Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Shoes for the Wide

Everyone has a thing. You know this thing. It's the thing that makes you feel uncomfortable, often so uncomfortable that you will take extreme measures to alleviate the problem. Some women have a thing with their hips or their thighs. Some people have a thing with their hair. And some have a thing with their boobs. I've known people who have gotten boob jobs and hair transplants, and while I am ridden with many, many things myself, I never knew what it was like to have such a terrible thing with one part of my body that I would take such drastic measures.

Then I realized that my thing does not really have to do with my hair, my boobs or anything up there. (Although they could be shinier and rounder, but who doesn't like shinier and rounder?) No, my thing was with my feet. My very painfully wide, hard to outfit feet.

It did not occur to me for a long time that the reason why all those cute shoes I had in my closet that completed my outfits so well, but simultaneously made me want to fall down and cry, was because of the exaggerated width of my feet. Although I realized it, I didn't automatically accept it. For a long time, I still squeezed my flippers into tiny shoes made for people with medium width feet. And at night my feet would cry themselves to sleep.

It wasn't until I heard from a friend how painful her bunion removal surgery was that I started fearing for my feet's safety. I went to a special shoe store where I found lots of wide width shoes and bought the same pair as the silver-haired grandma next to me. I have worn these comfort shoes for a long time now and had resigned myself to never wearing cute shoes again.

But then I made the mistake of accompanying Nathalie shoe shopping and watched her try on cute shoes on her petite, elf-like feet, and I slipped. I bought two pairs of tiny shoes that I knew would not fit, but that did not matter at the time, because when I wore them, people noticed. "Those are some sassy shoes!" someone might cat call at me in the kitchen at work. My feet would blush, unaccustomed to being in the spotlight but secretly reveling in all the attention they were getting.

At night though, it was a different story. Without anyone around, they would cry to me, begging me to help them. Was it really this or the grandma comfort shoes? Were there no alternatives they cried?

I couldn't bear to hear their suffering any longer, so I got up, turned on my laptop, and for 5 straight hours, I visited multiple websites promising cute shoes for wide feet. This is a summary of what I saw:

I cried bitter tears that night, wondering at the injustice of it all. Wide feet were feet too, gosh dammit. We deserved to be treated better than getting only the shoes that looked like burrito wraps, didn't we? I was about to end my search when I found a line called Romantic Soles on Zappos. I spotted a single pair of shoes that looked like normal cute shoes! Was this really true? Could my eyes be playing tricks on me? Before they could disappear, I ordered a pair, and today they arrived!

And not only did the shoes arrive, so did my new 35mm camera lens! Oh goodie!

I am completely enamored with both goodies at the moment. One for being non-black shoes my grandma would wear and the other for giving my pictures such awesome blurry backgrounds! (Swoon!)

So they might not be the sassiest shoes ever, but look! There are hearts on the soles! And did I mention they are wide widths?

My new lens makes me so happy I wanted to take pictures of everything in sight. Including my dinner. Look at the greeny greenness of those brussels sprouts! Many more pictures of food and dinners will be coming now because of this. I apologize in advance if looking at pictures of brussels sprouts gets boring. I promise I will try to eat more exciting foods.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What I Ate (This Weekend)

This weekend was beyond beautiful so Alan and I took advantage of the warm weather by putting on our shorts and walking around the lake.

It was definitely an ice cream kinda day so we went for some scoops at Sweet Retreat. My mom and dad used to take me here when I was a wee lass!

The best part about Sweet Retreat is when you ask for one scoop they really give you half a carton's worth in a cup.

The girl in front of me got the last scoop of rainbow sherbert, so I got caramel butterscotch instead. And then I spent the next 10 minutes marveling at how much ooey gooey delicious caramel managed to be in my ice cream.


That night, to balance out all that ice cream, I made this antipasti salad from my new Food Network crush Claire Robinson. And to balance out the salad, I made this garlic bread. (The best garlic bread recipe ever!) With all this new balance I've created, I do believe the world is all in order now.

