who the heck knows anything, anyway

Saturday, February 25, 2012

blah blah blah Craig Finn!!! blah

Got some good brainstorming in this morning--though, as the day creeps ever onward, I find myself growing more and more skeptical of what seemed like an amazing plan this morning. If I wake up tomorrow morning for Brainstorming: Round 2 and it, again, seems like a good idea, then I'll stop talking myself out of it and give it a try.

Relatedly--i.e as a direct result of my brainstorm subjects--I got to thinking about what I will here refer to as Writing of the Times. Or we could use the German term (because they have nice, digestible words for all sort of long-winded ideas): zeitgeist.* My general opinion of contemporary (I'm going to further this by adding "white" and/or possibly "male") American fiction that falls into this zeitgeist category is: I don't like it. Subconsciously, I think, I've turned myself against the whole idea of writing the next Great American Novel because I haven't liked any of them for quite some time. Now, this may be an issue I have with white, male authors writing about ennui or living in Brooklyn or what have you (basically, I find anything that reads like the couple from the film Beginners acts to be extremely alienating. And dull), but whatever the cause, I have been turned off by most contemporary American lit** for some time.

Then I thought really hard about it. I thought about why I don't like those books. Yes, part of it is subject matter, but isn't it important to capture the contemporary zeitgeist for future generations? Isn't that why Jack Kerouac still sends 18 year-olds reeling the first time they read On the Road? Isn't that why we all feel a strange nostalgia for times we never lived in (kudos, Woody Allen, for making an absolutely lovely film about what has been plaguing creative people for generations)?

I feel I haven't been giving our zeitgeist enough credit. I feel the problem I have is less the spirit of what America is living/struggling through and more that the books are not as good as they could be. After all, Busy Monsters was zeitgeisty and brilliant and horribly under-raved about. I would like to nominate it for Great American Novel fame, please.

So maybe it wouldn't be terrible if I write about what I know, what my friends know, what we grew up knowing, how our world has changed. Just because I'm twenty-three and grew up in the Pacific NW doesn't mean my present-day novel is doomed to be some Hipster Manifesto; or any historical reflections, about the Oregon Trail. I have a knack for writing elegant prose. Why not combine it with something a little gritty? It's not as though I know enough to do much else. (I would be an idiot to assume I'll write a brilliant novel at my age. That used to be possible, but I don't believe it is anymore.***)

Last night we went to see Craig Finn at the Crocodile. It was amazing. There's a guy who's brilliant and contemporary. That's largely why I respect him so much. AND. At the end of the show, he signed my bandana. It is now hanging on the wall. (!!!!!)

Anyways, here are pictures!

that's my red head with the bandana on it. FRONT ROW, BIZZITCHES.

this man is my hero

"Stay Positive! Craig Finn" awww YISS

And with that, I'm going to eat dinner.  I think some of my footnotes sounded grumpier than they otherwise would have, because my blood sugar has taken a thrilling nose-dive.

*And how meta it is! I hear it all the time these days, but had never heard it used before 2007/08 (though it has been around since 1848). I think I first heard it when my roommates watched a 2007 documentary with that name, and it's blown up since then. My point: The very word "zeitgeist" is zeitgeisty.

**There are obviously a few exceptions. 

***People are allowed/encouraged to be children much longer than they used to be. I think this stunts the novel-writing process, because (unlike many forms of art, in which very young people can be geniuses) prose requires years of things like observation, hardship, complex emotional understanding, etc. Etc. Etc. You get what I'm saying.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Eat That Fish, etc.

Productive news!: I finally got all of my otter comics (official comic title: Eat That Fish) situated on their own little site. They've been retro-dated and tagged with key-words for ease. It's pretty fun to look at them in order and all in one place.
If you want to read them, go here: http://eatthatfish.tumblr.com/.
Might want to bookmark it (I recommend Google Reader/your RSS feed of choice, or tumblr, as is handy), as I probably won't tell you guys on here every time it updates, and I'm not yet coordinated enough to say something insane like "updates every T/Th!". That is too much to expect from me. I mean, I don't even get around to putting on grown-up clothes every day. Sometimes I just eat sauerkraut for meals. This is not what a coordinated adult looks like.

Death, from my comic
Writing comics has become my source of therapy. It's free, if you don't include paper and pen costs. Even then: does not cost me $100 an hour, and you don't need insurance. Plus, no awkward shrink break-ups if you don't vibe with them.

