Thursday, December 9, 2010

Consumer Training: A Revolution of Manners

I'm not blogging as often because I'm writing elsewhere nowadays. It's funny to read my "in a rut" blogs with my short stories going nowhere near to where I would want them to and now I'm tell you I'm writing my first book.

I know. What the fuck? (I purposely did not abbreviate. I strongly believe in owning words-not acronyms. Especially fuck. It's so insulting to fuck to not properly use fuck.)

But yes, a book.

I still kinda laugh when I say it out loud or when I write it in a catch-up facebook comment or email. You gotta be patient with me in this whole ownership of something quite epic in my life.

A book.

My book.

My first book.

It's like that episode in "How I Met Your Mother" when Ted talks about the fact that if you say a word enough times it can easily become strange and odd. Ted used "bowl." "Book" is mine.

Now this book. I'm sure you've heard of it. For probably the only time (or perhaps until book two) I sent out a message to my entire friend list. Granted, I'm no 500 owner of "friends" on facebook, but roughly with around 300, I announced my call to action.

Service is hell.

Consumers (I'm convinced) are the Devil's angels.

You know how often it's said "People are dumb; a person is intelligent. People are chaotic; a person can rationalize." Etc., etc.

I see consumers along the same line. Dumb, chaotic, devilish, demon-like crowds of awfulness. You give people money and time and entitlement-and you get consumers.

You let people milk "The customer's always right" and you, too, will eventually cry on the clock. Perhaps yell, but most times because you're still so trained to keep it all in, the emotional system ignites the tear ducts instead.

Something has to be released-a major side effect of the human condition.

HUMAN = EMOTIONS

Consumers do not get this equation. Hence, the whole "hell on earth" bit.

I imagine that to them, the customer service industry is made up of clever, little vending machines that wear aprons, visors, and black/white polos with khaki.

Memo to all employers: khaki makes NObody happy. Step ten in my revolution is to burn all employee-owned khakis.

But-

first thing's first.

With a month so far starting this book and starting this academic journey I want to articulate this: treat others the way you want to be treated. It's simple. It's so simple that I'm sure-no-I know I will get many people upset, and why?

Because I'm calling everyone out on the simplest known humane fact. We learned this in kindergarten peeps. 5 years old! or 6!

Come on.

That's what will motivate any backlash to my book, the idea of someone telling you that you forgot something so damn easy.

I really don't know where we lost ourselves. Is it that as we get older it's harder to say thank you? Or please?

When we age do we forget common courtesy? Is it connected to money? Selfishness? or Power?

I'm asking all these questions to myself every day, and to my interviewees as we meet and really sit down to talk about this mess we call "customer service."

As usual, someone has to clean this up. And naturally, it's going to be the employees.

Get ready consumers-

you're getting trained.


(I think I just found my title...)



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Real Magic

It's time to talk Harry.

I remember the moment I picked up Harry Potter. The cool blue book with the wispy-sort-of drawing across the front. It was the third installment: "Prisoner of Azkaban."

Yes I did start in the middle. And I know that's horrible, but I went back and read the first two shortly after. Don't get crazy.

But I remember the moment so well. I could walk back into Charter Oak High's library and I could point to you where the spot was, where with my head tilted to the side reading the title and saying,

"Ok, let's see what all the fuss is about..."

I would never be the same Andrea.

At that very instance, I evolved into different reader, a reader who was now hopelessly devoted to one universe. I was completely, totally, undoubtedly in love with...

J.K Rowling.

My fascination always lied in the author. Other girls were busy getting all hot and bothered about Harry, the weird girls got flustered with Ron, and all men around the world both old and young drooled over Hermione (don't let them tell you any different). But I, I was fascinated and in awe of the words I read. And the tremendously amount of talent I found in each chapter. Each new novel.

As a reader, I knew she was amazing. And as a writer, I cried.

I cried because it was something truly special to see what Rowling made: more readers.

I loved going to the midnight screenings of the movies: the air buzzing with Potter. Yet, nothing was special like the book parties. Going to Barnes & Noble at midnight and seeing people of all ages buzz around a bookstore. That was magic to me.

My life plan is quite simple: healthy, happy, family, good work, and rule the world and proclaim total literacy across the globe.

Simple.

Rowling has kinda beat me to the punch but I forgive her. In the end, I won't be selfish about how literacy becomes the next world power, but simply that it does.

This explains my large collection of literacy t-shirts I keep expanding and why going to the Festival of Books is my mecca.

Reading the seventh, and the last, Harry Potter was incredible journey and one of the most rewarding experiences as a reader. The real kick about J.K. is what she gives. She's quite the selfless writer and that's what captivates.

Harry, Hermione, Ron, and all the rest of the heros in her novels are selfless in their united pursuit to save what they love: each other.

Compassion AND Literacy?

J.K. Rowling is my queen.



*******


P.S. Part 1 of the Deathly Hollows film was magnificent. Part 2 will leave me as a big, fat, blobbering mess. I'll write my review of the entire cinematic journey then (July).

I know: the anticipation will be unbearable.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

At Full Price

By popular demand (Deborah) I'm writing a new post. This is how "Ice Cream For Breakfast" universe works. You ask, I'm so grateful you read and want more-I immediately deliver.

Feel free to pester! (I might cry if you email me a request).

Anywho.

This is it:

Friends. Yeah, on this day of my birth, 24 years exactly. I'm thinking about friendship, my friends, and all future friends I kinda know or don't even know yet.

Naturally, nowadays, Facebook is a way to validate you are loved. If no one comments on your status or new uploaded photo or accepts your pending friend request you might as well accept, also, the fact that you're a loser. Viral high school. Fascinating!-No?

But if everything else fails, there's your birthday. And on your birthday, with your birthday reminder, the love is sure to come out. (You hope.)

Now on a serious, not making fun of Facebook note, I feel loved.

It's wild.

I've always told Alex that I do pretty much anything for a friend. No joke. You ask me at three in the morning to come to you and hug you while you cry about where you'll go in life or because you stubbed your toe, I'll be in my car-driving-while you're still sobbing through your "good-bye" and "see you soon."

I'm pretty crazy in love with my family. And the same goes for my friends: new, old, and best.

Today, what really got me thinking and writing this blog in my head while driving home from work, is the old friends, and the memories. I'm not gonna lie-I got pretty choked up when people reminisce and I'm a part of it-in a good way.

Yes, I'm sure over my 24 years I've had some real bitch moments. I am a Scorpio-both in all the good ways and the bad ways. I apologize for the sting. I try everyday to keep it tamed. At this age, I'm a master at it. You REALLY gotta push the button for it to come out.

But for the most part, I'm so amazed to report that the few memories shared today were happy. Simple. Me-just being me.

Wild.

Like any normal woman, I worry about several things I really shouldn't worry about: my face, my arm fat, my hips, my feet (man I need a pedicure), my belly fat (and the hidden abs I lost long ago), my hair, and my boobs. Yes, I worry about their daily statuses but I really don't think anyone else cares: enter friends. Friends care about the rude asshole customers I had to deal with on Monday and they care about how Alex is treating me and if not good, then he's getting a ball-kicking.

