Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Karate Cat

A forward my mom sent me. What can I say; I found it amusing (the photo is equally amusing).

The Dog's Diary

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 PM - Milk bones! My favorite thing!

1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 PM - Dinner! My favorite thing!

7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

The Cat's Diary
Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

In an Attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an Elevated Cell, so he is safe. ..For now.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Houdini Hookworms

Nothing says love like a hookworm.

This is a 100%, genuine Crohn's-related post - I swear!

Okay, so you know how Matt gets these crazy ideas in his head? Well, if you don't, just go with it. The other week my darling husband was listening to
Radiolab (which he loves quite possibly more than yours truly) and heard an interesting story of how parasites can we used to cure folks with autoimmune diseases. Actually, let me be more graphic: parasites in the form of gnarly, grotesque HOOKWORMS. He then lectured me (the boy thinks he's a parasitic expert or something) on how this fringe of (deranged - I added that) people who had all sorts of autoimmune conditions infected themselves with hookworms and then, magically, went into remission (if you want to be all scientific about it, it's called "Helminthic Therapy").

He said the podcast spoke specifically to colitis and Crohn's.
He then emphasized (a bit too much) how we could "just order them on the Internet". Them being the HOOKWORMS. I'm, sorry, I can not go easy on the caps when I'm speaking of such creatures. He actually said the following: "You know, I bet I could infect you with HOOKWORMS and you wouldn't even know it." He then stomped around and got irritated when I curtly said I would never, ever, EVER, infect myself with a wormy parasite. He then said I was being irrational and I could be cured. So, thank you, Radiolab. Really. Because this song and dance has be going on for three weeks now, and I swear the boy is spending late nights Googling parasite farms.

And if I open a jar of hookworms on Christmas, so help me God...


UPDATE: Just saw how my Crohn's blogging compatriot, Bright Side, touched on this subject a few hours ago! I guess it's just a wormy sort of day.

Ain't Fall grand?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sick brings out the new

UPDATE: I went back to yellow, but this time with a blue. What can I say; old habits die hard.

When I get sick it's a full-blown event at the house. I whine, I bitch, I lay on the bed saying I'm near death, and both Penny and Matt head for the hills. Or, in this case, anywhere but my sick-den: the bedroom. When my distress is Crohn's-related, I'm much less histrionic because that is actually semi-serious. But when it's a cold? Watch out.

I very rarely lose my appetite when I'm sick (I swear, I could be on death-bed and ask for some Doritos and a Caesar salad...speaking of.....), but I do get persnickety. Several years ago I was very sick but - out of the blue - demanded a sandwich from Quizznos. Poor Matt obliged and came home with a sub, which I immediately labeled as "gross" and rolled over in bed.

This has not much to do with anything, but I was saddled with an annoying cold this week so I decided to re-do the page a bit. Who wasn't sick of that yellow and purple?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today I went to a spinning class.

Really; there's no reason to snicker after reading that title.

I never thought I'd go to a spinning class. In fact, I was oddly terrified of it for years. I've gone to a local gym on and off (off when I wasn't feeling well) for the last couple of years, with little effect. I'd eat - in creamy chocolate - what I lost. You say vicious cycle? I say delicious cycle.

Tonight I forgot my headphones. Without headphones, I cannot watch tv while on the wretched Trendclimber or listen to MGMT while sailing along on the elliptical. It felt like the time I forgot just one sneaker: there is just no way this is going to work.

But then I saw the sinewy (and pleasantly not-so-sinewy) walking with sweat towels in tow to the spinning room. I have never entered that room. Daily, at 6 pm, the room would ominously darken, and I would hear electronia thumping on the bass. Then, at 7 pm, they emerged, looking mainly like their former selves, except for drenched t-shirts and limp ponytails. They looked...utterly....defeated. I vowed I would never subject myself to that insanity and continued to lollygag around the treadmills.

Except for today, when I realized I had no access to the comforting distractions of television and music, and though, "What the hell?". I entered the room and approached the instructor. She was gorgeous: middle-aged with big eyes and bigger eyelashes. "Can," I started, "people who aren't in shape do...this?" That's all it took. I found a bike - in the back, as I requested - and we adjusted the seat. "How tall are you?" the instructor asked. I said I was probably 6' with my sneakers on. The woman on the bike next to me snorted. I smiled tersely, and chose to decide she was jealous of my long legs. I also silently called her a beyotch, which always helps.

I can explain a spinning class in six worlds: It's a fun sort of hell. You each have a stationary bike with a resistance knob. The instructor wears a microphone and shouts things like, "Okay, we want an 8 outta 10 resistance - this is going to be a BIG hill! Position three!" Position three is when we rise out of our seats (which I was frankly thankful for because those seats are made for bony, boy butts) and "climb" a fictional hill. We are each in charge of our own resistance, so my 8 may be another woman's 4. This is all done in the dark with crazy lights dancing around the room, and to, what I call, steroid music. It's loud, it gets you pumped, and it's exactly what you would never admit to listening to in your free time.

