Wednesday, December 30, 2020

For Peace and Trust Can Win the Day Despite All of Your Losing

Maybe it was a refreshing distraction from all the ugly reality we're living in right now but during the full moon the Hilaria Baldwin story popped in to my orbit and I held it like a sweet baby.   Knowing nothing about her, at first I took her side in the kind of ignorant argument you can only have with your partner of too many years during your morning intake of too much caffeine.  P introduced the story to me the night before with video footage back up and his version of research.

The story is quite fascinating when you really break it down.  On the surface it's all a bunch of silliness.  Some unknown girl takes on a more exotic persona maybe because she and apparently her family just love the culture so much of Spanish people. She meets and cons an iconic celebrity liberal with this alluring Latina facade and lives successfully ever after.  Until, one day, a couple of chance circumstances blast light onto the whole farce.  Truth has a way of popping to the surface no matter how much you push it away and with all of this evidence a click away, I'm super surprised it has taken this long.  I had no idea how many times she'd milked this cow, on TV even!

She has absolutely zero Spanish blood.  She comes from an upper crust Boston family and lived in a 4 Million dollar mansion on Beacon Hill until her parents moved to Spain after she was 20 and she moved to New York to attend NYU at 19.  They visited Spain.  Visited!  No matter how much you speak Spanish in your all white home, and I don't know why you would, seriously, I still don't believe you'd form a legitimate accent.  And unless you visited Spain every day for all of your childhood, do I believe you could ever forget how to pronounce the word Cucumber.

Still, I figured, there is no law saying you can't fake an accent.  Although, cultural appropriation is definitely frowned upon especially when you use it for personal gain.  And being featured in Latina magazines and hailed as a successful immigrant, definitely falls into that category.  She claims she had no idea ALL of these publications and sites claimed she was born in Spain because she never read the articles.  Because when you're featured in a major publication, why would you bother right?  Busy woman, I get it.  

All signs pointed, at the very least, to a clever opportunist.

After reading much more about her than I ever wanted to know I settled on my list of charges.  Misleading the public, cultural appropriation, impersonating someone more interesting,  and perhaps the worst, naming her children Spanish names that they'll need to live with as a reminder of their mother's self indulgent fantasy. So, it's a deliberate, long running grift as P could not quit pointing out to me.  

I work with mostly all real immigrants that are bilingual.  Most of my customers are immigrants that are bilingual.  I see their very real struggles, extremely hard work and constant efforts to gain the American Dream.  This girl could not be farther from all of these ideas.  

I thought back on growing up in the Midwest as a Mexican-American and how coincidentally we had to say we were Spanish in order to be accepted even in my East End crackhead, incest-filled neighborhood.  And then moving to San Francisco where I was shamed for not owning my woman-of-color crown, or even realizing I had one.  Later in New York, shamed for not knowing how to speak Spanish by some and not being ethnic enough for others to call myself anything.  Nothing I lost sleep over but it's all part of me.  At times I would have done anything not to be different than my friends but now embrace the bits there are left of my third generation culture.

It's so easy but I really do hate judging people.  Still, after all we've been through this year, I can't help but get a weird kick out of all of this.  In fact I learned a new word from P to describe it, Schadenfreude; Experiencing joy from the misfortunes of others.  In a world more divided by the have and have nots, it's hard to have a lot of compassion for the elite, the rich, celebrities especially opportunists but in the end, I guess that's exactly what we're supposed to do.  If you only had to have empathy for the people you like, we'd all be enlightened by now.   I do agree this young, woman did a lot of wrong and her beloved liberal celebrity husband probably realized this week that he got duped for years and it's all being televised in real time.  They'll figure it out and will be just fine.  I would suggest giving a huge load to an organization to help real, Latin women to come up in business.  Now, our only question is the next time she rolls that Rrrrrr or slips in her little accent will they both go silent for a brief moment before carrying on?

Riding with the Wolf Moon home, I stopped to howl at a light.

