Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cinderella Redux

Anne Sexton is one of my absolute favorite poets. I remember reading “Transformations,” back in college and being enthralled by her funny, dark yet poignant world. Her parodies of the fairy tales we’ve all grown up with is nothing short of brilliant. She utilized those fictitious tales which has undoubtedly steered the perceptions of both the male and female psyche, to spurn our unrealistic expectations.
Here is her version of the classic fairy tale Cinderella

Cinderella
You always read about it:

the plumber with the twelve children

who wins the Irish Sweepstakes.

From toilets to riches.

That story.


Or the nursemaid,

some luscious sweet from Denmark

who captures the oldest son's heart.

from diapers to Dior.

That story.

Or a milkman who serves the wealthy,

eggs, cream, butter, yogurt, milk,

the white truck like an ambulance

who goes into real estate

and makes a pile.


From homogenized to martinis at lunch.

Or the charwoman

who is on the bus when it cracks up

and collects enough from the insurance.

From mops to Bonwit Teller.

That story.

Once

the wife of a rich man was on her deathbed

and she said to her daughter Cinderella:

Be devout. Be good. Then I will smile

down from heaven in the seam of a cloud.

The man took another wife who had

two daughters, pretty enough

but with hearts like blackjacks.

Cinderella was their maid.

She slept on the sooty hearth each night

and walked around looking like Al Jolson.

Her father brought presents home from town,

jewels and gowns for the other women

but the twig of a tree for Cinderella.

She planted that twig on her mother's grave

and it grew to a tree where a white dove sat.

Whenever she wished for anything the dove

would drop it like an egg upon the ground.

The bird is important, my dears, so heed him.

Next came the ball, as you all know.

It was a marriage market.

The prince was looking for a wife.

All but Cinderella were preparing

and gussying up for the event.

Cinderella begged to go too.

Her stepmother threw a dish of lentils

into the cinders and said: Pick them

up in an hour and you shall go.

The white dove brought all his friends;

all the warm wings of the fatherland came,

and picked up the lentils in a jiffy.

No, Cinderella, said the stepmother,

you have no clothes and cannot dance.

That's the way with stepmothers.

Cinderella went to the tree at the grave

and cried forth like a gospel singer:

Mama! Mama! My turtledove,

send me to the prince's ball!

The bird dropped down a golden dress

and delicate little slippers.

Rather a large package for a simple bird.

So she went. Which is no surprise.

Her stepmother and sisters didn't

recognize her without her cinder face

and the prince took her hand on the spot

and danced with no other the whole day.

As nightfall came she thought she'd better

get home. The prince walked her home

and she disappeared into the pigeon house

and although the prince took an axe and broke

it open she was gone. Back to her cinders.

These events repeated themselves for three days.

However on the third day the prince

covered the palace steps with cobbler's wax

and Cinderella's gold shoe stuck upon it.

Now he would find whom the shoe fit

and find his strange dancing girl for keeps.

He went to their house and the two sisters

were delighted because they had lovely feet.

The eldest went into a room to try the slipper on

but her big toe got in the way so she simply

sliced it off and put on the slipper.

The prince rode away with her until the white dove

told him to look at the blood pouring forth.

That is the way with amputations.

They just don't heal up like a wish.

The other sister cut off her heel

but the blood told as blood will.

The prince was getting tired.

He began to feel like a shoe salesman.

But he gave it one last try.

This time Cinderella fit into the shoe

like a love letter into its envelope.

At the wedding ceremony

the two sisters came to curry favor

and the white dove pecked their eyes out.

Two hollow spots were left

like soup spoons.

Cinderella and the prince

lived, they say, happily ever after,

like two dolls in a museum case

never bothered by diapers or dust,

never arguing over the timing of an egg,

never telling the same story twice,

never getting a middle-aged spread,

their darling smiles pasted on for eternity.

Regular Bobbsey Twins.

That story.
Anne Sexton (1928-1974)

Monday, August 15, 2011

What's the Strangest Thing That Ever Happened To You In The Subways Of New York City?