Friends care about the fact that you're still around. Living-breathing, and still existing as you. They appreciate all the idiosyncrasies that make you "Betty" or "Tom" or

"Andrea."

If there's anything I've contributed to this known world in my tiny dot of my life, it is my friendships. Even the ones that have been grown out or moved away from or simply grown distant from-the memories are there. And that smile when you think of them really can't fade.

Nostalgia: one helluva feeling. It's beautiful. Keeps you human.

I would really like a real bed with a bouncy, comfy mattress, or those new boots I saw at DSW, or even a trip to Italy. But in time, I might acquire such fabulous birthday gifts.

But for this 24th birthday, I'm happy to receive friends.

No discounts there.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

VG3: Paper-Not Plastik

I can list things that annoy me about work. My job. The endless amount of hours I spent at such job. And how I always, always, smell like coffee. It's in my pores now.

But-

this one is more. And I see it, everyday.

Here's only the beginning of a collection that captures how see beyond "plastik" and understand-

paper...


"Open-Door Policy"


"Red"



"Freshly-Picked Water"



"Massive Dynamic"



"Stop & Smell"



"Work-Related"


Friday, October 15, 2010

Chipper

Ok, I'm going to say it: my art has no direction.

My name is Andrea Galvez and I have writer's block.

I wish there were 12 steps and then bam!

Clarity.

Open flow of awesomeness in the form of prose, but alas, I kid myself.

I'm sitting on my block and don't know how or where to begin to break it. It's awful, frustrating-as-hell feeling and I wish on no other writer but that, too, is wishful thinking. Sorry to any writers out there, but we're all doom (in one time or another).

We'll be going and the stories come bursting out of us, our hands, keyboards, and pens can't even keep up. It's a rush and a thrill to writing faster than your brain can process what you're writing. The story, then, is writing itself, and, us, writers, are merely vessels. We then finish, begin editing, and we're back to being writers and killing ourselves over every subject verb or syntax.

I'm no where near the editing stage; I would kill to be at the editing stage because that means I wrote something.

I've been debating taking a minor separation from Andrea, the writer. I think I've exhausted her and I think she's still moping about the MFA bust. Whether I like to openly admit it to myself, I know somewhere in my heart and in my ego: I'm butt-hurt. So in true immature fashion of being "butt-hurt," I'm refusing to allow any writing of worth come out. It's like a kidnapping and the ransom is recognition and well, that's ridiculous. The conscious me, the everyday Andrea, refuses to indulge in such pity. Is it weird that I'm currently dividing my "selves?"

Nah.

So, I want to focus on another art: photography.

And fencing.

The photography I've started on my own. I hope to in the near future sign up for a few classes: one of dark room techniques, the other of film camera work.

The fencing is drawing near as my bills are coming together in one consistent budget that I have managed and can execute in a timely manner. I'm hoping next month, after I save some cash for my future bed, and with the help of birthday money fencing will have one more fencer: me.

The day that happens I'm going to feel really awesome about myself. Andrea the writer, can suck it for bit in her emo state while Andrea, the fencer works to slowly become a badass-with a sword.

Where does the practicality of fencing come in? It doesn't. It's cool and I want to learn.

Learning, as you know, is very important to me right now.

Perhaps that's where my writing is missing me. I want to learn something completely new, and though each story is different and new, sitting in front of my computer doesn't appeal to me.

I think what I will do is actively seek out the outside, make sure I have my notebook, and write not on a keyboard and lighted screen, but rather scribble. Maybe after the formality of MFA applications and my portfolio, I need to let my writing's hair done.

Scribble.

Also, I won't be afraid of going to places alone. Alex works all day (bless his heart) and my friends are far, even the ones I had in high school are still just far enough to not be conveniently, and spontaneous-outing close. So just like my freshman year of college lunches and throughout the rest of my college lunches in four years, I will do it alone. And I'll learn something from it: me.

I know I sound like a bag of crap, but hey, this is my blog crap, when I get a more professional online site of some sorts, you won't read about all my self-discovery, we'll talk about food and travel :)

So I'm going to explore, probably get lost trying to explore, but I'm over the getting lost anxiety. If I have a decent amount of gas and battery power on my phone: I'm solid. I'll figure it out and learn.

New cities are no different than when I moved when I was young. It takes time to adjust and you hang out with yourself a lot. And though I was scared when I was younger, I won't let myself be now. Because for as much as I love being around people, I'm ok with just me and these crazy thoughts of mine.

Who knows, with this new loner plan, I can begin chipping away.

The block too.




Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Like You

So, I realized something horrible: I completely forgot to write Alex's birthday blog.

Out of all the people that I will do this for and have done this, Alex was not the one I should have forgotten. I mean, I'm in love with him and live with him and call him my boyfriend and whatnot, so yeah, belated, but better late than never.

Ok, I'm sure you're all preparing yourself to not want to read on: I don't blame you.

I'm not one for VPDA: Verbal Public Displays of Affection. Since the beginning glimpses of social networking, VPDA has been at large. An annoying booger you just can't rid of. (Did I just compare VPDA to boogers-yes. Yes. I. Did.)

But I want to take this oh-so-special birthday blog not in a corny, you're the "wind beneath my wings," kinda way because Alex knows I love him. If he doesn't than he's sleeping on the couch tonight. With James.

I want this blog to rather be about the latter part of a quote I will always remember Alex saying:

"It's one thing to love someone, of course we can love them. But to like them, and love them. That, that's different..."

This is why I like Alexander Michael Dandino:

I met a hairy, burly man at a boring, ridiculous meeting. Arms crossed, and legs as well, what compelled me to sit next to the most uninviting person in the room was the fact that he was uninviting. In a room full of people acting like summer camp just started again, a wave of giggles and "OHMYGOD!!" and hugs. Who hugs at a meeting?

I didn't want to be there.

And neither did he.

And so I liked him.

Retrieving a pen I knew I wasn't going to use, but chew on the tip I saw his sock: black and hot pink argyle. A sock that belonged to a hairy man finally made me smile like the rest of the goons.

Alex is such hairy man with black and hot pink argyle socks. He doesn't own a single pair of white socks. It's a rule, a personal philosophy: a middle finger to the uncreative norm.

Alex is the sweetest walking middle finger. Don't let his sharp tongue fool you. He's the nicest guy you'll meet. And if he doesn't like you, you'll know. Alex is the worse liar about his emotions. His face, his demeanor, and most especially, his eyes, will give him away to whether he wants to listen to you-or punch you.

I really like that about Alex. I'm jealous of it, every day. I blame my mother for burning kindness into my brain. Even if I don't like you, I'll be polite to you and give you the benefit of the doubt. Alex won't. And for that, he's the most genuine man you'll meet.

I like that Alex reads, for pleasure. I never thought that would be important to me with the people I like. I mean I was close to threatening the end of our friendship to Gina for still not reading any Harry Potter and watching only the movies. Reading is a part of life, like breathing, to me, I like people who read. Even comic books.