Earlier at work, I ate lunch looking out onto the harbor
Lady Liberty waving the torch to give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, the tempest tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

You're Rock Candy Baby, Hard, Sweet and Sticky

A rare Christmas and Christmas Eve off was enough for celebration, let alone a promised storm rolling through.  How blessed we were to have this moment in time.  
New Year's Eve Plate 
Ba'Corn Casserole from Food Wishes
In researching a fun side dish I came across this Korean snack food that seemed fitting for a seat at 2020's dinner plate.  I wanted everything to be bold and packed with a punch to the gut, like the entire year.  The sweet and salty ham represented all the surprisingly positive struggles that happened and now continue into the next, the roasted, sticky pineapple chunks drunk on pan juices beneath.   The once fresh, innocent fruit baked, broiled, and caramelized to it's bursting point, only to return markedly better.  The cheesy, spicy, bacon corn casserole, a magical medley of all the good memories, each corn kernel representing a great day had.  The buttery corn bread symbolized the newly formed solace in daily activities, pulled from inside in these unsettling times. 
Chipotle Pineapple Glazed Ham

Pecan Pumpkin Bread
An afterthought desert came in the form of this pumpkin bread that turned out to be a sweet delight! Walnuts and toasted pecans subbed for ginger, cloves and walnuts to make it perfectly moist.  I could understand God in a bread like this. That little crunch of the toasted oatmeal mixed in as a reminder to stop and notice what is good, always.  
Tiny Crock Queso Blanco
Finally a use for that tiny little crock pot that came with the larger one.  A queso snack for dipping symbolized how small indulgences have provided so much joy this year.   
Skillet Buttermilk Cornbread

P's Holiday Bloody Mary
After all is said and done, it's natural we'd remember 2020 for it's abundance of bad news.  So much that most of it went unstudied like roadkill from a speeding car.  Who has time to process all of the muck,  to form solid opinions before a dozen other catastrophes took their place?  I can only trust we have to keep feeding the right wolf while acknowledging the deep humor in all of it, especially the parts we play rolls in.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Friday, December 18, 2020

Your Love is Like a Roller Coaster Baby

The weeks leading up to the holidays this year were as disjointed as this collage of pictures and food offerings from the staff cafeteria.  A slew of crazy hours, unsure if I was coming or going and it felt like the world felt the same way.  I would say dream-like, only the kind of you get when you've gone to bed just after eating Chinese food or drinking heavy.  Nothing quite makes sense and the whole time you're saying to yourself, this is weird.  Weather was gorgeous then cold as hell.  Nothing bad happened to me, just some close calls with family and of course the current overall apocalyptic feel of our world hovering over like a bad stink.  Which really makes me realize how much I'm influenced by what I read versus what I actually experience.  
Sis Rach's sunset in Colorado
When you commission an unknown artist for the church Nativity Scene
Spaghetti and Meatballs with steamed broccoli
The Red Hook Housing Projects.  
Walking through the Red Hook Housing Projects to get to work on a too snowy for riding day, I tried to imagine the thoughts of residents on Christmas morning with this as your main scene.  Surely not the worst, I mean I work with many fine folks that live here. I would say they have more troubles than most but seem more okay than not, I just think for a child it might be pretty grim.  
Sauerkraut dog and Chips
Men at work on new construction next door-see them working in the cold?
Can't wait!
A bunch of PIgs in Zen
The subway platform at Smith and 9th in Brooklyn, escalators down for the 8 flight walk up. 
A Faceless masked stranger on the subway
Safe on home turf

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Dipping In the Pocket of Her Raincoat

Turkey Tetrazzini with Spaghetti Squash
I lightened this major comfort dish with roasted Spaghetti Squash and just a few strands of real pasta.  I replaced the heavy cream with a dollop of sour cream and used up my turkey stock to make the bechamel sauce.  Also, I'm not a girl to have Sherry around, so forget that nonsense, didn't need it, I'm sure it's lovely.  But for sure make this, as Amanda mentions in her Striped Spatula site (below), even with chicken.  Mushrooms, peas, leftover turkey breast in a creamy sauce with bread crumbs and Parmesan, what's not to love?  And another bonus was that I was able to use up the rest of my carrots and celery.  All good things.  It's always a sad day when you have to throw out any unused vegetable further proving you are a complete failure and suck at everything as they plunge down to their final thud, dragging your plastic trash bag, causing it to come undone from the sides and turn in on itself.  Sometimes it feels so sad. 