I'm going to be honest: I chose a bike in the back with a close proximity to the door...just in case either my bowels or my glutes decided to conk out. But the hour went by in a flash. I felt invigorated. I felt proud of using my body in such a physical way: after spending months of the couch I was sweating my ass off (and everything else). I gave it all I got: after each uphill climb I thought less and less of my job and stress at work, and just thought more of more of, "Wouldjya believe it, I can DO this!" I came home to Matt cooking dinner, and commenced a thirty minute monologue of how "tough" I was and the strength of my legs. He listened politely while sauteing the onions, and mentioned that he feels like that after a two-hour game of badminton. "Badminton?!" I barked. "You are just too cute with your little badminton! I then belly-laughed.

What can I say: I was feeling the rush - and somewhat obnoxiously.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A book a day...keeps dull thoughts at bay?

I studied journalism and English in college (now my improper use of grammar looks particularly sad, uh?) because I have a love for the English language, and all its delicious quirks. I remember visiting our town's public library weekly as an little eager reading beaver, collecting the next Boxcar Children book or ruminating on whether I liked Claudia or Mary Anne more from the Babysitter's Club series (Mary Ann, all the way). After that I graduated to Michael Crichton - all the really smart kids were reading Jurassic Park in 5th grade - then John Grisham, followed by Robin Cook.

In high school I declared these mass-market paperbacks a sin, and boasted I was only going to read real literature. At the time I had visions of attending an Ivy (I didn't even apply to an Ivy), wearing tweed (this is partially an homage to Monday night's "How I Met Your Mother" - watch it and you'll understand) and holding a work by Proust under my arm (I still have not read anything by Proust, nor do I really intend to). In college, I read for class and little else due to time.

And now? Now I read the news, work emails, and inconsequential blogs (this one leading the way) most of the time. My particular niche is reading an article and then devoting an hour to readers' comments; it's voyeurism into snarkiness at its best. I subscribe to half a dozen magazines and read them faithfully, mainly because glossy images are attractive wastes of time. Fact: I canceled my Vanity Fair subscription because it had TOO many articles and I only read one or two an issue (publicly, I stated that it was "too elitist"). And don't get me started on The New Yorker: if I were a subscriber, I would glance at the fanciful cover, peruse the cartoons (in all their sometimes esoteric glory), and then say, "Yes! A piece on the epic migration of monarch butterflies!" and put the magazine down. Forever. (Not to mention The New Yorker is weekly; sheesh!)

When I get home from work, a job that is fraught with reading dull emails and interacting with people all day, I don't like to read. Or to think, really. I turn the TV on, which is how I got into embarrassing sitcoms, like "The King of Queens". I adore "The King of Queens". I do. I don't think I've ever admitted it publicly. This is the routine: get home from work/gym, fix dinner, watch said dinner with the 7:30 airing of "The King of Queens", laugh. In that order. Matt loves the show too, so don't let him fool you.

When I do read, I'm often caught off-guard on how much I really relish it. This summer I finally read Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. I very shamelessly borrowed a passage from the novel (sans reading the work it was from, of course) for our wedding. When I finally read the book, I devoured it in a few days, finishing it in tears at 2:30 am, with Matt and Penny sleeping beside me. In a fit of emotion, I woke Matt up and said, "You HAVE to read this!" He basically ignored me. I felt it was my obligation to tell the world how amazing this novel was...but no one was up. I think I may have emailed my mother-in-law (who gave me the book and read it as well). I then feverishly planned a vacation to the Greek Isles (where the book is centered), and thought about walking the ancient white-washed steps in sandals and swimming in the Ionian Sea. Well, that lasted about two days (at the two day mark, I checked flight prices out on Expedia).

I'm writing this because I'm inspired by a woman profiled in the NY Times a few days ago. She is reading, get this, a novel a day, and has been doing this for the past year. Check out the article here, and her blog here. Wouldn't it be nice?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Vietnamese Style Burgs

My biggest pet peeve is a picky eater. I'm not talking about us folks who have Crohn's and have to limit what we eat, or people who limit their culinary choices for any health reason. I'm talking about petulant child picky. I'll never understand it: food is one of life's most great, and simple, pleasures. I love all food: whole food, processed food, picnic food, comfort cold weather food, and everything in between. I've never met a bad cheesecake (blasphemy, I say!), or a salad that didn't start off a meal perfectly (is there anything better than mixed greens, Gorgonzola, spiced pecans and a balsamic vinaigrette?).

