in for a penny

October 30, 2009

yes, in for a pound.  i’m jumping off the virtual cliff next week and heaven help me.  i am switching from being a die-hard palm user (palm pilot, tx, treo and a bunch in between from the very 1st to the very last) and next friday will become an early adapter on the new verizon droid.  i’ve been waiting a long time.  and i was waiting for verizon to get the new palm pre – even tho i recognized that this new palm software was completely different in every way than what i had used for years.  once i wrapped my head around that, i started thinking about really switching systems altogether.  but i would not go to at&t or sprint – both have horrible coverage and/or service and if you’re complaining about these things here in new york city, then you’re really in trouble once you leave the land of cell phone nirvana. 

i am very very very picky about my technology.  i spend a lot of time thinking about just what i need and how to find the programs to make that happen.  i have an extensive and well-organized selection of memos from my palm desktop that i will need to rethink – how to get them on my new phone and with what program?  i have to get used to outlook – always been on a palm desktop.  luckily the program pocketcopy did exactly what it was supposed to do (as i held my breath) and transferred years and years and years of contacts and calendar and notes to my new outlook.  (i refuse to use my company’s exchange/calendar.  there is simply no reason to have any corporation know that much about you.)  and this phone has a real keyboard.  try as i might, i cannot type on a virtual keyboard.

so i’m jumping into the android pool.  except i’m expecting it to be an ocean.  my head is swimming – ha ha …i guess pun intended! 


the new droid


4 years behind me.

October 26, 2009

and tomorrow, 4 years and 1 day.  today is my 4 year ‘anniversary’ of the sad and awful day i was diagnosed with breast cancer.  i won’t dwell too much on that day except to say that it was a surreal nightmare that seemed to go on and on.  of course, that might have been the copious amounts of xanax i ingested in order to find some way to keep breathing.  that xanax.  that was an eye-opener for a girl who didn’t take pharmaceuticals!  (actually, more like an eye-closer because even 1/2 a tiny dose put me right to sleep.)

i’m a little nervous to even ‘talk’ about it but then i reasoned that it is simply a fact.  and tomorrow, i will be 4 years and 1 whole other day away from that stupid fucking day. 

i’m 29 pounds lighter and have immeasurably improved my cholesterol and ldl’s and hdl’s and whatever other dl’s there are to improve.  i have hair.  i have stuff.  i have the most wonderful husband and am utterly in love with my quirky teenage daughter, no matter how many times she rolls her eyes at me.  i let myself sing at the top of my lungs (and, i promise you, that is inconceivably loud) when i’m in the basement on my wonderful elliptical.   for the moment, i’ve stopped compulsively eating between meals.  brooklyn is still one of the coolest places to live.  we have plans to travel more.  i have friends i like.  i feel here. 

happy anniversary?

October 16, 2009

i slipped up today.  i was at an early morning appointment with a customer who i have been working with for a long time now.  we were discussing when his husband was returning from a long out-of-town trip so that we could schedule some showings in a few weeks.  standing on the street as people hurried past us toward the subway, we were filled with a little exhilaration about the possibilities of what we had just seen and the good feeling that we would all together be able to put ‘boots to the ground’ for a push in showings once his husband returned.  i turned on my treo and went to my calendar and flipped the date forward two weeks to october 26th – the first date we could all go out together – and said, without thinking: “oh, that’s my anniversary!”.  instantly the response came back: “how sweet, congratulations!”  and i found myself saying: “oh no, not that anniversary; my cancer anniversary.”   


looking into his eyes i realized that he did not know.  i always think everyone knows.  i thought it was written across my face and my psyche for the past almost-4 years.  leaving behind the memory of my reflection sans hair in every store window i passed for a year doesn’t fade quickly.  i am only just catching up to processing the acres of time i spent laying in bed willing time to go by: sometimes so that i could get to the next anti-nausea pill or sometimes so i could get to the next pain killer (oh that taxol!) or sometimes so i could get to the end of the day just to put that day behind me.  i had to become a new person – not necessarily a better one…just a different one – to be able to talk to people while i was ‘in the process’.  the new one looked fragile but tried to not act it.  looked sick and tried to find a few funny lines to help shrug off the visuals and the assumptions.  moved like a frail old woman and tried to replace fitness with slowly lunking along my brooklyn streets and coming up with potential cancer song-parody lines. 

