Thursday, April 25, 2013

Flash fiction: Raptor Seeks Prey

I wrote this a while ago for my writing group.  We were writing flash fiction about velociraptors.

Raptor seeks prey
Hey what’s up ladies you can call me V this is my first time on this online dating thing so be gentle with me LOL just kidding bring it I’m not scared of anything well except asteroids don’t know why those things just freak me out LOL well I guess I should tell you some stuff about myself I’ve got a muscular build and old fashioned values by old fashioned I mean Cretaceous Period but don’t get me wrong I’m a fun-loving guy I love hunting and spending time outdoors especially at night and I’m looking for a girl who can keep up with me someone who can handle my lifestyle I like girls with some meat on their bones and I don’t care if you don’t like to cook ‘cause I’m on the primal diet I mean for real not like your loser ex oh and on that topic don’t bring drama into the relationship ‘cause I don’t have time for that and I’ll disembowel the dude and then slash all his tires with my sickle claw for good measure ‘cause that’s how I roll so if you crave a little danger in your life send me a message just remember I like my women like I like my meat RAW and QUIVERING LOL just kidding well maybe not you’ll have to find out oh and any of you planning to message me bitching about my grammar well for your information I’m from Mongolia and this is my second language my first language is REEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWR and if you give me a chance I’ll make you bilingual too.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Coming out of hibernation to discuss vegan King Cakes

Well, I started an MFA program last summer (at the wonderful Goddard College) and subsequently abandoned my blog.  But I'm back today, to talk about a very important topic: Vegan King Cakes!  The king cake, as I first discovered while visiting NOLA in 2002 (back when I still lived up north) is a delicious Carnival season dessert.  It's essentially a giant, ring-shaped cinnamon roll covered in  colored sugar.  With a plastic baby in it.  Yum!
When I went vegan, I was very pleased to find that vegan king cakes could be obtained from Whole Foods.  Since then, I've discovered two other places where one can obtain them: The Peacebaker in Metairie, and Truly Free Bakery in Baton Rouge.  So, who has the best vegan king cake?  Here are my reviews:

The best: Whole Foods
Whole Foods king cakes are really close to the real (non-vegan) thing.  Don't believe me?  Once I brought one to a parade with my friend and a bunch of her friends.  Several of her friends, not knowing it was vegan, tried it and commented on what a good king cake it was.  The cakes are generously sized and will serve many people.  The downside of the Whole Foods cake is that it is pricy (this is Whole Paycheck, after all), and you have to call in advance to order one.  As far as I know, they do not make filled vegan king cakes, so you can only get the plain cinnamon flavor.  Also, the frosting tends to get hard quite quickly.  I like to heat up the leftovers in the microwave to soften it again.

Also good: The Peacebaker
The Peacebaker is a new-ish gluten free bakery in Metairie, and most (but not all) of what they make is also vegan.  Their king cakes are the small round type (as opposed to the large oval kind).  They have pretty frosting in the Mardi Gras colors.  This cake was really yummy, and my husband and I devoured it quite quickly.  We agreed, though, that the texture was not very similar to the traditional king cake.  It was more like a muffin or coffee cake.  I imagine this is because it's gluten free.  Like Whole Foods, they don't make them with fillings at this point, but they told me they hope to next year.

Not so great: Truly Free Bakery
It really pains me to write this, because I LOVE Truly Free.  Anton and I enjoy going there for lunch on days when he has doctor appointments.  They have delicious, healthy things to eat and a great kid's menu.  Also the staff is super-friendly.  So when I discovered that they made king cakes, including several with FILLING, I was psyched.  Sadly...this cake was not so good.  I got a blueberry cream cheese filled cake.  The filling was yummy.  The cake?  Not so much.  It was hard as a rock and really, really dense.  I considered my microwave trick to see if it would soften, but I was afraid that would ruin the cream cheese filling. Everything else I've ever had from Truly Free was awesome, so I don't know what went wrong here :(

If there are any other places in NOLA or BR that make vegan king cakes, I'd love to hear about them!  In the meantime, I will fantasize about a Whole Foods cake, with The Peacebaker's frosting and Truly Free's filling.  That would be the ultimate vegan king cake!

Monday, June 25, 2012

But what about dinner?

I recently overheard two women talking about writing.  I think they were trying to plan a time to get together and write or something like that.  One of them said to the other, "well, I'm a stay at home mom, so I have to think about getting dinner on the table."  And she didn't seem particularly bothered by that fact, but it basically summed up my own greatest current fear about my life: that it becomes completely structured around domestic tasks.

