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Posts from March 2004

Schadenfreude in TV Land

Now, I'm not a big TV watcher these days. Sure, every now and again I'll flip on the tube for a little while, but I'm usually doing just that -- flipping. Maybe I'll stumble upon a good movie, watch something on the Food Network, or even succumb to the guilty pleasures of MTV reality-show trash. But recently, I have stumbled upon a great show -- Significant Others, on Bravo. I almost wrote about it yesterday, but then thought to myself, Laren, why the hell are you plugging a TV show? On the subway this morning, I was reading my New Yorker that arrived yesterday, and they reviewed the show. They seem to love it as much as I do. That's it -- I'm plugging the show.

The show centers around three (now four) couples in various stages of marriage who have entered couples therapy. It is split between their time in the therapist's office and clips of their daily lives -- the things that are actually driving them to therapy. Why do I like this show so much? Aside from the brilliant, improv comedy and amazing talent, I'm pretty sure it's schadenfreude. Maybe it's the reminder that couplehood can be just as painful as singledom. I definitely love the theme song (a speed-rock version of the Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You"). Then again, maybe it's just because it makes me laugh out loud -- for those who have heard me laugh, you realize how loud this can actually be. Who knows? Just go watch it tonight at 9:30. It's hysterical.


Spring Has Sprung

No really. It has. How do I know this? Because yesterday, I took my bike out for her inaugural spin of the season. Granted, I was freezing, so I only rode up on to Chelsea Piers and back -- all said and done about 20 minutes -- but I took 'er out nonetheless. There are other signs -- the sudden urge to clean out the closet (not that it will actually happen, but the urge is there), the rumblings of spring and summer travel plans, the desire to go barefoot (or at least without socks) if at all possible. Never mind that it's not supposed to go above 50 degrees this week. I don't care. For me, it's spring.


Has spring sprung for you yet? If so, see you on the bike path -- I'm the one riding the Cannondale compact (yes, it's the bike for shrimps).


One thing I've learned about myself over the years is that when I start to feel slightly stressed out, exercise, sleep and eating well are always my first remedies. This morning, I woke up super-early, as I've had a a lot on my mind lately. So -- off I went to yoga. I first started practicing yoga about four years ago, and although I've never done it regularly, I really enjoy the calm stretching, the chanting, and the breathing. Looking back to my days at music and arts camp, many of the exercises we did to warm up and cool down were yoga poses, which I didn't realize until much later. But even back then, and particularly now, I have a great deal of trouble shutting out all the outside thoughts. And then I wonder -- is it just me? Is everyone else here achieving inner peace, at least for an hour? I can't imagine that everyone else is simply dismissing all the thoughts that creep into your head during exercise -- what do I need to do later today? why hasn't that guy called me? are my underwear sticking out? I forgot to call my friend back to let her know about tonight -- shit. Oh wait. Inner peace, inner peace, inner peace, inhale, exhale.

Is it just me? What are your yoga thoughts like? Perhaps if I practice more regularly, this will change. Sounds like a good springtime project. Om.


Truly Tasteless (and Taken)

As some of you know, my friend Doug has a blog called Planet Gordon -- he blogs about being engaged, but from the groom's perspective. Doug IM'd me yesterday, asking if I had read his blog. Turns out that he was concerned about a little intellectual property issue. He had designed and started selling t-shirts that say "taken," with the notion that since women have to wear engagement rings, men should similarly display their unavailability. Yesterday, he noticed that, a popular wedding site, had started selling "taken" t-shirts as well, advertising them as "new." Doug logically concluded that he might have been ripped off. Later that day, he IM'd me again with an update. Turns out theKnot had been selling thongs emblazoned with the word "taken" before Doug started his blog. You can watch the drama unfold on his blog. Although he no longer had a legal claim, Doug and I IM'd a while on the logic behind the "taken" thong.

[17:19] Me: thongs. nice. real classy
[17:19] Doug: yup
[17:19] Doug: that vagina is taken!
[17:19] Doug: hands off!
[17:19] Me: now who would be reading this thong, exactly?
[17:20] Doug: right
[17:20] Doug: imagine if someone was cheating
[17:20] Doug: she gets down to her skivvies
[17:20] Doug: and then remembers
[17:20] Doug: oh yeah! i'm taken!
[17:20] Doug: i totally forgot!
[17:20] Doug: thank god i had that underwear on!
[17:20] Me: right
[17:20] Doug: or who knows what would have happened
[17:21] Me: or better yet, she is about to take them off and some guy (or gal) says, "wait -- it says you're taken!"
[17:21] Me: I'll stop.
[17:21] Doug: sorry, lady
[17:21] Doug: that's where i draw the line
[17:21] Doug: the wedding ring didn't stop me, but the panties did
[17:23] Me: right
[17:23] Me: my co workers got a kick out of that one
[17:23] Doug: thanks.
[17:23] Doug: i'm here all week
[17:23] Me: be sure to tip your waitress

and then later --
[17:37] Doug: question
[17:37] Me: one sec, wait, let me check my crotch, no -- not taken

