I saw a great deal of Missy, Ed, and Baby Jack. Jack has a new swing set in his yard and he loves the baby bucket swing. Missy and Ed goaded me to take him down the slide since I was small enough to fit, but I think Jack was a little startled as we slid down together. He had many visitors this week, including cousins, my aunt, and my grandma, so I got to see all of them as well. The beach with Robin was so much fun, and last night I had my parental units over for some grilled fish, mashed potatoes, and corn. I made my daddy a margarita and he said it came out well! I almost cried when grilling the tuna because my mom has this thing when it comes to raw fish. No pink in the middle. Sigh. Clearly I am still not over the sin I committed against the beautiful tuna steak. Still, I would do anything for my parents.

I am a bit sad this morning because summer rec is over and I am not with my friends there, including my counselors in my class: Boz, T, and Ems. Thankfully I got to see T on Saturday and spoke to Boz via text messaging. I am in withdrawal from them, but not from my kindergarteners! The sangria party turned into one big drinking game of "Never Have I Ever," and I realize now that we were so loud. I joked I would be banned from my neighborhood after what was said.

Thanks to Ems and her mother, I am now addicted to crossword puzzles. I never, ever did them in all of my 28 years of life, but this past week of rec, it got intense. T gave me a New York Times Crossword Puzzle book as a gift, and I got crossword books for her, Em, and Boz. Great minds think alike? I can't stop. Its an addiction. I have been doing them morning, noon, and night.

Monday, August 07, 2006

"Resting my head..." ~ Jane Eyre

This week is my siesta week on this blog.

I am taking a figurative nap for both some creative rest and rejuvenation and some literal rest and rejuvenation.

In honor of siesta, I am hosting a sangria and tapas party for my friends at work this week in my beautiful backyard. I am meeting with J. Sarah and Cassie tomorrow in the city for some long overdue siesta-ing. Aside from that, you shall find me about ten feet away from the line where the ocean meets the shore. I shall be taking multiple naps on the beach during the later half of this week.

I shall return next Monday the 14th. Until then, peace be with you. I am off to make like Papa Hemingway during siesta in Key West...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"You shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt!"

Two years ago when I redecorated my new bedroom, I wanted a room that would feel transporting. I was toying with the idea of Japanese prints and Asian decor, but in the end I chose prints and decor of one of my favorite cultures: Egyptian. My walls are a deep golden color. Prints on the walls include that of Nefrititi, Hathor, and Seti. There are two sculptures I ordered specifically from an online store that specialized in Ancient Egyptian art: one is a cat, the other a bird.

I think every child in New York remembers his/her first field trip to the MET, because it always involves the Egyptian wing. I recall being there on a second grade field trip, being ushered in and out of small crevices in resurrected temples and staring into thick glass which contained the various coffins of mummies. I think the morbid fascination with mummification begins quite early on in the elementary school years. There is just something really appealing to an eight year old about a deceased person's brains and other body fluid getting sucked out of the body via the nose. Of course, there are other aspects of Ancient Egyptian culture that are also fascinating, including the hieroglyphics, architecture, and deities. Ancient Egyptian culture is studied at various stages throughout grade school, and when I was teaching ninth grade three years ago, I and my history counterpart at school put together an interdisciplinary project involving a trip to the wing at the MET. He and I went together one late afternoon in October and had so much fun putting together this kind of scavenger hunt for our students. It amazes me how the MET was not only able to obtain such beautiful artifacts from Ancient Egypt, but to obtain these artifacts in such high quantities. Of course I love the Temple of Dendur, as does Billy Crystal's character does in When Harry Met Sally, but there are so many other beautiful pieces in the collection that are so much more subtle. A few favorites of mine include a crocodile statue, the jewels and amulets from the mummy burials, and the carefully etched sarcophagi.

When I was in sixth grade, I attended a Halloween party dressed as Cleopatra. I had found this awesome headdress that had gold sequins and a snake that came out at the forehead, complete with beads dangling down my hair from the crown of the headpiece. My mother loves Elizabeth Taylor, so my sisters and I saw the movie as young girls. Of course I realize now how far from historically accurate the film is, but nonetheless it does capture the aura of Egypt. Antony and Cleopatra happens to be one of Shakespeare's lesser read plays, which is rather unfortunate. It is one of my favorites because it is evident how much Shakespeare was mezmerized by the sexual power Cleopatra owned. It is my hope that one summer it shall be the play in the park, and perhaps even put on screen.

Of course I have also come to love Egyptian food in my adult years. Some of the best Egyptian restaurants in New York are found in Astoria, including Mombar. I have eaten there twice; the decor makes you feel as if you have stepped into Arabian Nights, and the food is phenomenal. There is quite a link between Egyptian cuisine and Armenian cuisine, but Egyptian cuisine has some great twists that I enjoy as well. I do hope that one day it will be safe to travel to Egypt so I can see the pyramids, enjoy the food, and relish in the ancient history.

So what inspired this post?

As a teacher, I feel that it is important to expose children to various cultures very early on. A teaching moment arose yesterday with my Kindergartens. One of my counselors busted out her 80's music cd collection, and on came "Walk Like an Egyptian." I looked around the room; my kids were completely disaffected as my counselors and I were going crazy over the song. We decided to take matters into our own hands; I think we refused to succumb to the generation gap. We grabbed chairs, cleared tables, and instructed my kindies how to walk like an Egyptian for a good twenty minutes. They loved it. Ok, so there is absolutely very little merit in teaching them about Egypt via a cliched movement that Susanna Hoffs perpetuated, but you have to start somewhere, don't you?