Alex is a writer. And I like that. And no, I'm not jealous, competitive, or a bitch about it. I admire, I appreciate, and I'm in awe of his talent. Alex is humble, and really gets on my nerves sometimes because the man can't take a goddamn compliment every now and then. Humbleness is wonderful and modesty a solid character trait, Alex has both, and he's actually talented.

I like that Alex embraces his struggle as a writer. Without understanding that, you're truly lost.

Alex was born of a father who is the biggest smart ass and both sons are a fat chip off the old block. Poor Donna (Alex's mom).

On the day of his birth a nurse cried out "LOOK at that FOOT!" Alex, always, has both feet on the ground.

I like that he's creative and yet not insane. He's funny.

There's enough insane, weird, intensely introverted artists out there. Alex has not added himself to the pile. He'll make jokes and socialize. He has friends, who adore him. (It's sick. Talk about a few gay crushes...)

He's inappropriate and crude, and I love that about him.

I like that Alex chooses to spend his free time with me. That I get to call dibs forever. I like that on his birthday, we ate dinner together, in a new city, away from all our friends, and everything we were once comfortable with, drank, got drunk-fast-because work lunch is at noon and dinner had yet arrived, and proceeded to act like drunken fools throughout the rest of our meal. Yes, we even drunk texted (sorry Gina).

Alex is my partner-in-crime.
He high-fives me.
And then we kiss.






Happy Birthday.







Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Holy Viv

Ok. I've been MIA for a while. Did I finish my story? No. Did I start a book? No. My past few weeks have been more about the people in my life versus the scholarly, creative goals in my life.

I've horribly neglected Food For Thought and well it is what it is. However I've been making up for it in a small way with my favorite app on my new iPhone, "Foodspotting." Object of the app is to "spot" food yourself, take a delicious photo, upload and write up a quick review. The key with this is the photo; it allows you to browse through the database, locating eateries by your current location and lets the photos speak mostly for themselves. Oddly enough, I like taking pictures of food. I really do. And before I even downloading Urbanspoon, Foodspotting won. To any iPhone users, I highly recommend it.

Pushing aside my introductory summary of apologies and whatnot, let's talk about driving.

Yeah, driving.

Throughout high school after the age of 16 and receiving my driver's license as many others did, I did not (like many others) immediately start to take over the driving responsibilities from my parents' when it came to my daily routine. I kinda drove myself to school in the sense that I wasn't by myself and my Dad sat in the passenger seat as I drove less than a mile to school. I would park in the loading zone and that was that. A 2 minute drive over the next few years cumulated to a handful of hours I drove in total by graduation.

San Diego State: I pack my bags, bought new extra-long twin bedding, snag a few of my favorite posters, and got dropped off. No car. Though, I will state here that I was completely okay with the decision and was for the next four years. I tell people that in the end I prioritized the need to have my rent paid then to have a car. I couldn't afford full-time wages and hence could not afford rent, and therefore, I respected what I asked of my parents and the fact that their income doesn't revolve around just me.

So you see, I for the past 5 years, have lead a life that was based off of the "no car" card. Work had to be close or safely close via public transportation (aka no sketchy bus routes that had to be taken cause of where the job was), home had to be close to work and school, and friends had to be close (or I would never see them on the every day schedule I wanted).

When I graduated, Alex still had his last year left, and so did most of my friends, I still had no car, (I got the bright idea of applying to grad schools, and only out-of-state grad schools), and putting these all together I choose to have no car still (possible moving costs vs. car) when my parents asked in May 2009.

For a year, I was basically still at school without really being in school. I worked at school, lived by school, hung out at school, but I just didn't do homework, or had a class, or had finals stress. I was the most relaxed, care-free SDSU student in 2010.


Present Day: Studio City; Los Angeles; Car owner.

When grad school said, "No, thank you. This year was an especially hard year to decide from all the talented writers....blah....blah...you know the rest," I made a decision that benefited Alex as he would have done for me if even I got into University of Iowa. That's love.

Moving to Los Angeles, I approached my parents with necessity of a car. Like rent in years before, like tuition for four years before, like the expensive textbooks every semester before, I knew I needed a car. The rest, I could finally take care of myself.

Holy Viv is my "Phantom Gray" (no joke) 2007 Toyota Corolla.

Viv, or Vivian in length, was bestowed by Kristiana, and Holy bestowed by yours truly because my Dad is the kind of Catholic dad that gets his daughter's first car blessed with holy water by his priest.

Holy Viv.

She's a miracle. Los Angeles is the playground of the evil, dumb, imbeciles of the road. And that also includes pedestrians. Now listen, I was a pedestrian for quite some time and because of that my loyalty is very strong to that community, therefore when you walk, no I'm sorry, RUN in front of my car, I'll actually care about your life and not continue to speed but I'll slow down and then it's like shit hits the domino-effect fan.

You slow down in L.A and you're lower than a tourist. Car language is very existent here, as much as body language. The blinker or the length of one's horn and the speed of getting cut-off tells:

1. Fuck you.
2. Fuck you and your compassion.
3. Fuck you I'm movingintoyourlane. Psychically figure it out.

I like L.A. I don't love her yet, but I want to like her. But inside my car, Holy Viv and I just don't like L.A. We kinda hate her and talk about her behind her back. We contrive of all the different ways we can humiliate her or plain laugh about the cleverly old-fashion nod to burning her at the stake. Holy Viv panics when I talk about sin in a joking manner but then yet another car cuts her off because we're going the speed limit and she shuts up. Secretly I know she's dying to Saran wrapped all those sons of bitches, especially those black Lexusi...Lexuses...Lexus-es?....

That's the devil.

That-and pedestrians.




Monday, September 13, 2010

Connect the Dots

I'm listening to the new album by Broken Social Scene. Track 5: "All to All."

The very beginning is the best start up to any song. It's quiet and rheumatic; it's haunting. It's so very Broken.

Music is a dear companion of mine. My writing would be a useless artistic pursuit without it. Weeks ago, my cousin Omar and I had a frank discussion about "my method" and about creative writing in general. He asked what I did while writing and I immediately responded with "music."

"I listen to music. It carries me through the emotional plot line I want that given story to have."

I, as a writer, seek out these waves hoping to crash them onto my readers. I know that sounds like the most ridiculous metaphor but hey, I do write. And if you ever have had a serious conversation with me you would notice that the way I can convey some serious matters is through metaphors and similes. Why? I don't know. It just comes out that way. I have only recently discovered and acknowledge this a couple of weeks ago and writing it out for the first time here.

I speak metaphors.

I speak similes.

And in this literary line of thought, I find wisdom.

More times for others than myself, but alas, that is what this blog is for. Yes, I write about food every Friday (or at least I try) and yes most times I'm not just (hoping) to talk to myself, but in the end, this blog is more rewarding to me than any other person (that I know of). So I if I rock your world, let me know. I'll feel less self-involved.

However, I often tell people that being a writer is a rather selfish mode of creativity. No matter what people say, writing partners are trouble. It's hard enough getting into your own muse. Trying to deal with another one is fuckin' absurd.

