Thursday, August 28, 2008


there are fireworks exploding somewhere in the distance, and i like to think that they are being set off in celebration of barack's incredible speech tonight, and in honor of an altogether wonderfully done convention. biden, hillary, michelle, and barack; all together to issue a charge to our country and accept a charge themselves on the anniversary of two of the most powerful and significant american moments in history.

plus, who doesn't love fireworks? only hatemongers don't love fireworks.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the ring

a.) i am not engaged.

2.) i found the prettiest ring EVER. and when i say ever, i mean EVEEEER. why was i looking? why was i with a friend in an engagement ring type of store when i am not engaged? please stop being so nosy.

c.) no, i will not tell you where the ring is because you might buy it and then what would i do?

5.) this might be the incentive i've been looking for to stop biting my nails. and my cuticles.

r.) it is gooooooooooooooorgeous, and it would look perfect on my finger. it already did, i mean, when i tried it on and the man at the store wrote down all the pertinent information (his idea, not mine!). and it is interesting. it has a 'split shank,' which i have been calling a 'double-band thingy' ever since i saw my friend lisa's like three years ago and loved it.

99.) does that rule still exist, about how a ring should cost the equivalent of two months' salary?

z.) why, when i value feminism and gender equality, do i still think i should be the one getting proposed to? ohhhh, but it is so PRETTY!!!

. . . i feel a little like golum from 'lord of the rings,' "my precious," etc. etc. but come on. you would too.

Monday, August 25, 2008


okay, here's the only thing i can attribute the miraculous banana bread to: White Whole Wheat Flour, and a little bit of extra shortening. Those were the two variables - i didn't use regular flour, and i did not smooth over the top of the shortening measuring cup, thus allowing for a bit more than the called-for half cup.

katz: i've never used chocolate chips before, but that's really only because i can't keep them in the house any longer than it takes for me to give into the temptation to make (and eat) a batch of cookie dough. i'm sure they taste delicious in the bread.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Hot damn. The banana bread came out perfectly.

I'm not exactly sure what to make of it, except that maybe every time I think I have something figured out, I don't. Maybe there are surprise and exception in the funniest places, and that expectations are for things other than banana bread.

Friday, August 22, 2008

banana bread as redemption

i'm making banana bread today.

it's in the oven right now, with 50 minutes left. every time i make banana bread, i'm reminded of the same thing. namely, expectations.

i've probably made a dozen loaves of banana bread in my lifetime. it's a family recipe, at least in the sense that i get the instructions off of a handwritten notecard that my grandma included in the recipe book she gave my mom of my dad's favorite recipes, just before they got married. which will be funny to any of you who know my mom.

so i mash the bananas, crack the eggs, try to measure shortening properly in spite of its ambiguous consistency, and mix it all together. nonfat no-stick spray on the pan, 300 degrees, one hour, DO NOT open the oven door.

the top of the bread never turns out right. and every time, every single time, i make this damn bread the damn middle falls like a damn sad deflated balloon. i've tried altering certain ingredients; adding or subtracting minuscule amounts of baking powder or soda or flour, like a mad scientist mixing fuming liquids in glass beakers, hoping that this time i'll get it right.
and you know what? i never do.

now, maybe i'm just missing something. maybe it really does all come down to those eighths of a teaspoon, or everywhere i've been baking happens to be at the wrong elevation, or the oven hates me. but in the end, those things don't really matter. because it keeps happening, and i like banana bread a lot so i'm going to keep making it, plus it's a pretty easy recipe and the amount of happiness i get from eating it - well, it's a great ROI as those in the business world might say.

and it all comes down to expectations. with each anticipatory glance through the oven door, each ginger placement of the pan on the lower rack of the oven, i am setting myself up for disappointment. the damn bread always falls in the middle, and as long as i expect the bread to look like a perfect little loaf, i am going to be disappointed. and do you want to know the really weird thing? the part of the banana bread that is the tastiest to me is the fallen middle! i love the mushy part, the part that gets stuck on my fingers when i eat it, the dark and damp hidden interior of an otherwise nice-looking loaf of bread.

so now, with 37 minutes left on the timer, i am trying a little experiment. it's this thing where i don't look in the oven to see how the bread is rising, don't try to shape it specially before it goes into the oven, don't guess how much extra baking soda i should add to make it curve on top. and don't think it isn't killing me. don't think for a second that i don't want to run over there and look up banana-bread-top-tricks on the internet and call my grandma and pray over it. i do. but i'm trying to re-wire a little bit, and i know that you don't do the same things if you are going for different results.

will i still be disappointed if my banana bread doesn't look magazine-worthy? probably. but in a weird way, i will be glad to see that little sunken middle that will most likely greet me. it reminds me that even the most misshapen and odd-looking things can be wonderful in a weird way, and reminds me that only i control my expectations, and how i react to these situations is really the meat of the character of my life. God is in the details, and he is in the banana bread. and that is so good.

on an entirely different subject, today i watched a NEW episode of sex and the city. i have never, ever seen this one before. i thought that these were urban TV legends! i'm sure that God was somewhere in there too.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

adventures in lunchables

i might be the only one, but every once in a while i'll have a day where i just. eat. EVERYTHING. it's like the chemicals that are supposed to tell my brain that i'm full just forgot, or got lazy and were running half an hour late. i eat like an insatiable pregnant lady. i got the hunger attack yesterday afternoon, and started with string cheese, cottage cheese, crackers with brie, a slice of pizza, cool ranch doritos, and a lunchable. yes, a lunchable. and not just any lunchable, mind you - a bologna one. kept in the bottom section of the fridge for my picky-eater brother, i reflected nostalgically on third-grade school lunches and couldn't resist. mystery meat and cheese product has never tasted so good.