The day before I watched and waited at work for a snow day announcement as a storm of the century, a ginormous bombogenesis was to fall upon the land, dumping possibly 16 inches of snow on the city like we haven't seen in years.  It would be of Trump like proportions.  I eagerly followed the radar alerts.....
.....and tried to be at the window the moment the mayhem began. 
It did snow and sleet and blow like crazy.  We stayed open until 7pm and I was able to walk to the subway to feel the elements as I like to do sometimes in extreme weather.  Be in it, let the freezing ice slap my face until my mascara melts as I walk with hunched shoulders, head down, hands in pockets against the bitter wind.  You feel so alive, it's totally worth it!  And let's face it, I won't get to do this forever.  I'll be an old lady that gets on the bus or doesn't go out at all on days like these someday, hopefully, but not too soon.  
God bless the Mexican and South American immigrants out in all weather to get your hot food delivered in record time.  No tires work in that sleet, so we witnessed several accidents that night.
I got home and it did continue but nothing much came of it.  Well, like 10 inches I believe was the final count here in the city.  Of course other areas were extremely smothered in the white powder but it was just another day here.  

For breakfast I made a quickie pan frittata of hot sausage, peppers, onions and topped with hot sauce. 

Turkey Tetrazzini recipe 

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Make You Understand Where It Was You Went Wrong

Yesterday I read my main man Tom Cruise has upset the herd by yelling at his crews in London on the set of Mission Impossible 7.  There's audio. It's unclear when this happened but since, five members have quit.  The world had a day to listen and build a verdict.  Or I should say, not sure what the real people think but what's being reported is that they feel we should demand a public apology.  Cruise is intense.  Sometimes I would imagine lines are blurred between character and man.  Maybe he has a ton of money riding on these films.  All this I do not know but only could fathom.  Who knows, maybe he's finally flipped his wig and screwed up big.  It's none of my business, even though I'd be curious and I root for him.

What are your feelings on this demanding of public apology?  To me it's a shameful false necessity created by judgemental misguided internet trolls that believe they hold the market share on morality.  But then again, I'm trying not to judge.  What a farce.  Tom Cruise yelled at his crew for good reason about breaking COVID protocol, in, of course, over the top Tom Cruise character fashion.  This is all in my opinion.  What we really know about it, is very little and there are probably hundreds of details missing.  Was his tone inappropriate in a work environment?  Probably.  Does anyone have the right to scream you motherF#*ckers at employees?  Not really.  Should we care about a situation like this that has NOTHING to do with us, where we are not affected in the least?  I still believe, no, no we shouldn't.  Do we really need another reason to feel outraged right now?  It almost feels like we look for ways to be offended but why? What purpose does it really serve?  It certainly hasn't made anything better.  Can you have an opinion?  Of course!  Talk it over with your friends and family, those closest to you.  Write a short on a blog or better yet, write a whole dang book and publish it.  But demanding public atonement from a celebrity who is for all intents and purposes, not real to us and who by the way I feel, could stay that way for a better, I can't get behind that.  Tom Cruise the real person is just that, some real guy with all kinds of flaws.  Let's keep actors as blank slates in order to believe their characters.   Frankly, it's disheartening right now that people seem to be needy at a time when we have such bigger issues.  Needy, yet judgemental and damning as heck.  It's getting to be a bit of a drag.  

Then again, all I have to do is ignore the articles and I'm out of it.  I have a hard time ignoring Cruise news though.  He's the kind of nuts I can get behind because no one runs like Cruise, no one is hilariously intense in romantic scenes like Cruise and he makes amazing action movies.  For me, he's one of our Hollywood greats right now.   When you want big, you go Cruise.

I came home from work and needed real food, something that comes out of the ground and hasn't been processed to high heaven.  I wanted the oven on and to cut something.  It was great to hear the crack from splitting the Bok Choy.  Real things.  That's what we need more of right now.  The crew of Mission Impossible 7 in another country will be just fine without us all to make the universe right for them, I'm almost sure of it. 
Crispy skinned chicken thighs with Bok Choy over Polenta

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Knowing Me, Knowing You, There is Nothin' We Can Do

You can ignore some things just so long.  I've mentioned that I believe we are long-haulers, the folks that suffer lasting effects from the COVID 19 virus.  We've talked about it through the last months as various issues continued to pop up and go away.  We deal with it quite differently but in the end, this week we sort of came together for some straight talk.  P's always felt it's best to ignore everything and plow on.  This has served as his main go-to strategy for all problems through the years but he finally came clean to admit how he's been affected.  From a curious scientific standpoint, I find the abilities of the virus fascinating and almost couldn't believe we were in this minority group that has been afflicted in this way.  I stayed away from reading most articles on the subject at first because I didn't want to be influenced.  Then as it continued and in some cases, became worse, my curiosity has turned to fear so now I just want all the oddities to go away.  My gut is pulling on my spirit dragging the whole ship down.