Hours and hours of entertainment. And on a semi-related note, I'm accompanying Doug and some others tonight to the Penthouse Executive Club. They're wooing the most famous groom in cyberland, and I'm going along for the ride. Not for the boobs, but for the food -- Adam Perry Lang, of Daisy May's BBQ (and chili cart) fame, is the chef at Robert's Steakhouse, the in-club restaurant, so I'm going to pay him a visit. A friend of mine (who is a little jealous that he can't make it) declared it "boobies and steak" night. I'll be bringing my own boobies, and focusing on the steak, thank you very much.


All kinds of crazy pictures are up. First, there's Kick Ass Karaoke -- a karaoke night with all my fellow Prepare/IMPACT self-defense instructors. Second, there's the updated knitting circle album, with pictures from both knitting circles. Third, there's Random Fun -- all those pictures I haven't quite managed to send out, including First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum, and my friend Jay's 30th birthday party. Finally -- Kids! This album has pictures of the kids from my visit to DC, the zoo, and the Upper East Side (another exotic locale, in my book). Enjoy!

You Scratch My Blog, I'll Scratch Yours

The blog world, or blogosphere, as some call it, is a pretty nifty place to hang out. As I have written, I have met some cool people through my blog, many of whom are also bloggers (I still get that super-geeky feeling when I call myself a blogger! Oh well). One of the main ways that bloggers get to know each other is through links to one another's sites. Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void has instituted his own sort of "policy" for this -- he will link to anyone who links to him. Now, I have posted several of his cartoons on my site, and Hugh has given me at least a few shout-outs since we've gotten to know each other. Here's the most recent one -- his take on "I Am Woman, Hear Me Blog," which I wrote about as well. He has also recently put me on the first page of his blogroll (prime real estate, as he points out). So -- here's my shameless plug for him. Go buy blogcards. I bought some and they're fantastic -- a great conversation-starter, among other things. I promise to post pictures of them as soon as I can figure out how to take a decent picture of them with no glare from the flash.

The City of Brotherly Love Cured Meats

I had a wonderful time in Philadelphia this weekend. And yes, I got my provolone with. But -- that was hardly the highlight of the weekend, culinary or otherwise. Although I don't think I'd ever want to live in Philly, it was certainly a good place to visit. My favorite way to learn about a city is to wander around, and of course, visit the local markets. On these two fronts, Philly certainly delivered. I got a chance to wander around a bit before brunch on Saturday, and discovered one of many murals -- Philadelphia has a huge mural collection, and many of them are made from beautiful and colorful mosaic tiles.


We had brunch at Sabrina's, a cozy cafe near the Italian Market. While waiting, we got to check out a little of the market's produce, and poked our heads into Superior Pasta, but saved our major shopping for later that day. After brunch and visiting with some friends, we returned to the Italian market for the hard core shopping. We intended to cook dinner for a group of people, and decided on a menu of antipasti, followed by our version of arrabiata -- chicken cooked in a spicy tomato sauce, with black olives, served over fettucine. Given the olives, we called it "arrabiata puttanesca" -- spicy whore chicken. Our first stop was DiBruno Brothers for antipasti. I was taking the lead on this course, so I went to town. I got my favorite Alfonso olives (to be soaked in olive oil and garlic later), bocconcini, bresaola, prosciutto, hot soppressata, hot peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone, marinated artichokes, and marinated mushrooms. And that was just for starters. The staff at DiBruno Brothers were great. Tourist that I was, I started piling my containers on a small plastic ledge above the olive barrels. "Are those yours, sweetie? Put those up on the scale. Can you reach it? Ask one of those tall guys to help you." (to my shopping companion) "What're you doing -- just standing around looking pretty? Make yourself useful!" After I had finished with my order, we were offered some extra-creamy french butter to add to our purchases -- "because, clearly you two aren't afraid of fat." (My shopping companion:) "Did you just call me fat?!" We went on to buy the pasta, whole italian tomatoes, pitted black olives, and chicken breasts, for the entree. Lugging our purchases home, we began preparations for the feast. Our dinner guests arrived shortly thereafter with a huge bottle of Chianti, some good, crusty bread, a box of Krispy Kreme donut holes for dessert, and School of Rock. We stuffed ourselves silly, and had a fantastic, fun and laughter-filled evening. My hosts will be eating leftover cured meat and arrabiata puttanesca for the remainder of the week.