chocolate-covered almonds and two riesens had to suffice as dessert, until i realized that the package of flour i kept seeing in the back of the pantry was actually a 12-ounce bag of nestle chocolate chips. i thought baking cookies would be a good idea - mostly because while i was baking, i couldn't so much be eating - until i realized i was going to be away this weekend, and couldn't stand the thought of anyone else eating MY cookies, so i gave up and ate the dough. off the beaters. not just the dough that was on there from mixing, noooooo . . . . i used them like giant spoons to pick up dough and dough and more dough and kept going even when i knew the tummy-ache that would follow is proportional in pain to the amount of batter i consume. i couldn't stop.

thankfully, i've returned to my normal grazing habits today, and still weigh less than 3000 pounds. i swear off lunchables every time i do this, yet somehow fall prey to their fatal allure time and time again - like the food-induced smoke that wafts out of the room and curls into a 'come-here' gesture in cartoons, i cannot resist a stack of pinkish meat on cold crackers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

when the heart waits

"I should have remembered, though, that the life of the spirit us never static. We're born on one level, only to find some new struggle toward wholeness gestating within. That's the sacred intent of life, of God - to move us continuously toward growth, toward recovering all that is lost and orphaned within us and restoring the divine image imprinted on our soul. And rarely do significant shifts come without a sense of our being lost in dark woods . . . "
- Sue Monk Kidd

sometimes, in a way that feels entirely out of the blue, i grow sad and withdrawn and like to think that my problems are really the most difficult that anyone in the history of the human race has suffered. i find it so easy to live with blinders on in my own, very small world, landlocked by my thoughts.

sometimes the journey seems so long, and the obstacles so great and unknown, and the distance impossible. i'd rather sit down where i am than keep walking. and i know there is a light, but it's hard to see. hard to remember that it's there. movement, which is such a simple concept, takes more energy than it seems at first glance. it requires the concentrated effort of coordination; syncing all your parts to travel together - your legs to move, your arms to sway, your lungs to take in air, your mind to carry on through night and day, your mind to be one thing and of one focus.

sometimes, though, at times like this i'm very glad for people who have done this before me, like the author above, and dallas willard, and my friends and my parents.

sometimes, movement is just putting one foot in front of the other.

Monday, August 4, 2008

chicago, home . . .

the concept of home has never been a concrete one for me. born in a town in southern california, we soon moved on to another southern california town and then - you guessed it - yet another (pasadena, simi valley, chino hills - for anyone who's keeping track). at 9, my parents broke the news to me that, just for the heck of it, they wanted to rip me away from all of my third-grade best friends, an elementary school where i was both math-olympics champion and most popular underclasswoman, and the natural beauty of southern california to see how i would fare in the desolate wilds of the northwestern chicago suburbs.

or at least that's how it felt.

so for the next 9 years, we made our home on eisenhower circle and i made some of the best friends i'll ever have. we christmased (new verb!) in california and spent two weeks there every summer, so it always retained a sense of homeyness to me. but as the rest of elementary school and junior high passed and bled into high school, new roots had begun to grow under me that tied me, if not to the place, at least to the people around me who made this place home.

senior year came, and along with it the question that no sane adult should ever ask unsolicited - so little suzy, where are you going to go to college? (read: i don't have anything else to say to you, since i only marginally know your parents, but you look about seventeen and i'm fairly uncreative, so here goes. OR, you know, my father and his father both went to harvard, and i may have foolishly resisted them for about a month at your age to try and make my own decision, but now i see the wisdom of their ways - parental and societal pressure are the way to go!)
i chose westmont college, in santa barbara, california, not knowing at this time whether my family would be living in illinois (home) still or in menlo park, in NORTHERN california of all places. that story is a saga unto itself and deserving of another post at another time, but suffice it to say that in the end we were all california-bound.

looking back, i couldn't be more happy. hindsight, and all that. but i never could have known. i threw a tantrum at 18 about our family's decision to move that, i'm ashamed to say, was not too far off from the one i had pitched at 9 when finding out the same news. but menlo park, nothern california, has been more than a good place for all five of us to be. and now that the three of us children are in various stages of adulthood, we are closer (proximity-wise. proximally?) than we would have been if mom and dad decided to stay in chicago. i'm glad and grateful for the move.

but for a few days every year, i come home. the home where fireflies light up the dusky sky, where thunderstorms roll in on gray afternoons and the puffiest cotton-ball clouds you've ever seen open up drain all of the contents in five furious minutes, where soda is 'pop' and freeways are tollways and you have to declare allegiance to a baseball team and you can eat the best hot dog you will ever have and the friends who make this place home are more like family than i ever imagined anyone not of my own blood could be.

so, home. that old adage, stitched on to countless pillows for countless years about it being where the heart is - well, i suppose that's true. and even as i hope to learn how to bring my heart and my current physical location (wherever that may be) closer and closer together, i think there will always be a bit or piece of it that remains where these people are.