So earlier this week, I had this idea to personify my obsession with/sometimes fear of death as a grim reaper who only says--in best Ryan-Gosling-meme* fashion--"Hey Girl". The "hey girl" bit was accidental, actually. I drew it as a hilarious joke for myself, and then it was immediately apparent that this was going to be Death's shtick. It's funny (to me, at least) and makes an infinite, scary, existential concept into a physical entity I can engage with sanely. As a reader, these personifications in stories have often been entertaining and, at their best, enlightening, but it suddenly makes sense to me why years and years of writers (comics, prose, poetry, etc) have embodied ideas in this way: for the author, it's a means of taming monsters. The reader gets the benefit of some introspection, humor, etc, but the author gains ground on their demons. For one wonderful minute, Death is no longer a terrifying creature of fate and inevitability; he is reduced to an innocent caricature.

I hope to continue embracing things that freak me out (how I feel about my body/appearance, my writing insecurities, worries about the future, whatever else my brain comes up with to cause anxiety attacks) and drawing them--with cute otters. Goofy webcomics will save me until I feel like I can write prose again (and, Lord, may that be soon).

Lent starts today. Good ol' Ash Wednesday. Though my relationship with Catholicism is complicated at best, I think Ash Wednesday is particularly beautiful and haunting. I half-consider finding a mass to attend every year, but I never do. Sometimes I really do miss it. That's why people like religion so much, right? Community, ritual, tradition, and the pleasure of shared belief. It's that last one that's the real kicker. Once you don't share that anymore, it's alienating instead of inviting.


Ok, I'm going to go fix up my CV now. Very exciting.

*for those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here are some examples:

 Librarian Hey Girl
 Ex Boyfriend Ryan Gosling
Feminist Ryan Gosling

Etcetera. I think you get why this is so great. I'm also a big fan of the crafting version, Handmade Ryan Gosling.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Guys. Guys. I've been feeling some feelings lately. I have not been blogging regularly. I'm sorry. I will think of something nice to say this week. In the meantime, here are some pictures of things.

Joan of Arc was tattooed on my arm. It has given me +10 toughness, as you can see.

Then my hair was dyed red, as you can see. This exact picture (obviously not taken at my salon) is my dad and I* at a wine bar in P-town where my aunt Jean was singing with her band, 21June. They're recording an album! Swank.

Well, would you look at that! Here's the band!

This is my mama (on the right) and our neighbor Karen, enjoying the music, wine, and fun conversation. A lot of our family attended--we couldn't even get everyone into a single picture because we tend to spread out like...moss, or a very endearing rash.

Back at home: Daniel models a hat I made. In this shot, he is demonstrating how a lumberjack cuts down a tree.

I did go here last week, and it was the best thing ever. Plus, I got to spend this weekend with my cousins, which is always a great time. Now I'm going to take a late-afternoon Sunday Nap. Maybe I'll wake up and feel inspired in some direction. Or I'll make dinner, do some dishes, and putz around on Pinterest in my pjs. Who knows? The future is one big mystery.**

*I just noticed that my papa and I have the same left-cheek dimple. Adorable.
**oh Fate, you saucy wench.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

FOOD POST. Or: How to make the best pierogi

I debated for a while whether or not I was going to share this recipe, but I like the idea of sharing knowledge, so it would be silly of me to keep it a secret. I'm going to warn you right now, before you get in too deep, that it might be a little difficult to make these without help or without having previously made them under someone's expert guidance (see: my mother). However, I did try to break down the instructions in such a way as to make it easier on you. My recipe is basically just the list of dough ingredients and the amount of boiling time. The potato filling? We basically just make up new ones every time, so why write it down? Well, lucky for you, I sort of took note of what I was doing last Friday so I could spread the love.

So, without further ado, I give you--
PIEROGI! Or: my favorite food. (note: all photos used below are mine)

I got the dough recipe from my mom*, and we invented our own special ruskie filling over Christmas. I don't have pictures of Friday's batch all fried up and covered in sauerkraut/scallion/sour cream/caramelized onion goodness, because we ate them too quickly. They were so freaking good. And the recipe makes enough for about 60-70 pierogi, so I have dough and filling left over in the freezer for Pierogi 2: The Pierogining.

What makes such a blissful ruskie filling, you ask? Well, hey, how about I become your new best friend by sharing the recipe. This is hella Polish-legit, so, you know, your arteries will not thank you, but your mouth and belly and the pleasure-centers of your brain will.

Kerry & Killian Czuba's Most Superb Pierogi Recipe
Makes: about 60-70 pierogi
Prep & Cook Time: most of your day. This is not a recipe for the faint of heart.