Some of the leftovers.

The next day, we walked off some of the damage, hitting many of the key Philly attractions, strolling through Chinatown, and stopping at the Rodin Museum. You can see the pictures here. Thanks to Seth, Brian, Ronnie, Tammy, Rayna, Max, and Evan for inviting me to your homes, feeding me, and making me feel more than welcome in the city of brotherly love and cured meats.

I'd Like Provolone With.

A few years ago, my friend Geek lived in Philly. I visited him one weekend, and, knowing me well, he made sure that we went out for authentic Philly cheesesteaks. He also took the time to prep me on the proper way to order. First of all, a Philly cheesesteak comes with Cheez-Whiz unless you ask for something else. The only other options are American and Provolone. John Kerry embarrassed himself by asking for Swiss Cheese on his cheesesteak during a campaign stop in Philadelphia. The only other choice that you need to make is "with" or "without." Translated, this means with or without fried onions. Now, I can't remember if we went to Pat's or Geno's on our trip, but I do remember having a great cheesesteak.


I'm returning to the city of brotherly love this weekend, so please let me know if there's anything I absolutely must eat, do, or see while I'm down there. You can spot me there -- I'll be the one eating the provolone with, steak juice dripping down my arms. Not quite lobster, but it'll do. Mmmm . . .

The Need for Speed

I found out recently that a friend of mine will be competing in the Aicha des Gazelles, a non-professional, women's road rally race through the Moroccan desert. They must cover over 1500 km in 8 days, off road, without GPS or roadbooks. She is teaming up with her sister to form Team USA, and they are raising money for Seeds of Peace -- the winning team receives $37,000 for the charity of their choice. I was so impressed to hear about this adventure, and was actually able to hook them up with some helpful resources. They have no experience in rally racing, so I called upon my cousin, who is a photographer specializing in cars and rally races. He's also a rally buff himself. The last time he was in town, we had drinks at 'ino with two of his rally racing friends, including Andrew Comrie-Picard, who just left his law firm job to race full-time. I facilitated an introduction via email, and Michele was able to meet Andrew to get some concrete rally racing advice and tips. You can read all about the race and the adventure leading up to it at Be sure to make a donation, or join them at their bon voyage party on March 25th!

Robyn & Michele, the SpeedSisters

Laren, Unplugged

I had a great weekend. I had an out-of-town visitor, and we had a fun-filled, yet relaxing, New York weekend. We went to a karaoke party, cooked brunch, wandered through the Lower East Side (searching for Guss' Pickles, which was closed, but went to Economy Candy instead), saw the Eldridge Street Synagogue (the first synagogue built in NYC), walked around Chinatown (got to eat at Fried Dumpling and New Green Bo), saw the John Waters exhibit at the New Museum, went to a margarita party, and had drinks at Great Jones Cafe. Over the course of the weekend, I took a bunch of pictures. So, last night, I had a quiet night planned at home. I was hoping to post some of the pictures from the weekend, post some other pictures that I have neglected for a while, and take care of a few ministerial things -- pay some bills, buy plane tickets for Passover, etc. I arrived at home, sat down at my computer, and DISASTER -- my cable modem seemed to be on the fritz. After spending some time on the phone with the RCN technician chatting about Wilkes-Barre, PA (did you know that it's home to Sallie Mae? I did, thanks to having a friend who grew up there (hi, geek!)) while I unplugged, replugged, and generally adjusted my dead cable modem, we had no choice but to schedule a service call for later this week.

It made me realize how, in the span of about five years, I have gone from someone who scoffed at the notion of reading news, paying bills, or buying groceries on the internet, to someone who does all of those things and more online. Granted, while I pay all of my bills and make the majority of my travel arrangements online, sometimes there's no substitute for the old-fashioned version. I still get the Sunday New York Times delivered. I go to the local farmers' market and neighborhood stores in addition to shopping at Fresh Direct. But, despite all that, I was certainly flustered last night. Plus, I have been trying not to write in my blog during work hours, so the death of my home cable modem certainly didn't help any.

So, here I am at work, blogging away, but for those of you eagerly awaiting the karaoke (and other) pictures. You'll have to wait until after Thursday. I doubt that any of you are reading this, but if you are, I'm sure you're devastated.