Today I met up with Irene at The Boiling Crab for some seafood in their legendary sha-bang sauce. It was my first time so Irene had to show me the ropes. We got to squeeze our sauces right on the table. It was super fun, but messy.

Luckily, we got these awesome bibs to help keep ourselves tidy.

Irene and I split a bag of shrimp. The sauce was seriously magic.

Gettin' down and dirty

Save me!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Color Me Katie

Today I discovered the wonderful blog of Katie Sokoler, Color Me Katie. She's a photographer and street artist from Brooklyn. She often posts about the colorful, super creative projects she does, and tonight I read and read, and the more I read, the happier I got. She reminds me of the main character from the movie Happy-Go-Lucky. (That was a great movie).

A few of my favorite posts of hers:

Her Improv Everywhere group pretended their friend Rob got lost at a Knicks game.

Colorful footprints on the sidewalk:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Everything All At Once

Lately I have been feeling as though I want to do everything all at once which includes writing more, writing better, getting fitter, eating better, reading more, working on my business plan and learning how to use my camera so that I can take pictures like littlebrownpen who seriously takes the kind of pictures that make me want to cry they are so beautiful. I want to make people cry. In a good way. The kind of way that inspires them to want to be better at their craft(s) and make other people cry. Eventually the whole world will be crying and it will be frightening at first, but also pretty amazing, all these tears of joy. Entire villages and suburban neighborhoods will just flood over with the happy tears, but some places are experiencing moderate to severe drought conditions at the moment, so perhaps this would not be so terrible after all.

It is a bit overwhelming to want to do so many things so much better, all right now. So all I did after work today was go on a hike with Alan. It was okay that I didn't take any pictures or work on my business plan because during the hike we saw a peacock. And then we ate ramen. And hiking, peacocks and ramen just so happen to be a few of my favorite things.

Santa Ramen from yesterday's dinner with my friend Thai

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Quarreling Neighbors

After a day of walking around researching boutiques and observing the shoppers who were in them, Nat and I were wiped out. When I got home, I collapsed into a pile on the couch and that's where I stayed for the rest of the night. When I was ready to retire, I willed the fibers in my legs to help me get off the couch and checked the time. It was 1 in the morning. A perfect time to get in my pajamas, hop into bed and enjoy some peace and qui---

"Put yourself in my shoes!" a man's voice downstairs demanded.

A new couple had recently moved in downstairs. They were young, in their mid 20's. Alan told me the man worked at Big 5. I had seen the back of the woman's head once as she was locking her door before dashing out to the street, but I have never gotten a good look at the two.

With the new occupants below us, sometimes I worried we were too loud. I would turn the TV down until eventually we got used to watching all the characters on Lost mime their parts. Did she say 'Where is Jack or where is Mack?' we would sometimes ask, the one person relying on the other person's lip reading skills.

But the tactic to be considerate, quiet neighbors obviously backfired. From the way the two downstairs were going at each other that night, they obviously thought the walls were well-insulated, protecting them from the shame of knowing that everyone around them could hear their lover's quarrel.

"It's always all about you! What about me? You always do this!" the man cried out again.

I wanted so badly to settle gently into a deep sleep, but the choppy bursts of angry exclamations coming from below made it hard to drift off. A part of me considered going downstairs to tell them to take it down a notch. Or maybe I could just invite them upstairs so I wouldn't have to strain so hard to hear what they were arguing about. Was there another man? Did she say bad things about his mom? I couldn't tell, and instead of going downstairs to tell them to shut up, I found myself lying still in bed so that I could hear her side of it. It seemed unfair to judge them based off of his accusations alone, and so I laid there and held my breath so that I could hear better.