What Do You Expect...It's New York! 
Well here's my story...

I was most likely in my junior year of college at the time and my good friend and I were headed to one of our usual excursions in the city. It was a typical subway ride, for about five stops or so. Then it happened.

A nearly naked older woman entered our subway car. If I had to guess, I would say she was probably in her late fifties, maybe older. She was wearing underwear and a bra with a stained sash over her chest, but I couldn't quite make out what was written on the sash because she was fidgeting way too much. She was clearly a little loopy (ok a lot loopy) and blabbing about a bunch of nonsense. In retrospect, she was probably going on about senior equality rights or something.

Clutched in her sun-spotted hands was a bulletin board with a sign-up sheet that had absolutely no signatures on it. How did I know there were no signatures on the sign-up sheet? Well when she approached me with her incessant ranting. She finally ended her dazzling speech with this little gem. “Will you sign my sign-up sheet so I can run for “Miss USA?" But it didn’t end there, oh no it did not. She also wanted me to sponsor her.

I looked at her in sheer disbelief. She regarded me with urgent expectation. I slowly turned to my friend and then we both turned to her.

Luckily for us, the next stop was approaching. It wasn’t our targeted destination but trust me when I say, there were no complaints. As soon as those sliding doors opened, we high-tailed it out of there with a vengeance and laughed ourselves silly on the platform until the next train arrived.

Aaaah, I love New York! There’s truly never a dull moment.

Men Repellers

Do you wake up in the morning and think, gosh I really want to drastically decrease my sex appeal today? But no, not just decrease it, I want to make it so it plummets to -0. Yes that’s it!

If that’s your intention who am I to deter you from your path to total spinsterhood. As a matter of fact, I’ll be your fairy godmother for the day. Get ready to be transformed into the ultimate men repell...(er), I mean fashionista.
I dare you to say NO to this.
Straight out of Beverly Hills baby...Jealous?

Nailed It! Colorful and cool with a ballerina edge
Just the look I was going for. I love Grandma's style!
Sniffles, Sniffles, the gang's all here!
 
It's amazing what I can accomplish with just a flick of my wand.

Exotic Beauties From Around The World

How do you define beauty?

Exotic (ig-zot-it) – Having a strange or bizarre allure, beauty, or quality.
We are all aware of the narrow standard of beauty in America. It’s all about refined facial features (symmetrical face, eyes not too narrow or wide, button nose, full lips). Along with the perfect visage, cascading lustrous hair, a tiny waist and a hefty chest are guaranteed to propel anyone into the coveted HOT category.

Now, I’m not saying that it’s wrong to find those aspects of the human body beautiful. Every culture has its own idea of beauty and the elements I’ve just stated just happen to be ours. However, I do think our ideas of what's considered beautiful are in many ways underdeveloped. Although shows like America's Next Top Model continuously strive to represent the antithesis of “safe beauty” (commercial beauty often known as the girl next door appeal), we still haven’t made much progress in emphasizing a more unconventional type of appearance. Perhaps it's because upon further inspection, those shows contradict their so-called message of universal beauty at every turn.

More people need to open their eyes to an encompassing idea of beauty and realize that our views on the subject are not the only ones that exist. There is an entire world out there brimming with different yet intriguing beauty but we are too preoccupied with our own ideals to even notice it. Broadening our perception of beauty will certainly aid us in incorporating our society’s archetype with ones from other cultures. Wouldn't that be beautiful?
Take a look at some exotic beauties from around the globe.
Ethiopian Beauty
Angolan Beauty
Thai Beauty 
Japanese Beauty
Tiny Indian Beauty
Indian Beauty 
Spanish Beauty
Venezuelan Beauty
Turkish Beauty
Russian Beauty

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Laughing Baby Micah


 
I just had to post this. Baby boy Micah is absolutely darling!
This little bundle of joy is guaranteed to put a smile on anyone's face.