Now that I'm working part time, I feel a lot better about my life than when I was staying home all the time with Anton.  I like feeling productive, I like using my massage skills, I like earning some money.  I've even lost the last of the weight I gained during pregnancy by simply moving more at my very physical job (and spending less time eating out of pure boredom).  But it has become even more of a challenge to find time to read, write, etc.  And although I do enjoy cooking, having to think about groceries and prep time and all of that is starting to feel like a major chore.

My husband suggested that I cook big vats of food less often, so I don't have to cook every day.  I suggested that he help with  the cooking more, for the record...but so far, no dice.  Anyway, I was meal-planning for a while there, and found it to be helpful and cheaper than the last minute dash to the store on the way home from work so I can throw something together.  So I'm trying to get back into that habit.  I've got a new cookbook called The Vegan Slow Cooker, and I plan to try to cook something in the crock pot every other day, and then we'll eat leftovers on the off day.  So far I've used instructions from the book to cook and freeze tomatoes, since my moms plants produced a TON and she's about to go on vacation.  Today I made something not from the cookbook but a blog, a recipe I've been making for years: vegan red beans and rice.  After all, it is Monday!

Hopefully this will free up some time so I can focus more on my writing.  I have been making progress on several projects, but not at the pace I'd like.

I don't think there's anything wrong with centering one's life around home and family stuff, necessarily, but it's a scary thought for me.  I feel like I'm actually a better mom when I have opportunities to do my own thing sometimes.  As much as I care about nutrition and all, I have big goals for my life, which I'm not going to achieve in a kitchen. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer adventures

So, I've been pretty quiet here lately. Oops!  I've been working more, and teaching theater to summer camp kids (which, though the teaching part is only 1.5 hours per week, involves a lot of preparation...between the prep work and the effort to keep the class from complete chaos I have developed a very deep respect for Real Teachers).

Also, I had a short but sweet prolific writing period last month, when I wrote three short stories: one of fairly average story length, one flash fiction, and one super short flash fiction for a contest, which I just found out I won.  So that was neat.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Gritty, Coming-Of-Age Short Story Plot Generator For Male Writers

Are you a dude who would like to write a gritty, coming-of-age short story?  Considering the market for these is seemingly endless, why not?  Well, I've made it easy for you.  Simply combine the following elements, in the order you choose:
  • An Awkward Sexual Encounter
  • Drinking or Drug Use
  • An Asshole Male Friend
  • A Fight

1. The protagonist is a young male (duh).
2. To add spice, this story could take place in, say, the 50s or the 80s, or, you know, whenever you, the male writer, were your protagonist's age.
3. To add additional spice, the protagonist could be Jewish (if the writer is Jewish) or Catholic (if the writer is Catholic),, never mind, just pick one of those two.
4. The fight must be a physical fight (i.e. fist fight).  Weak, boring verbal arguments do not count.
5. The drinking/drug use could fall anywhere on a scale of Boone's Farm to Heroin, depending on how gritty you want to be.
6. The protagonist may be an asshole, but the Asshole Male Friend must be more of an asshole.
7. For economy, you may combine these elements.  It's always a great choice to have the protagonist and the Asshole Friend get drunk/high together and then get in a fist fight, preferably because one of them had an Awkward Sexual Encounter with the other's girlfriend or mom or something.
8. If the writer is gay, the Awkward Sexual Encounter can occur between the protagonist and the Asshole Friend.  This has the added bonus of being extra-gritty AND allowing the writer not to include any female characters whatsoever.

You can write several versions and make something of a career of Gritty, Coming-Of-Age short stories.  But if you get ambitious, feel free to just repeat the elements over and over again, and you've got yourself a Gritty, Coming-Of-Age Novel.  But you'll probably need to add a death somewhere in there, too.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The curse of questioning.

My mother makes decisions very easily.  She does a little research, finds something that makes sense to her, and goes with it.  When it comes to training her dog, she follows that Dog Whisperer guy.  When she wants to make a major purchase, she consults Consumer Reports.  When we were babies, she looked everything up in her Dr. Spock book. 

I wish I could do that.  I don't know if it's personality differences, or a result of coming of age with internet access, or some combination of the two, but I find it very hard to find One Solution to any given problem.  Because, there are so many "experts" out there!  And they disagree with each other!  And you can find them all (and their various legions of followers) stating their cases on the internet!  And I can't seem to stop myself, whenever I hear advice, from looking it up online, and seeking out alternative opinions.  Sometimes I spend hours doing this.