My own current muse I have nicknamed "Hurt Atwood" because my short story is an inspired child between Margaret Atwood and "The Hurt Locker." But Hurt Atwood seems to be asleep somewhere in my sub-conscious and the biggest problem lies in the fact that I'm letting it.

It's that simple.

I'm allowing for Hurt Atwood to be lazy and tiresome. I need to be in charge of our schedule and say "WAKE UP," when it needs to be woken up, and I need to say "OK I'M DONE," when I'm done.

I'm hoping between me and my desk we can get Hurt Atwood in major, serious, working shape.

Every time I have relayed my initial brainstorm for the story to anyone the reaction is the same: "what?! that sounds sooo good."

And here I am: sitting on "soo good" because I'm at a stalemate with the story and I think too much about where it needs to go instead of letting it be and get there itself.

I'm going to get back to my music. I'm literally going to make a playlist. Normally I would shuffle through my collection but I find that it's disruptive to switch out of my Word window to my iTunes only to change the song till I'm satisfy with the melody.

Yes, the music is that influential.

So tomorrow (because I literally can't keep my eyes open pass 10:30 pm anymore) I will create "new playlist" and call it "Hurt Atwood" and I will make as long of a playlist as my own collection will allow and will musically weave this story's emotional plot line. I will make such dots and hope to connect.

Because when I finish my last sentence, or what have you, I care more about where you are, than where I am. I hope that my writing will always reflect that philosophy: you before I.

Because it's your journey with my words that makes my art important to me. And worthwhile.

So thanks to the few who read this. I'll remember you till the end.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pajama Productivity

I haven't gone to the public library yet. So the show and tell blog will be for later this week. However what I did do today on my only day off was sit in my pajamas for the better part and watched movies/Veronica Mars.

My consensus:

-The Young Victoria was not as bad as I had expected. A bit monotone in plot but wonderfully acted on Emily Blunt's and Rupert Friend's part. I was very much impressed with Friend's subtle ability to be the love interest. The whole romantic plot line of the film was actually overall not cheesy, or rolling-of-the-eyes quality. So cheers to that.

-The Notebook. I know. But after not-so-cheesy-teary-eyed in The Young Victoria I decided I wanted that. The film still gets me to cry like a baby. (No surprise). And damn that Ryan Goshling and Rachel McAdams for being meant for each other and but are now broken up. The movie: truly bittersweet.

-Veronica Mars, Season 3, episodes 19 & 20 are the final two in the third installment of a cleverly written detective meets high school melodrama. You got mystery, intrigue, love triangles, and sass. I must say, it's watching a sassy female lead that makes me think I could have a place in this world after all.

-Speech writing. I wrote my maid of honor speech after watching The Notebook. Honestly more than any other hopeless romantic intention, I watched the film because my mom gave my sister, Karla, the movie as a gift at her bridal shower. I knew I needed to get on writing this ever-so important speech and watching the film did its job: it inspired. Immediately following the end and as the credits rolled with it's wonderfully sad piano ballad, I wrote.

And I liked it.

Even after a quick edit, and adding only one more sentence, it was there: what I wanted to say and in the only way I could say it in. It was very me to very Karla and Andy. Or I hope it is. The biggest challenge lies in my ability to read it and still articulate coherently while crying.

I did this all while wearing my pajamas. And I have to say, I wanted it that way. For working almost every day of the week, I take pleasure in not having to go somewhere on my day off. The whole not having to dress or wear make-up is the best part. I highly recommend to all the ladies out there to have such days, especially make-up free days.

If anything, I making up for the fact that I work tomorrow and it's Paper or Plastik Cafe's (my new job) grand opening party. So I have to dress up, twice. But I'm happy to, so far the cafe has been a great success with various blogs and yelp reviews that are singing our praises. My personal favorite yelp quote is "even though they have fancy pants coffee, the staff is all very down-to-earth and friendly."

So there you have it: my Thursday.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Food For Thought: Carpe Diem

I'm a sucker for breakfast, especially ones that other people cook for me. One day I'll finally get Alex to make me breakfast and I'll wake up to pancakes and bacon sitting gorgeously in front of me, in bed.

But until then, I find Sunday that is conveniently my first day off in the past two weeks is no better time to go out and get me some breakfast. So I did.

I walked, which was refreshing considering all the driving I'm now doing. 2 minutes later me and Alex find ourselves standing in front of "Vivian's Cafe: Best Breakfast in the Valley!"

There's a crowd waiting to be seated which is already a good sign. And while I'm about to open the door to make my way to the hostess a nice gentleman opens the door for me. I say thank you and smile that the L.A crowd has those sweet spots. After checking in for a table of 2, Alex turns to me and says:

"Do you know who that guy was?"
"What guy?"
"The guy who opened the door for you!"
"Who?"
"The guy who plays Chuck on 'Chuck.' The spy show on NBC."
"Oh really! He's nice."

It's good to know that one of the few people I have met since moving here with good manners was an actor. I find it a respectable thing to meet fame with humbleness. The day I meet Tom Hanks I'm letting him know that.

So breakfast, I could smell from the outdoor waiting area all the bacons and pancakes being passed around. We were seated and I the food fates-that-be smiled warmly on me.

"Vivian's Cafe: the home of the banana pancake."

I love bananas. I'm Guatemalan. Why wouldn't I?

I love pancakes. For breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (Pancake dinners are my favorite).

Now Jim Gaffigan brings a hilarious point that the pancake is just fried cake we decided to make even more gluttonous by drenching it in sugary, liquidity sauce. But how does that not sound good?

I'm sorry folks but I'm over this yogurt and a nice small peach crap for breakfast, especially on a Sunday. It's sinful. God did not give us taste buds only to torture them and neglect them with the same ol' dietary meals. I get that on the Mon.-Fri. grind the quickie, more healthy breakfasts are the go-to and that's what I do, but for the weekend and the day before you get back into the grind work-wise and food-wise, you should indulge. One of the highly underrated keys to happiness is a pleased palette.

Today I was very please. My pancakes arrived polka-dotted with warm, gooey banana slices. Sitting all pretty on top. Each piece I cut and forked was strategically placed around each of the bananas. And each bite reminded me why banana was king.

Although, for the first time, I must criticize Vivian's for just one minor detail in the banana pancake set up, which is that I wish the slices were not only on top but also mixed in with the batter as well. Double the banana and double the joy. And I only say this because the banana I did have was an amazing texture. It's the softness. The pure supple state of the banana that makes the pancakes at Vivian's worth trying. Have a small side of bacon for crunch and that balanced taste of salt with sweet and you're ready to take on Sunday with zest.

My advice to all who read: don't skip one of the most important meals of the day. Don't half-ass it. Don't pass up the opportunity to hang out with friends or family and greet the morning with pancakes and laughs. Take your time. And I mean really take your time.

One of the most important meals of the day wants you to appreciate and get why it's so important.

Because on the weekends, the importance lies in the very act of defiance to the fast life.

Go bananas.




Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Green Movement

The only con to working so early is that your day becomes so long. I was up at 3:40 am today. Yesterday at around 8:30 pm I realized that tomorrow was a shower day. 8:30 I know does not sound late. To some, and on the weekends, its just the right time to start cranking up “I Gotta Feelin’” by Black Eyed Peas and drink the night away. But on this Monday night it meant bedtime was soon and the shower another thing in my way from sleep.

Sleep is a precious commodity these days. Unfortunately I spoiled myself in the past several weeks sleeping in late and staying up late. The café was still under construction and training only a few days in between so I basically got a accidental vacation out of it. Now I’m paying the price and trying to keep my eyes open and nap-free in order to be ready to beat by 8:30.

It’s kinda of working.

I lay on my bed for what seems to be one minute of just decompressing and then DONE. Two hours later I curse myself. I don’t even want to know what will happen when I get a real bed vs. my endearing futon. My guess: another hour.

Business at Paper or Plastik is rising slowly but surely. Today I got off earlier than schedule and I found myself at home and lying on my bed at 10:07 am.

10:07?!

During accidental vacation that was when the day began and I peaked out of my covers.

“Okthen.”

I proceeded to intentionally fall asleep for 3o minutes and accidentally fell for 120 minutes. By then I felt more normal that it was noon.

But I have to say that it’s a bit thrilling that truly a whole day is ready to be seized still after a normal opening shift (5 am – 1 pm). There’s so much I want to explore and do while being in a new city. (Fencing classes will most likely begin in October after I purchase and change to an iphone and then things will really get fun. En grade!)

Today I left the comfort of my apartment and finally got the chance to check out Aroma Café. After this blog I’m checking out their neighbor, Portrait of a Bookstore. Tomorrow I’m checking out the Studio City public library branch.

I’m currently working on my untitled atwood/the hurt locker inspired short story. But I’m itching to get my hands dirtier-in research. I’m in a very learning addictive phase in my life now. Leaving the classroom after decades, my brain, like any good addict, is having frantic withdrawals.

I want to learn and right now I need to learn something that costs no money.

Hence the hold on fencing.

So tomorrow I’m hitting back to the drugs: books-and shelves of it. I’m signing up for a library card and I’m making Aroma Café my temporary desk till my actual one is finished up. I cannot allow myself to waste.

Knowledge is my green movement.


*Next blog: show and tell.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

VG2: Reflections

Considering I haven't gotten a new paycheck since I left San Diego 3 1/2 weeks ago, "Food for Thought" had to be put on hold. However, I have a lengthy mental list that I keep adding to every day and so as soon as next Friday and that first new job paycheck gets deposited there will be a chain of delicious new thoughts. In the meanwhile, I decided to revert you back to another feature I am now officially adding to my ice cream space: my viral gallery.

Every day I find it an exciting quest to add another collection. I enjoy the fact that I can direct my photographic passion in a certain direction until I and a dark room finally have time and, most especially, money to meet.

What follows is the second installment: "Reflections."


"Ol' Blue Shades"


"Through the Looking Glass"


"High-Five"


"Lit"


"Ruffled"



Tomorrow more words will be up. Pinky promise. I'm sure your life is not the same without my rants and stories. Right?

Write.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

LA Artist

Ok. I'm up and running again. My internet is alive and well.

As most of you know, I moved to LA over a week ago. Studio City to be precise. So far, I haven't got lost as many times as I thought I would (thank you photographic memory) and once I even found my way home from being lost. No iphone, no calling alex in a panic, not even a tear. I literally deduced from location that such main street was a main street near my apartment and taking it till I hit another familiar street would at least get me in the right direction. And it did. And I didn't cry.

Small victory of the day.

Being in LA is completely strange. I lived close to it for most of my adolescent life in Covina, 45 minutes away, off the 210. 5 years later spent in San Diego, 2 and half hours away, the 5 to the 8, I'm here: in the thick of it.

To give you all a large landmark of where I am: Universal Studios. And the Hollywood Bowl. Both are very close. And for all you savvy bar hoppers, I'm a 2 second walk from Fox and Hounds.

But what's really been exciting nowadays is my new level of coffee-making. Now, I'll be honest and tell you that I applied for 20+ jobs as an assistant, personal assistant, and office manager. It wasn't until I had about 2 weeks left before the big move that I succumbed and applied for a barista listing on craigslist.

"Artistic Baristas."

A new cafe was opening up in Los Angeles and they were looking for more than just a barista. They wanted an artist who happen to know how to pull a good espresso shot. And yes, I fancy myself an artist. Telling a story, even more so a good one, is an art. (By the end of any story I've written, I got hair pulled, teeth grinded, and an exasperated last breath in the form of a final period. Writing is a cruel, rewarding art)

So I applied. I applied because I thought to myself how cool it would be to work with all new equipment. I love Peabody's but our tools are constantly showing their wear and tear. Thinking of a shiny new tamper (what you smush the espresso grinds with before you pull the shot) was enticing.

An hour after submitting my resume and small paragraph of "this is me," I had an interview.

Well, ok!

2 interviews later, and hours of traffic, I was hired.

Paper or Plastik (the k is style, I know, but I swear to you we're not cool-pretentious, we're cool-hey why not a k?)

The place is a work of art. I kid you not. You can tell immediately that artists designed and constructed this small, beautiful cafe. No detail has been left behind. I knew from the moment I walked in during my first interview, even in the mist of construction, that I wanted to be a part of this space.

I wanted to exist in it. And to work in it.

Now this is surprising because I was going to retire. Years of the same thing everyday had me ready for something different.

And well, life gave me just that.

Yes, I essentially do the same thing: make you damn good coffee. But with Paper or Plastik and Intellgentsia, I'm making you damn fuckin' good coffee.

When you come in, you'll get it. The standards are higher, the quality unnerving, and the mere experience of it will be unique. That's what getting me: the uniqueness. I am a part of this new movement of the coffee industry, known to the coffee connoisseurs as the "3rd wave." (now if only feminism could follow as swiftly... come on Black Widows!)

I am a part of a beginning. And it feels right for who I am now, and what I want now.

It is a surreal thing to understand the forces of what you want and who you are. We constantly phase in and out of chapters in our life. But most times, it's hard to remember or even recognize when the beginning actually starts.

This beginning is so clear I have nothing left to do but chuckle at it because it seems so familiar. Like I was here before. A deja vu you feel instead of see.

I know I sound a bit off

but hey,

I'm an artist.



Monday, August 2, 2010

An Appreciator

I've been gone for awhile. I'm sorry. Really the only excuse is the increasingly "adult" life I am living. However, writing is a part of my adult life and therefore, I am being a bad, neglectful adult. (I worry for my future children)

Though it's been two weeks since the great "Con" of San Diego, it still must have a moment of time in my blog because half the reason I went was to write about it. I don't say no to a lot of things anymore for one sole reason/question: why-not?

As a writer, I take this approach: live. And live like you mean it.

Living for me entails a lot of yes's and only a no when it involves strippers or illegal activities. My logic is even though I might be a bit weary of whatever I signed myself up for, if anything, there's a story waiting for me.