2 cups sour cream
4.5 cups flour
2 tblsp melted butter
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
2 tsp salt
2 tblsp oil

Mix ingredients and knead for 3-4 minutes. Let rest for 10 min. Roll out (you can use a little flour, but you want the dough to be a little wetter. As Daniel quickly learned, this is very different from pizza dough) and cut into 2-3'' circles (cookie cutters or a tumbler/similarly wide-rimmed glass will do the trick). See Assembly and cooking for the rest!

RUSKIE (potato and cheese) FILLING!:
2 lbs yukon gold 'taters
1/2-1 yellow onion, caramelized
3/4-1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup of delicious cheese, grated. (I used aged Manchego because they didn't have the non-aged kind at the grocery store. Both work very well, though, as it turns out. Aged Manchego is a bit more tart, which balances well with the sweetness of the onions)
pinch of salt and black pepper, to taste (they're back-up flavors here, so go easy on them)

Peel and quarter potatoes and throw 'em in a pot. Let them boil and then simmer until they're tender but not disintegrating (a knife should slide through easily). While they're simmering away, caramelize that onion! It takes probably about 15 minutes (but don't quote me on that). Keep an eye on them, and tend to them lovingly throughout. When done, they should be soft and light brown, not burned. Take them off the stove and set them aside. Then mash your potatoes! I used a hand masher. Squish 'em real good, adding the milk to keep them nice and creamy. Continue squishing, and add other non-onion ingredients. Once thoroughly-squished, stir in the onions. TA DAA! Taste it, and nod knowingly. Then taste it again, just to be sure. Feel free to continue tasting it.

Alright. Now that you have a bunch of little dough circles and a big bowl of filling, it's time to combine forces. Spoon the filling into the circles (see photo above. I didn't measure so much as used-a-regular-spoon-to-dollop-the-amount-that-"felt-right"). Then, with expert dexterity, pinch the sides together so it looks like a fat, moon-shaped dumpling! I didn't need to use and water to seal mine up, but if your dough has been sitting out for a while, wet your fingers JUST A LITTLE while you're pinching them. Once they're all prepped and ready to go**, bring a pot of water (with a pinch of salt) to a boil. Boil pierogi for 10 minutes, in small groups. While pierogi are boiling, heat up a frying pan with butter to medium heat (the size of your pan and the size of your pot, combined, will dictate how many pierogi you can cook at a time. I could do 5, max.). After the pierogi are done boiling, fry them in the pan until lightly browned on both sides. While they're frying, throw the next round into the water to boil. Repeat until all pierogi are fried up.

I'm a sauerkraut enthusiast, so I consider it a "must"
chopped chives or scallions
more caramelized onions (I used 1/2 the onion in my potatoes and saved the other half for topping)
sour cream

Cover pierogi with toppings, and EAT THEM ALL.

I served them with a cucumber vinegar salad. Which was also hella bomb, but you can find recipes for that pretty easily on the interwebs. My great grandma used to make cucumbers in vinegar for picnic-style eating out in the orchard during the summer time. I remember that, as a little girl, I was amazed that cucumbers in vinegar are not the same thing as pickles, and that they are also wonderfully refreshing. Also, as we all learned from Wooden Teeth and Jelly Beans, cucumbers in vinegar were President Grant's favorite food. Neato!

Making them with my mom over Christmas. (She did most of the hard work with these ones.)

Friday's looked basically like this. These are the ones from Christmas.
We may have eaten (read: inhaled) ours too quickly this weekend to get a photo of the finished product.
*If you look up pierogi dough recipes online, you will be bombarded with simple, low-cal versions. Water and flour? That's it? REALLY? No, that's not it. You need like 3 eggs, 2 cups of sour cream, butter, and oil along with your flour. Those ingredients are what make a real pierogi.
**Pro tip: if you want to freeze them, do it BEFORE you cook them. Lay the pierogi on a wax-paper-lined cookie sheet and freeze for a couple of hours. Once frozen, you can transfer them from cookie sheets to freezer bags. This way they won't stick together. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

cats and cribbage and stuff

It's been a while since I did a general lifey-y update instead of a focused one (/rant), so I thought maybe I'd do that right now. Especially because my brain needs a break from this essay I'm writing.*

Flannery has been varying degrees of sick for the past few weeks. We've seen the vet...four times, I think. Four times in four weeks! But today she seems to be improving (!! yessss!!!!!) and Daniel and I are pretty excited about that. We should be hearing from the vet today about any other things we possibly have to be concerned with, but our fingers are crossed for something like "she's rounded the corner and will be fit as a fiddle in no time." That would be extra neat.