In recent years, I have developed a decent ability to see and understand both sides of an issue.  This is mostly a good thing, but it can make it hard for me to make a moral decision and feel certain that it's the right choice.  Exploration of moral gray areas is a major theme in my writing.  It makes for great drama.  It's not always so great in real life, though.

Two areas that I spend a lot of time researching are, not surprisingly, parenting and nutrition.  I've grown really tired of articles along the lines of "Ten Foods You Think Are Healthy That Are Actually Unhealthy" and "Five Ways You Are Damaging Your Baby" etc.  People love to write these things, I guess because it's fun to tell other people they're WRONG.  Then, I suppose, they get a lot of hits on these articles because everyone wants to share them on Facebook so that they can get the pleasure of telling their friends and family that they're WRONG.  One thing these type of articles tend to say is some version of "do the research yourself, and you'll see that I'm right!"  This amuses me, because I usually find that the more research I do, the more nuanced and muddy an issue gets.

Of course, ultimately, one has to make a decision and stick with it.  I choose to be vegan even though I don't believe it's necessarily the One Best Way To Be Healthy And Moral.  I believe, based on my research and personal experience that it can be healthy, that it can help the environment, and that I would prefer not to eat or harm animals, if I can avoid it. 

Parenting is a bit stickier for me.  I have some friends who are strong adherents to Attachment Parenting, and some of it makes sense and works well for me, too (like breastfeeding and cloth diapering).  Other things, like co-sleeping, do not currently work for me.  Sometimes it feels easy, in the moment, to fall asleep while nursing Anton in bed.  Problem is, we both tend to wake up more often, and I tend to get squished into uncomfortable positions, resulting in back and neck aches, and if he wakes up and I don't immediately realize it, he can and will crawl off the edge of the bed.  Sometimes he will sleep in his own bed without much fuss.  Sometimes he won't. 

One major issue is, I like my own space in bed.  I don't snuggle with David when I'm sleeping.  When I lived alone, my cat would sleep on top of me, and I didn't mind that, but generally I don't want other humans touching me when I'm trying to sleep. 

Anton slept really long stretches in the first few months of his life, but now?  Not so much.  I know this is normal.  I know he's not some evil baby, trying to manipulate me.*  But more sleep needs to happen, somehow.  Last night, David was remarking about how I've changed my mind a few times about what I would and wouldn't try to get him to sleep more.  I readily admitted that I am stumped on this issue.  I've tried various methods, and haven't found one that works.  It has become quite apparent to me that no One True Way of parenting is going to work for me.  I wish it could be that easy...but it's not. 

I guess it's time for more research.

*I have to say, I find it slightly questionable that people feel so certain that they know exactly what a baby or a dog's thought process is in a given situation.  I mean, how can they be so sure whether or not the dog wants a human to be its "pack leader" or a baby, if left in a crib, will believe his parents don't care and have abandoned him to die alone?  Don't babies and dogs have some diversity in how they react to situations?  And how can we really be sure, given that none of us has been a dog or remembers being a young baby?  There I go, questioning again...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

If it's not one thing...

So, since Anton started day care, he's picked up just about every germ in the world.  Sometimes David and I end up getting sick, too.  It's getting quite old.  Anyway, it's been a few weeks since I've been actively sick, but I developed a sinus infection after my last cold.  This has happened to me a couple of times in the past, and I would treat it with steam/neti pot/huge doses of Vitamin C until it went away.  Which usually took...a LONG time!

Well, this time it got so ridiculous that I had horrible headaches and even visual effects (no, it wasn't a migraine, it was just my sinuses).  So I broke down and got some antibiotics.  And then it went away!  Yay!

But...then the antibiotics (amoxicillin) gave me a scary rash that sent me back to the doctor!  Not cool!  Apparently this is fairly common for kids, but can also happen to adults.  The rash is made worse by sun exposure, so it's all over my chest, neck, and face.  It's fading now and looks mostly like a splotchy sunburn.  Gah.

The doctor told me to limit sun exposure.  NO JAZZ FEST, he said!  Oddly, that actually makes me feel somewhat better.  I hadn't planned to go to Jazz Fest anyway, because, sadly, Anton is in a phase that I don't think would be very Fest-compatible.  He mostly likes to crawl, stand, and cruise around.  Sitting in a stroller all day?  Not so much.  But I was feeling sorry for myself for not being able to go, so it helps to have an actual medical reason as well.

Anyway, at least I have a cute kid to hang out with.