Today I was in the mood for beef. I'm not going to lie: I never met a cow I didn't like, but it's very seldom in the house because it's not easy on the stomach, and it's atrocious for the environment. We are chicken and fish people. But, alas, today mama wanted some beef. I perused my new issue of Food and Wine and there it was: a burger, but it wasn't. Toasted baguettes with spicy mayo, curry-infused patties, and topped with pickled carrots and cilantro? Yes, absolutely, YES. They were juicy (so, so juicy), quick, and just slightly different from American burger faire. Be sure to slather your baguette with the spiced mayo and use the extra for dipping. Serves a very happy foursome.

Vietnamese-Style Banh Mi Burgers


  • 2 carrots, coarsely shredded
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • One 24-inch baguette, quartered crosswise and split
  • cilantro sprigs
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, toss the carrots with the rice vinegar and sugar and let stand for 10 minutes; drain.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the hot sauce, tomato paste and garlic and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Form the meat into four 6-inch-long oval patties, about 1 inch thick. Season with the curry powder and salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Cook the patties over moderate heat, turning once, until medium, about 12 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, spread the butter on the cut sides of the baguette. Set the bread cut side up on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Spread the mayo mixture on the bread generously and top each baguette section with a burger patty, pickled shredded carrots, and cilantro sprigs. Close the sandwiches and serve hot.

Sooo much better than regular mayo. Spiked with hot sauce (I used Sriracha), garlic, and tomato paste.

The carrots soaking in rice vinegar. Look how they glisten!


Friday, October 9, 2009

"Jam-packed" with American slang

Part of my job involves interviewing college students, which I enjoy, namely because it makes me in charge. Never mind I’m only in charge of 19-22 year olds; that is not the point! I have my general coterie of questions, and a few behavioral-based ones as well. Yesterday, when interviewing I asked the following: “Please tell me about a time when you had to go beyond the call of duty to finish a job or task.” Three separate times I received three very puzzled looks. I went on, “Another way to phrase it, is that you had to go above and beyond to get the job done.” Blank stares, again. And don’t even get me started when I asked them to describe a time when they had to “think outside the box”.

You guessed it: I was interviewing international students and using very American idioms and lingo. I never guessed how completely crazy Americanized English was until I Googled American phrases. Looking at some of them literally, you have to chuckle: “bursting into tears”, “he’s a big fish in a little pond”, “I got a clean bill of health”, “I’m feeling down in the dumps” – and that’s just the B’s, C’s, and D’s! While ruminating on this with a co-worker, she mentioned when discussing a matter with our London office she used the phrase “cut throat” and heard a gasp and then silence.

Just some “food for thought”. (Oh, I crack myself – and only myself - up. And lookee here...that’s another one right there.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Kisses to Keith

I never really understood celebrity crushes. Brad Pitt? Eh. George Clooney? God no - he comes off as a narcissistic womanizer. Johnny Depp? I can't like a guy who wears more eye-liner than I do.

What can I say; I go for substance over looks, and that's why I've harbored a crush over Keith Olbermann for the past few years (anyway, I think he's pretty darn fetching). Now, he does lose some points for getting his start in sports and continuing to do that part-time, but the man is an angry liberal. Well, I'm an angry liberal. And he gets my blood boiling - in a good way. Isn't that cause for swooning?

And although I loathe all these pseudo-political commentary shows, it's nice to know Olbermann and Rachel Maddow are out there. Fighting the good fight.

Here's my pretend boyfriend calling out some politicians who get big donations from insurance companies. Oh, Keithy....

PS: Okay, Edward Norton isn't so bad, either.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I know in the past I have written about my love for my dog in no uncertain terms. Penny is the first being I see after a day of work. She follows me around the house and listens cheerfully to my humanoid ramblings, her head tilt in anticipation, her eyes following my movements as I make dinner or do the laundry. The few times she's gotten sick she's come to my side and pressed the weight of her body to my torso, her eyes looking directly into mine, wanting to know, yes, it's going to be alright. She's also done this when I was sick, or crying. I've found myself saying, "It's okay, Penny, I'm fine, it was just a sad movie" more times than I can count. I love teasing her with, "Where's daddy?!" as she runs to the dining room windows in hopes of seeing Matthew pulling up the drive. When she finally does spot him she sweetly howls in excitement.

She has also made a dog (or one dog) lover out of Matthew. The few times Penny ate something that didn't agree with her, she would remain in the yard for fear of vomiting in the house again. He'd be out there with her telling her that she'd be okay, and to take a sip of water as he stroked her backside. They would sit there together, him with his legs crossed, and her on her side, in the long grass.

I fully believe in the therapeutic advantages in being a dog owner, and I believe these animals, no matter in the home or at work, want to serve us. It's very humbling as I sit at Penn Station waiting for my train and the K-9 Amtrak units walk back and forth, with a German Sheppard or a Lab in tow. It's also very reassuring. (Introduce me to a cat who can do that.)

Here is a story my mom sent me about Ella, an incredible Rottweiler and companion. You needn't be a dog lover to appreciate the story, but I challenge you to not be one after you finish.

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