Finally, after half an hour or so, I heard her say, "I won't do it again. I promise I won't do it again." And then there was quiet. I could only assume from such heated battle that they were arguing about something really important. I thought about the statements each party had made, piecing together the story in my mind. I imagined the last slice of a delicious cheesecake sitting on a plate in their fridge. A slice of cheesecake delivered to the man by his dying mother in Wisconsin, the cheese state, a state with excellent cream cheese used to make only the finest cheesecakes. The man downstairs had been looking forward to sitting down and sticking his fork in the decadent white triangle all day. He had had a bad day at Big 5 where a customer had yelled at him for not accepting a 20% off coupon for Payless shoes, but he had consoled himself then with the thought of coming home and eating his last slice of creamy and smooth cheesecake. Only when he got home, with the greatest anticipation, he found not the heavenly slice he had been looking forward to but the empty plate in the sink with a few crumbs on it.

Now I have to go stomp around the apartment in my boots so that they know we're here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Afternoon Light

When the clocks in the lower right corner of our computers struck noon, we inhaled our sandwiches and salads in three fell bites. We gathered our notebooks and pens and hurried outside. Once inside my small Civic, we paused for a second to bask in the warmth of the afternoon sun -- it was nice -- which was a pleasant change of temperature, especially when compared to the chilly office consistently kept as warm as a refrigerator, lest we should all spoil and go bad before finishing our day's work.

At Starbucks, we stood in line and mused over the menu we have both come to know so well. With our drinks in hand, now we could concentrate. We sat at a metal table outside, opened our notebooks and began. I wanted to begin with the name. And then I mentioned having an espresso machine and chairs and couches and, oh, what about a makeup artist?

Nathalie interrupted. She had questions. Good, thought provoking questions. As she asked each of her questions, they made me really stop to think about what I wanted the answers to be. When we didn't have answers, we would write the question down in our notebooks to look into for later.

While we tossed ideas back and forth, the air around us changed, becoming infused with an electric golden light, and even the people we observed walking by us in their business casual attire, the ones who looked a bit sad some days with their sweater knits and Subway sandwiches, looked more alive, more content. As we wrapped up and made a few more notes in the clean white pages of our notebooks, I felt happy and glowy and was pleased to have someone else understand the wonderful feeling of dreaming. Today we dreamed about starting our own business: opening a women's clothing boutique.

More details to come as they come... ;)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Baked Hearts

Last week, my friend Sashee asked me if I wanted to bake with her. I haven't baked anything (well, except for Funfetti cake and I don't know if that counts) for years now, but I do love baked goods almost as much as I love breathing air, so of course I said yes. We made these Black-Bottom Cupcakes which turned out really well, were delicious and easy to make. I finally got to put my heart-shaped muffin tin to use. Aren't the hearts cute? I nabbed the tin at Denise's house when I noticed it in her box of items to give away to Goodwill. Of all the places to find some love!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Sarah's Wild Side

When I was 17, I spent every other Saturday volunteering at a cafe inside the Children's Discovery Museum in downtown San Jose. Aside from my friend Sarah, who also volunteered, and the boss man they called David, everyone else who worked in the cafe had some sort of disability -- some people had Down Syndrome, others had twisted, tiny arms that curled tight against their bodies.

We learned how to make cafe delicacies such as curly fries and bean and cheese burritos, and sometimes, we even got to work the ICEE machine. We served different flavors in the cups with the domed lids and the red straws with the spoon scoop at the end -- all the right pieces to make a bona fide ICEE. When we would work the machine together, one of us would pull the ICEE and the other would cap it and wipe off any excess dribble from the side of the cup.

One day it was particularly hot out, the kind of day that made everyone want ICEEs. We were side by side, rocking and rolling, filling cups, capping and wiping. I carefully swirled the slush into the cup, handing Sarah one cup after the other. At one point, I held the cup out to her for longer than usual which caused me to look up. She had deviated from the process; she was not wiping off the excess with a paper towel.

She was licking the side of a cup.

My mouth fell open and where I wanted to say something sensible, all that came out was "Uhhh." The man waiting for his ICEE stood on the other side of the counter looking at us, an extremely perplexed look on his face. And here's the kicker. He took the ICEE. She handed it to him, after she had just licked it, and he took it. No complaints, no objections. Nothing.