i know, you’d think that almost-4 years is a long time.  it is and it isn’t.  it’s just enough time to start to come out of the shell-shock of it all.  i’d say that happened for me around three years – and remember that 10 months of the 1st year were taken up with surgery then chemotherapy then radiation then a month of essentially sleeping all the time.  for the past year i have highs where my heart can’t remember for a few fleeting moments that any of it ever happened and then deep lows where i am reminded that i learned the real lesson and cliche that life truely turns on a dime.  it all changes in a moment with no notice.  those are moments of deep terror both in anticipation of what might come and to try to come to terms with the precipice on which i found myself standing.  the possiblity of losing my family and them losing me. 

i looked straight into his eyes.  ‘breast cancer.  almost 4 years ago.  i thought you knew.’  ‘no, i didn’t realize’ came back the reply as his eyes tried to find a focus on me that i saw changed what he had seen up til now.  ‘it’s a good thing’, i said.  ‘that was 4 years ago.’  i smiled.  ‘here i am!’

wok me up

October 12, 2009

i don’t know why it has taken me so long to actually use the carbon-steel wok bought over a month ago. ok, backing up the story, there was a HUGE carbon-steel wok bought as a gift from my brother-in-law in chinatown – he who could stir-fry your recycled computer paper and make it taste like a gift from the asian gods – but it became quickly apparent that this behemoth of a wok was not appropriately sized for our stove. gas stove tho it may be. and, heaven help us, no exhaust hood. (our stove is from the 1940’s – in many ways a killer cooktop because it has 4 burners with a big open area in between the 2 sides but a pretty small oven..i’ve had thanksgiving turkeys skim the top.) so it took about 4 months to come to terms with the giving away of the mega wok and then we found ourselves in manhattan chinatown about a month ago and we went to the same housewares store and the extremely nice owner (happy to sell us our 2nd wok) helped us pick a suitably-sized wok and suitably-sized scraper.

i did what i always do with new cooking equipment in our house – i circled it for a while. i guess most people rip the appliance or pot or skillet out of the packaging and plunk it down on the stove for immediate use but i have never been that person. i like to live with it for a minute. i look at it. theoretically, it looks at me. not to sound too new-agey – which i am not – but i get it’s vibe. then, for some unknown reason, it’s time. i just know.

i took great care seasoning it. i’m afraid our house walls paid the price…some pork fat methodically slicked across every bit of extremely heated surface – 4 passes over 4 days and i had a seasoned wok.

then i circled it for a while.

tonite there was lift-off. i bought a passel of green beans – and, sans a recipe, did a little mise en place…made sure verything was at my fingertips. heated the wok and when i saw the smoke rise, put in some sesame/canola oil. in they went…and the scraper was the perfect size – flip flip flip flip; a few cloves of finely minced garlic; flip flip flip flip – letting them settle a lot to get lots of good black wok-roasted goodness on them; a little soy sauce; a 1/2 teaspoon of garlic chili paste (i cannot remember the name of the company but it’s that magnificent company that has a rooster on the bottle and makes the chili sauce found at all really good vietnamese restaurants) and a small amount of water because the green beans needed a little moisture – just a little – wooosh…and then a 1/2 tsp. of sugar at the end. soooooooo crunchy and spicey and good. it may take some work for me to get used to this style of cooking. i’m a braiser. all things slow and adjusted. this is all things fast and adjust right then and there on the fly. and i’m trying to be careful and aware of too much extra oily stuff in my food as i work on keeping my daily diet healthy and lowfat.   oh, and my house is smokey!

how will i cook?

October 5, 2009

i deeply mourn the news that conde nast will stop publication of ‘gourmet’ magazine.  this iconic magazine has been publishing for over 70 years and has over 1 million subscribers.  many of whom would have, i am sure, paid a little more to offset the loss of ad revenue.  gourmet has been an inspiration to me and often a confirmation of the solid culinary ground i always felt working in the kitchen.  i was once inspired to write to them over an article on pies.  pies.  so perfectly basic and so perfect.  they are keeping bon appetit…a magazine so subpar that it is often given away as a bonus subscription with purchases of other stuff.  feh.  life has truely changed and, this time, not for the better. 

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