Enjoy his infectious laughter.

So precious!

List-ings: 15 Things People Do That Really Rub Me The Wrong Way

Annoying Habits
1. People who blame everyone else but themselves for their short-comings.
2. People who talk a lot but never really say anything.
3. People who continue to speak to you when it’s obvious you’re not listening.

4. People who practically sit on your lap on public transportation even when there are dozens of other available seats.
5. People who linger over your shoulder while you’re on the computer or reading a book. But what is most irritating is even after you express your discomfort, they continue to stand behind you anyway…ugh!!!

6. Whining, combative, desperate women who think every woman is out to steal their mate.
7. Cocky, arrogant men who are overly concerned with their hair.
8. People who stick their grubby fingers in your food because you are "supposedly" so close that they can do anything to you and you won't be offended. That’s just gross and not to mention disrespectful.
9. Friends and family members who conveniently leave their wallet at home when it’s time to pick up the check.
10. People who call me “sista,” when we’re clearly not related. Unless you came out of my mother’s you know what, I’m not your “sista.”
11. People who censor themselves when they get really angry with theses little gems (fudge, god-darn-it or shit-take mushrooms)

12. Half-hearted apologies. If you don’t mean it, I don’t want to hear it.
13. People with dirt under their finger nails. Buy a manicure kit for crying out loud!
14. House guests who use my soap and leave little hairs on them and I’m not talking about the hairs on their heads either, yuck!
15. People who leave the door open when using the bathroom. I think we all agree that’s a collaborative, ewww!                                                                                                           

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Guilty Pleasures: Spaghetti Alla Carbonara


I thought I’d share with you my favorite way to have pasta -- alla carbonara!
I first tried spaghetti carbonara in little Italy (NYC) at a quaint little restaurant called Sofia's and let me tell you, it was love at first bite. When I finally twirled my fork around those lustrous tendrils of pasta, it wasn't soon enough. The flavors were in perfect harmony with one another. The pasta was cooked to perfection, the carbonara sauce was light yet creamy and it coated every single strand, the salty bits of bacon were like little flavor explosives which detonated in my mouth like shrapnel.

Whew! That was a mouthful.

When I returned home that day, I immediately scurried along to my laptop and began searching for the recipe, any recipe that would come close to the culinary experience I had earlier in the day. Since I already had all the ingredients in my pantry, I decided to make the dish the following evening. But I soon realized that I was way in over my head. My first attempt in making this classic Italian dish turned out to be disastrous. Although I followed the directions, quite intently I might add, the eggs, which are so pivotal to the success of this recipe, scrambled. I was so disappointed because I was really looking forward to dining on my very own spaghetti carbonara (inhaling it was more like it, I was starving).

But I didn't give up that first time. I kept on making it, not right after my little "scrambling" incidence, of course. I just ordered Chinese take-out that night (what are you gonna do). But each time I made the dish my technique improved, until I finally mastered it. Well, perhaps "mastered" is too strong of a word. I managed not to scramble the eggs, lol.

Although I've made spaghetti carbonara countless of times, I still haven't come close to recreating the one I had at Sofia's. I dont think I ever will and I'm perfectly alright with that.

Here is a recipe for spaghetti carbonara that I found on the Food Network website, courtesy of chef Tyler Florence.

Ingredients
1 pound dry spaghetti
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta or slab bacon, cubed or sliced into small strips
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper
1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Directions

Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the spaghetti will be hot and ready when the sauce is finished; it is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.

 
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until tender yet firm ("al dente.") Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of the starchy cooking water to use in the sauce if you wish.

 
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and sauté for about 3 minutes, until the bacon is crisp and the fat is rendered. Toss the garlic into the fat and sauté for less than 1 minute to soften. Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Beat the eggs and parmesan together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble (this is done off the heat to ensure this does not happen.) Thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency. Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Mound the spaghetti carbonara into warm serving bowls and garnish with chopped parsley or basil. Pass more cheese around the table. Enjoy!                                                                                            
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