Comic Con had more than one story. Naturally. I'm sure you've heard of it. And if you've haven't you're probably so cool no one likes you.

Held every year on the third weekend of July, San Diego Convention Center and the adjacent Gaslamp District are taken over. I mean-TOTAL DOMINATION. I ran to a number of zombies just trying to get back onto the trolley-hello Comic Con.

I went with three fellows: Evan (longtime friend), Alex (longtime boyfriend), and Orion (short-time friend). Orion, unaware that I voluntarily chose to come along, asked " Sooo are you like into this?"

I laughed. And said "yes, I came on my own equally-excited accord."

Orion smiled and didn't question my intentions for the rest of the day.

Again, I honestly wanted to go. I loved movies before I met Alex, and after being with Alex for 2 years, I love movies and its industry. I am appreciator for the arts and, as Alex told me once, so I am for the nerdy.

Therefore, as an appreciator for all that is epic and nerdy, I went to Comic Con.

I had a ball.

As soon as we hit the exhibit hall and I saw the banner for Harry Potter at the Warner Bros. station, I bee-lined it. I had gone faster than Alex could say my name. Faster than Evan could even realize I wasn't there in front of him two seconds before.

If someday Harry Potter had a convention, I would lose it. Lose the very few
"cool" strands I possess on my head. The day I finally visit the Wizarding World at Universal Studios, Orlando, it will be similar.

I saw all the Horcuxes, which in the Harry Potter universe, is pretty damn cool. I wanted to oogle longer but the pushy line behind me was not going to let me.

Which leads me to my only compliant about Comic Con: the extreme tight spaces that everyone is trying to get through and I mean EVERYone and the sprinkle of the smelly Coners. Smelly really doesn't cover exactly what I smelled. No deodorant-that much was clear-no shower-I know for sure-and no basic idea of personal hygiene was my problem with these few Coners. Also, I felt bad, because I knew I was witnessing a Comic Con cliche.

In its lifetime, San Diego's Comic Con International has quickly evolved to more than just the comic book nerd paradise. Movie studios took notice of its potential and ran with it. Nowadays, Comic Con is the haven for all that is awesome in comic books, movies, AND television.

I got the lucky chance to attend the Adult Swim Panel by Cartnoon Network. In attendance was Robot Chicken, Venture Bros., and Metalocalypse creators. To condense the discussion for the sake of the novel-blog I'm writing you: Seth Green was hilarious, Doc Hammer (Venture Bros.) was hilarious, and the future of Venture Bros. is bright and ridiculous.

My single purchase that day was a zombie oral history: "World War Z." I've been wanting to read the book for some time, always hearing great things about it, and as I told Evan such, a woman next time to me informed me that the author, Max Brooks, was sitting right in front of me.

Why wouldn't he be? It's Con.

Evan and I composed ourselves and began a friendly chat with Max asking what his process was for "Z." Max started out with his passion for history and basically made himself a research project and "just added zombies." So far, I'm totally into it. Its format is a collection of interviews, but the creepiness of the world slowly becoming aware of what they are exactly dealing with is the most haunting element of the book that makes it worth the read.

Side note: zombies are very in.

Overall, Friday was a good day. Alex and I made time to eat, and sit, which was absolutely vital. I spent an hour waiting to shake hands with Scooby-Douche and the gang (Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures Bros) and get an autographed picture for my new L.A. pad. Bumped shoulders with storm troopers, a very tall Darth Vader, fell in love with a Dean and Hank (Venture Bros.) look-alikes, freaked out when I snagged a Fringe XL Comic Con bag, and passed out three times on the trolley ride back.

My name is Andrea Galvez, and I go to Con.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My First Viral Gallery

I love photos. I love taking them, being in them (sometimes-my mother really pushes my high limit), looking at them, being inspired by them, and the mere fact that we are lucky to have such a technology that only seems to get better or faster or easier to continue this trail.

Photos are visible, tangible evidence that we were once there with friend A or friend B, lover A or lover B. Faces are placed in certain backgrounds. Chairs or tables or a living room, a club night we'll never forget or the day at the park that was just perfect. I love photos because they allow us to always remember, a external hard-drive for our memory so to speak.

Therefore, I give you my photos. I am but an amateur photographer, but there's something I can't explain about how certain things just kinda catch my eye. I really want to continue exploring the world of the photographic life.

One goal: learn to develop my own pictures.

Somewhere, and sometime soon, I'm going to find that dark room.


"These Heels Were Made For Walking"



"Send Me a Postcard"


"Accidental Cool"


"Quick-Hand"


"Matching Nike and Cat"


"Wood-Pane's View"


Maybe a new feature blog is now in the works....

Thursday, July 15, 2010

But

I understand why hell is hot.

This is the epiphany I had today while sitting outside at work.

I work outside and for the most part it allows me the pleasure of enjoying Mother Nature in her element. The weather sorta changing (it is southern california) and though the leaves may not fall in a great array of autumn colors, I do get to appreciate fresh air at my workplace.

But, there's a "but." The "but" was born July 12th, 2010. A mere few days ago. Before the "but" the June gloom was, yes, gloomy, yet I didn't mind. Making cup after cup of hot coffee was not bothersome nor did it push me another inch closer to heat exhaustion. No, during June gloom such worries were nonexistent.

But, July 12th came. And with it: summer.

I grew up in Chicago and outside of the city till I was 13. I lived through 12 summers and through 12 states of pure humidified hell. Now I'm thinking hell resembles something in between the humidity of my youth and the helplessness of having to be in it now (as a hard-working adult).

I believe hell torments its souls in that in-between of what it is-and its no exit sign. The real torment comes from your endless search of it. At least I can't complain about the fact that my work day has an end and I have means (a pool) to cool myself and find my humanity again. My happy, cool, and contented soul still grounded in this earthly reality.

The heat does funny things to its recipients. People get tired, grouchy, exhausted, particular (think whiny), crazed, lazy, mean, etc. etc. Heaven I imagine is like a cool 70 degrees all the time. Like light-sweater weather. Weather that allows you to dress with ease, not the anxiety of trying to dress in the heat ( even hell has to have some sort of dress code. I mean, nudity would be too easy).

People always ask me: would you rather be hot or cold?
Answer: Cold. You can add layers, but you can't take of your skin.

That's how my midwest summers were like: the constant desire to take off my skin. Morbid, you think. But I'm betting you haven't ran to the shade after riding your bike and near tears because it's still hot and your parents don't believe in air conditioning because the electric bill gets too high and you're fine just go out into the sprinkles and get wet and you'll feel better but you dry up so quick it's pointless and all you want to do is cry because you can't escape the horrible awful pit in your stomach that is just HOT.

That, is wanting to take off your skin, let it chill in the freezer, and put it back on.
Like your summer pajamas.

"But" better.

Stay cool readers.



Monday, July 5, 2010

Red Light

"Our stories are the tellers of us"

I cornered page 131 while reading Little Bee by Chris Cleave and I had to pause. I had to chew on this line for a while. Obviously as a writer, I was drawn to this line, but as a reader I was also drawn to it.