I notice stuff, that's kind of my thing.  I can't help but focus on what I see.  Months after the virus supposedly left, it felt like maybe it didn't.  As if there was some little tiny robot inside still snooping around for organs to screw with, and screw it did.   My body has been in an immune system fight for a very long time. As I write, it's gone on for 4 or 5 days in a row.  I have good days but a lot of bad days.  Headaches, nausea, weakness, muscle aches, extreme back pain, sore eyes, brain fog, chest pain and the dreaded shortness of breath with fatigue.  I'm full on coming out like Elliot Page, this shit is real and I'm tired of pretending it's not.  

I am basically capable of going to work and not much else right now.  I do a turtle like clean of the apartment during the week, no whirlwind tasmanian devil deep cleanse like before.  Not to brag but I was kind of a task bandit, getting loads done in a short amount of time before settling in to enjoy the fruits of my labor on days off of yore.  That has changed quite a bit.  I lay in bed a lot.  I look like hell and feel even worse.   I have to believe we will come back to feeling strong soon.  But I admit, today, I am scared.  I fear that whatever this is lasts forever and also of what going another full strength round reeking havoc could do. 

Sister's homemade Christmas tamales

My Whole Foods frozen resteamed tamales, cuz... 2020

No Time to Wallow in the Mire

Hope's fire 

My pal called me last night at 5:30am in what sounded like a very crowded, noise stricken, city street.  We were in a big storm so the wind and rains must have made her trials compounded.  I could barely make out her words but understood enough to know she was in a dire emergency.  Buildings were on fire and she apparently had to evacuate.  It wasn't clear if it was her building. I could only make out that she was on the corner waiting to understand the extent.  Later she was down the street at a shelter on Avenue B.  The fire department must have moved the evacuees to dry ground.  I understood later why she chose not to come straight to my apartment, as I suggested.  She needed to understand if her building was safe and if she would be allowed to reenter.  Can you imagine it?  The beautiful church just two or three doors down entirely went up in flames as did the corner building, where it most likely started.  What a harrowing experience.  I could only imagine the shock of firemen pounding on her door, waking in such a brutal way, seconds to gather your essentials meaning phone, wallet and shoes.  As it is, getting a phone call in the middle of the night is never easy and within seconds, your mind goes to the worst scenarios.  Not to mention a sleepy mind is so slow in comprehending anything.  Within seconds we were both standing in the living room, P in my ear saying who is it, what's the matter, what's going on and I was only able to spit out short spurts, It's Hope. There's a fire. She's on the street.  I heard him say, tell her to come here, before muttering, What time is it? and drifting off. 

The phone laying near my ear gave updates periodically and finally at around 9am she was able to reenter her building, deemed unharmed.   I drifted in and out of sleep in between texts and wrestled with thoughts of guilt and gratitude that I was safe in my warm bed when my bud was out there in the middle of the night not knowing if she would lose all her possessions, during a major fire, in a Pandemic, in a Nor'Easter, in this travesty we call 2020.  What a prophetic sounding ordeal.  It could have changed her entire life. But in the end, thank God, she was spared and this morning all I can feel is deep gratitude and joy that she wasn't hurt and didn't suffer loss.  A light breakfast of a half of a half of a pizza slice and one highly seasoned poached egg on top served as a celebrational course.  

Sunday, November 29, 2020

All You Jive Turkeys Clap Your Hands!

Turkey Soup made with the leftover broth, wings and legs of the Thanksgiving bird.  Not a new idea, but definitely a winning one.  It is often hard to use up the wings and legs in particular but a word of caution;  When you simmer long to get all the flavor, every inch of that leg will give it's meat but left in it's wake are dozens of tiny tendons that are dangerous if you happen to let one slide down your throat, so take the time to fish them all out.  

I added carrots, celery, peas, corn and diced canned tomatoes as well as chunks of potatoes, a bit of leftover wild rice and of course jalapenos to make this chunky soup burst with robust flavor.  A squeeze of lemon and cilantro to garnish.