Speaking of  fit fiddles, it occurred to me last night, as I was getting ready for bed, that the phrase "Pleased as punch" probably has nothing to do with the drink and everything to do with Punch from Punch and Judy. I consulted the internet and was promptly informed that I WAS TOTALLY RIGHT. Which is pretty disturbing, because, you know, Punch was a homicidal wife-abuser, and I don't especially want to be as pleased as a sociopath at any time. Nonetheless, 10 points for Gryffindor.**

Also occurring last night (I'm so good at segues today!): Daniel and I felt like playing cribbage (because we're old people), so we made our own cribbage board (because we don't own one) using the technique known as (depending on your social group) "exquisite corpse" or "eat poop you cat". It looks like this:

Our little marker dudes were a bobby pin (Daniel) and a tiny safety pin (me) shoved into some Sculpey.

It was a great success. Daniel beat me at the very end of the game because he got to count first, and we both had HELLA crazy hands (we were 8 from the finish, and his hand gave him 14 points. My hand--plus the crib, which was mine that round--would have given me 21 points. INSANE. We had been getting hands of 6 max before this point). The whole building-the-board-then-playing-the-game thing was extra fun, which we had earned, considering the things we dealt with yesterday were fairly hellish: because we were worried about the cat, we stayed up with her all night, taking sleeping shifts that totaled 2.5 hours each. After zero sleep, we had to take her to the vet, where poor kitty had to hang out from 9am until 1pm (they shaved her front leg to give her a sedative injection, shoved a tube down her throat, probably took her temperature up her butt, etc). All this in addition to having bronchitis and maybe something else, too. She was not pleased when we picked her up. But, like I said, now she's doing better and sleeping on my chair!

we took this the other day. didn't want to embarrass her by showing her shaved leg to the internet.
This is her regular sleeping position, when she isn't sleeping on your chest. HOW IS THIS ANIMAL REAL? Sigh. So cute. This is why we've spent a billion dollars on the vet visits. If she and Watson were ever in the same room together, my brain would explode. Just thinking about it makes me short-circuit a little.

Right! Hourly Comic Day was yesterday. I knew this, but due to not-sleeping-and-being-busy-with-serious-things circumstances, I did not participate. Bummer. I was pretty stoked about doing it this year. But who's to say you can only do an hourly on Feb. 1? I don't know if I'll have time today, but maybe I'll pick a day this weekend/next week and just do mine late. Hourlies are so fun! I wish webcomics people would do them more often. I like getting glimpses into their glamorous lives.


My cousin, Kaitrin, got me this friggin' rad, Kate-Beaton-designed David Bowie mug (KB is the best, yo. Buy her merch, and also her book), which I have been using nonstop. There is always tea in it. I have breakfast all day long. Kaitrin, like Kate Beaton, is the best. Obvs.

Hmmmm. What else? Ooooh, I got my Craig Finn CD today. Listened to it while wearing my sweet new bandana. haha. I'm the coolest, guys. Definitely.

Aaaand here's a picture of a tiny bowl and tiny jewels I made to hold the BPAL perfumes/cologne we are currently using.

I can, on occasion, be fancy. Sort of.

Ok, all done! For now.

*Man. I have to say, I kind of like the idea of writing a craft analysis in a more casual, excited (bloggish, perhaps? though a particularly well-focused blog) manner. Switching my brain into Removed, Academic Mode makes all of my opinions sound oddly aloof--and I am only aloof in real life when I secretly hate something but am trying to be polite. Or maybe when I'm really tired and my listening skills are running on "low". Either way, it's not that it's all that difficult to write an academic paper--I just don't like the tone as much. PARTICULARLY when said-essay will be used in a grad school application. You aren't really getting to know me and what I appreciate when gushing is frowned upon.
**Daniel made a sweet Sorting Hat quiz with interesting moral questions. It's much more difficult to game. You can't just be like "omg, I am brave and a good guy, so, GRYFFINDOR" or "yeah, I'm, like, the smart kid. RAVENCLAW" or "I'm nice. HUFFLEPUFF" or , most importantly, "my only attribute is evil. SLYTHERIN." Because that's dumb. Anywho, according to this sweet quiz, I'm in Gryffindor! Neat. Daniel's in Ravenclaw. This is unsurprising. Also, side note, although the books would lead you to assume otherwise, Slytherin is not actually a bad house, based on its rhyme-proposed attributes and our quiz goes by these listed attributes. On the other hand, due to some obvious biases in characterization, one might assume J.K. is proposing that anyone with ambition is a bad person. Interesting. Maybe I should writer a paper about it. Actually, NOPE.