Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Food Story Contest

Originally posted on November 11, 2010

So, this woman who runs the Walkable Eastwood page online and who also posts on her own food Blog concerning great places to eat in Syracuse, decided she was going to host a food story writing contest. Sadly, I came in second place but Yay me anyway! hehe So a lot of you know I love to write and many more of you know I have a million horrifying stories about ridiculous things I have done or said. So here is the story I submitted for the food contest . . .judge for yourself . . .

As a child I was a complete and utter Daddy's girl. I looked forward to seeing him after school, having him help me with my homework and more than anything, sitting down to dinner with him and the rest of my family at the end of whatever kind of day we had all survived through. My dad might be one of the friendliest and most eloquent people I know, so sitting down to dinner with him was guaranteed to be filled with many boring stories and long narratives about completely irrelevant topics to a 12 year-old girl. You are wondering why I said I loved sitting down to dinner with him, right? Truth be told, as entertaining as he was NOT to me at that point in my life, he was funny! No, he didn't tell jokes or relate humorous anecdotes from his teaching career . . .he would be so distracted by his own chronicles that he would bite his lip, tongue or cheek. Still not so entertaining to a pre-teen. However, it was his reaction that killed me every time. He would completely stop talking, becoming extremely red in the face as the rage built and his fork and knife would inevitably rise into the air only to slam down onto the table with the expletive of "God Damnit!" It sounds scary, but when this happened, he would completely forget what he was saying as someone would start giggling. Inevitably, we all ended up in stitches and he grumbled his way through the rest of dinner.

     This story does not end here and it's important because I treasured those dinners so much. So much that when he became very ill and needed surgery around this same time, we were left with many dinners without him. It was a very stressful time with dad in the hospital and mom trying to be everything for everyone. Suddenly, no one was giggling and everyone became quite curmudgeonly. The whole scenario was at a breaking point one evening when my mom, sister and I decided that dinner out was easier than sadly picking at our food at home. We bickered the entire way from the hospital to The Retreat in Liverpool, right through the process of choosing appetizers. Our Calamari was delivered and I instantly reached for the "round pieces" as there was no way my 12-year old self was touching the "squiggly bits." My sister proceeded to pile an enormous amount of the creepy crawlies that revolted me onto my plate in an effort to pick a fight. I responded by screaming at the top of my lungs . . ."I do not WANT those testicles!" Every single person in that room looked at me, I looked down to the floor and my mom and sister began to giggle. Suddenly, through my embarrassment and utter horror, there was laughter again and I could imagine my dad gloating that it was not at his expense.


Won't you be my neighbor...

This was a post I submitted to my local neighborhood association's e-mail group on October 11, 2010:
"I know I am severely new to this and have mentioned the following ideas before but I am now looking for some guidance because I want to take a more active role in Eastwood, preserving it as well as "cleaning it up" so to speak. My husband and I are a young couple, no kids (unless you count our very furry German Shepherds). We moved to Eastwood in February, 2009 and love living here. We are, of course, as concerned as the rest of you about the direction Eastwood could be heading in long term. My dad grew up right here in Eastwood and loved his childhood. Gone with the Wind was the first movie in color that my dad saw at the Palace Theater and so many years later it is still standing and working to be better than ever! We would love to get to know more of our neighbors but with work, life etc. it can be difficult as you all know. 

Now, I know that my ideas may sound naive but they are shared with the best intentions and we are looking for some honest opinions and feedback as to how to get them off the ground. What we would love to see along James street is a revival. POMCO began to renovate space and although their space may not be useful to many of us, boy did it increase the aesthetic value of a few blocks. Walgreens moved in and although it may not have been a first choice for many, it has really prettied up the corner and they have been doing well! I also know that Cafe Kubal has brought in some good business down towards Thompson and of course Dunkin Donuts and Papa Johns are not the MOST beautiful businesses on the corner of Midler but they have made an effort to step up their appearance and they serve a general purpose. 

Now, I am not a BOBO (bohemian bourgeois) by nature but what I believe we need is a micture of old and new to really make this neighborhood more sustainable. I have previously mentioned a dog park as a way to bring people together but I really don't know where to start, so if you have ideas please send them my way. We drive out to Liverpool to socialize our puppy and as much as I love to visit where I grew up, I would rather get to know the great people of Eastwood. To preserve the old feeling too, I fully believe we need a bakery or Patisserie (we lived by one in Brooklyn that had great baked goods and gelatto in the summers) along James in any one of the multiply abandoned spaces. This would bring in some more neighborhood foot traffic (and nothing against the Bakeries in the area, but James Street needs some good foot traffic). 

Now, I don't know anyone currently that needs a space but we are all our best advertisements for the area. My biggest idea may seem highly controversial and Yuppie of me, but I honestly believe it would bring in the clientele we NEED more of in Eastwood. Next to Kimberly's there is a space (also next to Subway) and next to Bank of American there is a space...either of which would be perfect for a Starbucks. Now, I know what you are thinking. We already have a Dunkin Donuts and Cafe Kubal (but we have spaces on the other end of James by Walgreens and the book stores that would be perfect for another gathering location--more caffeine never hurt, am I right?) and we NEED more mom and pop family businesses and I agree, but if we infuse those businesses with more "uppercrust" places like Starbucks, we get a very cool fusion of old and new, while bringing in LOTS of business type clients coming and going from work, looking to pick up their favorite Starbucks coffee and fresh baked breads; their favorite Burger from Laci's and an old book from either side of the street. The working class and the average Joe love a good book, a strong coffee and a comfortable place to drink/eat and be merry with colleagues/friends that also includes open mic nights and WiFi (the Starbucks in Liverpool does both and it brings in a great crowd while getting some new talent known in the process---which of course could then hook up with the Palace for some goold old fashioned networking). 