As writers, what we choose to write and how we write it and where it goes and ends, is so telling of the author. As a reader, what we choose to read, who we spend our time with, and what ways we react to the material that is printed before us, is so telling of you as a person. That's why I believe that one can't be a good writer without being a good reader, and vice versa. It's a super-connection that should hardly ever be broken. If you broke it, stop reading now. And go write.

But back to the quote-I find it to be a special thing when something breaks out of the page like so when you're reading. You're really not looking for it, but it finds you nonetheless. It's the subtle beauty of literature. Maybe it's my hobby to read quotes that makes me more prone to find such one-liners, but then I highly recommend reading quotes as an easy and rewarding pass time. Quotes have personalities all their own. Not knowing the context is half the fun. Half the great mystique of them. Without context, interpretation is open, endless.

The universe of quotes is vast and ever expanding (so much like our own). Author or no author, something is written down that can deeply affect you or at least make you sit for a bit longer in thought. Some are funny as hell while others make you cry. They hit close to home and remind of us of certain memories, certain times of our lives.

That's what I love about them: their ability to make us think. Provoke us to "smell the roses" in our thoughts. Constantly our brain is bombarded with thoughts, and lists, and memories, and doubts, that I imagine they all sorta rush around like L.A. traffic-sometimes polluting our souls with more thoughts than necessary. Reading quotes, to me, is like putting a large red light in the middle of all the chaos and putting the brakes-on everything. I read and mull over one thought and green light the next. I take my time when I read and I let myself go completely cliche by sitting and pondering.

Yes, I ponder. And yes this blog is advocating to ponder.

Our stories are the tellers of us; they can never hide us despite any bending of the truth because even the truths we bend reveal the lies we wish to be true.

And the lies are the biggest tellers.

Go ponder.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Food For Thought: The 10K Bagel

Through my career as a barista I have fallen in love with coffee (naturally) and bagels. Gone are the days of the doughnut and cup of coffee (but trust me, I still grab a bag of doughnut holes when I want to indulge) and the era of the bagel has begun...

I'm an everything bagel kind-of-gal. Give me the salt/hint of garlic/the pop and the seed, mixed that all together, toast that sucker, and I'll cream cheese my way to a quiet food heaven. Occasionally I'll vamp up my everything and make it into a breakfast bagel (sausage, egg, and cheddar), grab a large OJ, and finally say good morning. But this afternoon, today's bagel thought was a level of bagelness I have never dare to dream.

Yes, it was that epic.

As you know, I devoured Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and in her novel the great Liz had a great moment with a pizza from Naples. Two pizzas, actually.

I, in San Diego, in the neighborhood of Hillcrest, in the small shop of Big City Bagels, had a moment with a bagel.

Big City Bagels is a fantastic bagel shop. And I'll be honest-I'm a bit biased. The owners are also owners and managers to my current workplace-Peabody's Organic Coffee @ SDSU. But honestly, the actual taste had nothing to do with my current attachment to the ownership. If anything I must publicly applaud the owners (Kristee and Jenn) for the selection of workers. The talented Miss Taylor Katz was the muse to my moment. My Bagel Goddess.

I've always wanted to try a bagel sandwich. Lunch status. Be it turkey, or ham, or hummus and veggies, the bagel in substitution of sliced bread intrigued me. So I went where I know bagels best-my sister business. (I wanted to keep it in the family).

5th Ave is where I lost myself. The very first bite and I was a goner. Seriously.

I believe my first word that could escape through my first bite was "mmmmohmygodmmmohlordmmm." I really need to start bringing a tape recorder to my Food For Thought meals and attach an audio clip with my picture. When it comes to eating, the sounds are just as it important as the visuals.

If one day restaurant menus had an audio button corresponding to a special entree of the week or day in order for their customers to "hear" a "review" versus reading a description, sales would raise-easy. Were there an audio button you could press at Big City Bagel of my first bite into the 5th Ave. that sandwich would be selling so fast, it would sell out.

I know I'm sounding a tad cocky with how lovely my "mmmm" was but that's not where I'm going. Where I'm going is that certain sensory that we often don't believe belongs with food: sound. When I hear neighbor from the next dining table "oooo" "mmm" their way through their meal I sneak a peek and order the same. "When Harry Met Sally" had it right: I'll have what she's having-and what I'll have is another 5th Ave. please.

It was an incredible tower of flavor. Everything bagel (what else?), then garlic herb cream cheese spread, sliced turkey, crispy bacon (and I mean crispy in the best way. most deli's when using bacon on a sandwich slap your meat with soggy pieces versus the good crunch every sandwich needs), thick tomato slices, sliced avocados, and muenster cheese-Muenster. The fact that BCB chooses muenster as their go-to cheese makes all the difference. Muenster is a highly under-rated cheese, and BCB seeing its great flavor potential receives my deepest culinary respects.

Now back to the sandwich-

This glorious tower is all placed one layer at a time (with sublime care by Miss Katz) and placed to be slightly toasted and delivered warm and gooey to yours truly.

Eat without care. Erode the 5th Ave till nothing but the poppy seeds. Let it be a small piece of evidence that something of bagel genius was once on this paper basket and now lies in your stomach and lingers on each taste bud.

All 10,000.

Rarely do I find the need in my mellow lifestyle to venture out to 5th ave. and parade around in heels that kill (my feet) and pay 30+ dollars to just get into somewhere "cool," but this 5th Ave. requires none of the above. Just me and my taste buds.

Say ahhhh.....

Friday, June 18, 2010

Food for Thought: Soul Quesadilla

The day a farmer's market was organized on campus, I rejoiced.

In a partnership between the enviro-business society and Aztec Shops (the non-profit organization in charge of all food services on campus) the farmer's market was scheduled every Thursday 10am-3pm. Committed to giving students a a day of endless possibilities while teaching the green, sustainable movement of the independent seller and grower, the farmer's market was a great step forward for SDSU.

Eating on campus gets old the third week you're on a meal plan. Panda Express can only keep you satisfied up to the 5th time in a row you have it. Orange chicken, as fabulous as it is to so many people's mouth, is highly over-rated. So are most corporate chains in my opinion. Call me a cheerleader for the average joes' and their independent-canopy-mobile-restaurants, but when you got nothing to lose, the food just comes out better-cooked with purpose: to please the paying customer.

However, today's thought is not SDSU Farmer's Market, that anecdote was used in order to explain the inspiration behind my re-falling in love with-food and its farmer's market.

When school ended so did the easy opportunity to a market, but it's summer and the still-time before friends part and grow up, the farmer's market and all its distinctive flavors await you.

Let me recommended Ocean Beach's Farmer's Market: Every Wednesday, 4-8 p.m., the really good quesadilla stand (aka Gourmet Tamales)

The really good quesadilla stand is my path to righteousness. As a full Guatemalan, certain elements in Latin cooking are religiously followed such as the tortilla. The tortilla was my bread-forget the butter-to my childhood.

Frijoles: check.
Huevos: check.
Tortillas-CORN: check.