That's what it was like being friends with Sarah. She did whatever she wanted, and she was untouchable. It's probably the closest I'll ever get to being friends with a wild rock 'n' roll star, minus all the drugs and the girls.

Even the hard and fast principles of science didn’t apply to her. Like the one that says that when a pan of something is baked for 45 minutes at 375 degrees, the pan is inevitably going to get hot. So hot that the wearing of oven mitts of some sort will be required to handle it.

I saw this with my own eyes one lazy afternoon when Nathalie and I were lounging around at Sarah's. Because we got bored quickly as people do when they are 17 and have nothing better to do, we decided to make brownies. 45 minutes later, Sarah got up, pulled the baking tray out, plopped them on top of the oven and dug in. With brownie crumbs coating her hands, she looked up and said with her mouth full, “Brownees er ‘eady.”

We ignored her chocolate smudged face and instead focused in on her bare hands, a sticky brown mess now, but still showing slight swatches of pink skin where she had licked her fingers clean.

“Your hands,” I said, my mouth slightly agape in awe.

“Did you just pull those out with your bare hands??” Nathalie echoed in disbelief.

Whereas moments before they had been the vehicle to transporting her to a gooey chocolate ecstasy, she now looked down at her hands as if they had been smeared with searing hot poo.

“Shit!” she said, her eyes wide, the realization of her superhuman heat resistance surprising even her. As she held her hands under the running tap, she threw her head back, opened her mouth and laughed and laughed.

Now we are grown up (sort of), and she is getting married in a week. On Saturday, Nat and I took her out for her bachelorette party, and as we drove up into the City, Nathalie repeated, "I can't believe you're getting married." To an outsider, it might seem like a snarky comment, but then again, outsiders wouldn't have known Sarah. Wouldn't have known about her outbursts that exploded as soon as the sun set, making it seem then as though no man were worth settling for. And yet here she was, wearing her silver bachelorette sash across her chest with a pink tiara in her hair and so darn grown up. Her fiance was lucky to have found her, and I wondered if all this meant Sarah would be a changed woman, no longer to be one with a mischievous glow in her eyes.

I got my answer that same night after dinner. After waiting in line to get ice cream, it was finally our turn at the counter. I ordered two scoops of the snickerdoodle and the salted caramel, and Sarah ordered the brown sugar. The ice cream scooper handed her her ice cream and asked her what her sash said.

"Bachelorette," she said.

He congratulated her and was just about to ask the person behind her what kind of ice cream he wanted when Sarah piped in.

"What does your invisible sash say?" she asked.

Caught off guard, his eyes flitted about. He shrugged and responded, "Uh, I dunno. I'm scooping ice cream?"

I thought it would end there, a natural end to a natural question.

She held her cup of ice cream in between her hands. She looked him straight in the eyes and said, "That's not what it says to me."

Again, he looked flushed. He hesitated, and then asked, "What does it say to you?"

I wondered what she was going to say.

"I'm not telling." And with that, she walked away.

I looked back at the ice cream scooper, feeling a little bit bad for him and wanting to reassure him that it most likely only says good things on his sash, but at the same time, I was too busy thinking, The girl's still got it! and breathing a sigh of relief that it, the familiar do-whatever-I-want attitude of hers, was still there.

Congratulations, Sarah and Pae!!!

Bachelorette Pics

Our middle names are Classy. (This is not a parking lot).

How becoming is this sash of her? So very much.

We enjoy showing each other frightening things.

Sometimes we feel so small next to women in robes.

Snugged out -- the best part about the Snuggie Bar Crawl was just that -- we got to go out wearing a big huge blanket and I gotta tell you, the cold that night didn't bother me one bit.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beautiful Chairs

I used to have a slight obsession with upholstered chairs that began when I first moved into my own place without roommates. Then I realized that an upholstered chair wouldn't fit in my living room if I still wanted to have room to be able to walk around without having to crawl over everything. That was when the obsession died down.