Like, I said, maybe I am young and stupid but the new thing to keep neighborhoods alive seems to be a fusion of old and new (or at least an old feeling with some new bells and whistles) and I really believe Eastwood could really thrive again if we all spread the word and maybe purposefully "bump" into some friends or strangers that have some developing money to put into our neighborhood. Just some thoughts, take them or leave them OR let me know what my next steps would be to be heard as an advocate for our village within the city. Thanks for reading!"

I fully believe this is possible! It would be wonderful to see a great part of the city of Syracuse revived a bit more so young couples/families would appreciate what the city of Syracuse has to offer and so we wouldn't feel so pressured to move back to the 'burbs. This city has a lot to offer if we could renovate some spaces, take out some "trash" and infuse some old and new mindsets. Keeping an open mind . . .and a hopeful heart for this part of the city I call home.

Say Cheese . . .Or Not

Originally posted on January 16, 2010

So Wikipedia says that saying "cheese" when having your picture taken, besides being used by photographers as a cheap trick to make one open their mouth in a smile formation,  can actually "incite glee in some people." I don't think it's funny . . .at all. More than a few people I know have the same dilemma with this age old preface to shutter clicks. Instead of inciting glee, this saying denotes a feeling of panic and a stomach curdling fight or flight response, with the most likely one being flight. I have heard people say that having their picture taken is like: having an operation without anesthesia, an invasive Tom peeping into their soul, silent torture and constant judgment. For people who fear the lens, hearing "Say Cheese" is equivalent to a final warning. The dread sets in, the cold sweat begins and warning bells are ringing in their ears. Due to strong western influence, this saying has been coined in at least 13 different languages with slightly varied meanings. In Germany, for instance, silly words like spaghetti or "cheesecake" (Kasekuchen) are used to make small children experience the glee. In Spain they use "potato" (patata), in Thailand you may hear "Pepsi," in Denmark  just say "sig appelsin" ("say orange") and in Sweden "sag omelett" ("say omelet").  To those who do not care to have their pictures taken, "Say Cheese" mean one thing . . .run!

Any way you look at it, some people love having their pictures taken and some don't. It is not up to the person behind the camera (who is NOT currently having their picture taken) to decide the feelings of those being colorfully stilled. It is their job to respect the wishes of their subjects. If you are out with a group of friends and one of them say no . . .respect it. They may not like themselves very much, they may have been teased as a child or some other deep seeded issue, or maybe they honestly feel freaked out that a part of them can be posted to god knows how many different web sites without their permission. Some people believe that the eyes are a window into the soul and that sharing a picture of themselves is really a very personal experience. I get it. It's similar to how I feel about singing on command. I have met so many new and wonderful people in my life, yet how much I value them as true friends more often depends on how much they push me to do things before I am ready than on how they treat me overall. When someone I have just met says "Oh you sing?! Great! Sing for me," its like someone just told me to take off all my clothes because I am about to be raped. I know that sounds harsh but it's really how it feels. Pictures are like that for some people and although the dream people have where they are standing naked in front of a group of people is very cliche and played out, it still holds true. There are still things called social conventions and people need to respect them. Long ago, people never smiled in pictures. They stood stoic and somber. Granted, maybe they had to pee . . .lord knows cameras back then were big and bulky and everything worth doing required waiting and patience. Taking their cue from Greek statues was for posterity's sake . . .an austere attitude the goal.  According to a fictitious story, the reason people smile for pictures today is that a wealthy undergarment man from New York, Mr. Henry D. Brassier, farted during his very serious family portrait sitting and "Cut the Cheese" was simply shortened to "Say Cheese." Boy I wish history was more fiction than not . . .it would certainly be more humorous. 

Pants . . .why they're important to so many people

Originally posted on January 15, 2010

Breeches, trousers, capris, gauchos, jeans and trews. These are some of the many names I ran across when sifting through the history of pants. Women fought to bring pants into acceptance on many occassions, starting with Persian women in the 4th century and followed by the western world in the 1880's when women decided that riding a bicycle in a dress could prove seriously fatal. Even then, fashion didn't consider pants appropriate for women until World War I when necessity had women going into the factories to work in the places of the missing men.  Today, we worry about style, fit, cut, feel, color, length, material and durability. All of these problems aside, we have bigger problems these days than those aforementioned. 

Now as I risk sounding like a fuddy duddy, I will say that the biggest problem we face is really all about the positioning of the pants. For years I have heard teachers old and new complaining that kids need to pull up their pants and wear them as the pants were intended to be worn. When the machines made a space for two butt cheeks and the pants were marketed, I am pretty sure they were meant to be worn ABOVE and COVERING the underwear, ergo the title of "UNDERwear." Short of screaming it from the rooftops, I don't know what we can do to convince people that pants really do keep your butt warm, look nice when worn correctly and if worn incorrectly will allow me to judge you more than a little bit before making your acquaintance. My worries and the worries of many, however, no longer need to be so . . .we have a pioneer who is willing to sing the song of the appropriate pants in front of the world for all to hear. 

General Larry Platt, wonderful, spry and oh so willing to take it to the next level. He is the voice of the people . . .the people who hate seeing the boxer shorts of boys and men hanging out in broad daylight . . .the people who wonder how walking is possible when your knees have a wedgie . . .the people who secretly hope that someone will chase the person wearing the pants around their ankles to see how fast they really will be able to run and how far before falling on their idiotic faces . . .you know you've wondered. So thank you General Platt for your musings, your voice and your dancing skills. You are the hero of the traveling pants . . .let them come home to stay . . .stay put above the hips, that is.