But then, this past Sunday, as I was glowing with the thrill of my new purchase -- a pair of Oxo kitchen tongs -- I spied this chair in the Crate and Barrel window and the obsession began all over again.

Does it not make you want to sit on it whilst enjoying a tall glass of iced tea, contemplating what the grass will look like and what the night air will feel like in the summer?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Frog That Had A Name

Now that we're breathing easier after the good news we've gotten so far, Alan and I have lots more time to devote to finding and watching the best of TV. I thought we were both on the same page in terms of how we defined "the best" until the other day when he changed the channel right in the middle of "The Tiniest Girl in the World." Something about him being scared.

Having learned my lesson, tonight I watched the latest episode of "16 and Pregnant" on my computer with headphones on so I could enjoy it in peace. I paused it to tell him about the name the 15-year old mom had picked out for her baby.

"Hey, that's cool. They're going to name their baby Nevaeh," I said.
"Like the lotion?" he asked.
"No, like heaven spelled backwards."
"Isn't that cool? I'm going to name my daughter something cool. Like Avatar. I mean... Ratava."
And in a burst of excitement, Alan said, "I'm going to name mine Zeip! Like my frog!" And then he pointed at the green frog character he was playing in the land o' Alan's Computer Games.

Apparently we are not having children together.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The News and the Additional Notes

When Alan had his surgery back in June, there were lots of post-op complications. One of the more inconsequential ones (or so I thought) was the fluid that pooled in the parts of his abdomen that shouldn't have had any fluid. To fix the problem, they took him to a special section of the hospital, pushed plastic tubes through his skin and snaked the tubes past the muscle and and the tissue to drain the pools of fluid. The fluid collected in two bags on the outside of his body which he would pin to his shirt when he needed to be mobile. In between all the hospital stays, Alan was released for a few days and we went to see Up. He clipped the bags to his shirt and people stared. He does not remember this day.

I don't know what I expected at the doctor's appointment today. Maybe that the doctor would come in and hand Alan a sheet of paper with "Clean Bill of Health" printed at the top and an A+ hand written in the middle. It'd be a nice touch if we also got ribbons or stickers for our shirts, but I knew that, realistically, that might be asking for a bit too much. Instead, she came in and told us that the CT scan and the bloodwork indicated that Alan's cancer is most likely gone. Then she said that the areas where the tubes had collected fluid from back in June looked inflamed. She added that what looked like inflammation could be cancer, but that they couldn't be sure. To be sure, they needed to do another scan. The scan has been scheduled, but because they are completely booked, it will not happen until later this month or sometime next month. And after that, the surgeon and the GI will determine when he can have his intestines re-connected. She estimates that that will happen in the next 3-4 months. So it is mostly very excellent news, but the clean bill of health has an "additional notes" section which reads sort of like this:

You are well! (We are pretty sure). Come back in the next couple of months and we will see if we can't get you that pretty blue ribbon.

So, while we're happy, it still feels as though we're holding our breaths. Just a little bit.


On another note, thank you all so much for your positive thoughts and well wishes!!! You have all helped me through many moments of darkness, and for that, I present a shiny, clickable link for each of you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Tomorrow's News

Tomorrow Alan has an appointment with his oncologist's counterpart. She is the doctor Alan does not like because she does not look him in the eyes. This only bothers him when they are discussing serious matters, which, when they see each other, they usually are. Tomorrow is the day that he will be getting the results of his CT scan. No one has told us this explicitly, because to spell it out would not be the Valley Medical way, but we know from the times before that this is the test that will tell us if he's won, if the cancer is all gone.

If everything looks good, then it will be monumental. It will be a sushi dinner kind of day. And so I am going with him tomorrow, to do the things that I imagine will be calming, like talking about cheeseburgers and summer. And when we hear the good news, I will pick him up and put him on my shoulder, the both of us whooping and swinging our clasped hands high above our heads.
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