Corn tortillas readers, not flour. If you want to eat any Latin food right, do not, I repeat, do not puss out and opt for the flour. Flour really is, in this case, unnecessary "bad carb" option. My question to you is why would you fill your stomach up with every heavy flour bite you take and increasingly have less room for the main course: the meat, the spices-the DISH.

My consistent problem with the modern quesadilla is such: flour, flour, flour. Every place I've gone has nothing but. At times, to fight my good Guatemalan fight I want to order the fajitas (which gives you the option for flour or corn), order corn, and ask for a bag of cheese. With that nefty skillet those fajitas come on, I can make do. Plus now I got grilled veggies to add to my impromptu quesadilla.

But Gourmet Tamales had me at hello corn.

Normal sized and simply exquisite, Gourmet Tamales sold three variations: cactus, spicy black bean, and chicken.

Again, as loyal chickentarian, I instinctively chose the chicken. Two please. What occurred after my 4 dollar exchange was 1. I burn my lip from eagerness and 2. had the best quesadilla to date.

Not only was the chicken plentiful, but its flavor was how-do-I-put-it-humbling. Sometimes, in a naive attempt to be "Mexican," the chicken is cooked with too many spices and too many bad decisions. Add too much cheese, and that damn flour tortilla and I shake my head to the chef, or the microwave.

At Gourmet Tamales though, I saw two large flat skillets and a line of quesadillas so neatly stacked, it was as though they were ready to march, diligently into my mouth, and my neighbor's.

The cheese was slight, my guess is Jack, but I'll get back to you on that one. Sometimes, my research gets compromised by savor. But cheese done just right, chicken bubbling in the middle of crispy-bent corn tortilla and I knew I was home. Spicy black bean almost made me cry I thought so much of my mom and my dad.

With age, my palette has grown, expanded and given the confidence to try. I grew up on a great food and in my child's heart I knew it, but my immature taste buds refused to let me enjoy it . In a way, now in my twenties, I'm rediscovering the food of my childhood and recognizing all the familiar smells and realizing all the new elements I never was mature enough to appreciate then.

Biting into these chicken quesadillas, I had another moment of crossing such bridge-me then and me now.

These moments remind me that food is an emotional journey as much as it is a hungry one. Soul food is all around. You just have to spot yours and bite in.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Like a Fine Wine

Mystery is meant to be historical.

Yes, that is a biased statement and I'm sticking to it.

Modern mysteries, in my opinion, are faulty and feeble. A mystery is only as good as its setting. Setting, is everything in mystery. There's something about the creaks in the maid's quarters, or the blow of the master's curtains in his suite as he lies awake taunted by what has surpassed-the knife gleaming inside his mind, inside the right-hand draw in the desk in the study.

Maybe because I grew up playing Clue any rainy day chance I got, but modern mysteries seem so-bland.

Historical mysteries have a certain texture to them. There's layers of class structure, family dynasties, and old-school inspector quips that make the book hum as you turn its pages quicker and quicker with each increasing clue to the final ah-ha.

I first fell in love with the genre when I stumble upon Kate Ross and good ol' Julian Kestrel. Her world was fascinating as I followed Julian to one grand murder after another. Only four books made it into Miss Ross's life before she was taken from us, dying of cancer in 1998. Almost as sad as when Harry Potter ended, my travels with Julian were ones I never wished to end.

Since then, I'm very skeptical when it comes to my next historical mystery. The covers are clever tricks: an ominous lamp post, a dark cobblestone with a silhouetted figure at the end-a calligraphy title, promising you the world-the historical world.

As an avid book shopper, the key to success is to read the first 5 pages, if you have more time I advise a chapter then-especially with historical mysteries. You have to get a feel for the right texture the novel should have. Smooth-smooth as a baby's bottom. The opening should ease you in and the hook (the murder) should be the first event of the novel without you even knowing it's the murder. Therefore, when the next chapter is introduced in real time, you realize that flashback was just that-a flashback. Throughout the rest of the novel you will continue to look back on this not-so-insignificant exposition.

Exposition. Well-done historical mysteries have the best openings more so. Like a great play, the curtains rise and you immediately find yourself inside-like a closed cardboard box: imagination has taken over.

Mu-ha-ha-ha.

But I have finally found a good historical gem. "A Death in Vienna" is so far turning out to be quite fascinating because psychology, the birth of Freud's psychoanalysis, is part of the historical background. Freud, himself, even shares a scene with one of our main characters. Introducing psychology and the importance it could have with an investigation in this novel is like reading antique CSI: Las Vegas (not Miami-NEVER Miami).

Grisham is Liebermann (the doctor consulted by his good friend Detective Rheinhardt). He speaks with each of the suspects, or suspicious affiliates to the victim, in a nonchalant manner, asking questions that appear seemingly innocent and small-talk but are rather revealing when analyze later and deduce to the next step in the murder.

Psychology has been a academic hobby of mine. Learning here and there on my own, I was inspired to continue learning after taking a psychology course in the human personality. The world of psychology is an intricate web of calculated estimates and theories. Never perfect nor predictable, the human mind is a labyrinth that psychologists spend their entire life trying to navigate. Now, throw that puppy into the great historic intricacies of Vienna, circa 1902, the hub of enlightenment, and I'm so there.

Done.
Fertig.

So find that fireplace in your imagination. Curl up next to it, and read a historical mystery.

Billiard Room, Mrs. White, with the rope. Don't let her sweet maid uniform fool ya.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gina Marlowe Hunter: a clusterfuck of wonderful.

Today is not about food. Yes, it's Friday and yes therefore in the viral universe of "Ice Cream For Breakfast" it is food for thought. But today, something grander happened: Gina Marlowe Hunter was born.

I'll say no to a lot of things just to hang out with Gina: class (more times than I would like to admit), homework, reading, the gym, etc. etc. And today, again, I'm saying no to food and well, making you come along and hang out with Gina for the next couple of paragraphs.

The day I left for college, no, the day I was accepted to San Diego State, my mother began praying. She told me she was praying everyday for I to have a lovely, sweet roommate in the dorms. Of course, my mother was more afraid about the whole bunking with a complete stranger than I was..but she prayed on.

Gina, to my mother, is her pray, embodied in a feisty, spunky, lovable girl. For that, she will always be so very special to my mother.

But as for me, it's hard to put a word to it, let alone, several. I knew this birthday blogcard would be difficult because when is it ever easy to talk about a best friend-as an adult?

Best friends when we're young are sacred and held next to our hearts in chains with "B.F.F" embossed in diamonds. We hold hands with them in elementary school, wrap our arms around each other's necks in middle school, and in high school we hug them. But as we leave the safe confounds of our school years and enter into the first taste of independence and of important choices, it's hard to hold onto the small things that matter to us.

Rent, bills, tuition, books, books, jobs, homework, essays, finals, and merely keeping our GPA up is what takes priority. Granted as freshmen we learn the hard way to understanding these priorities, but making any friends is our top priority. Still "fresh" from our comforting lifestyles in our hometowns, we know that our friends are everything, but where to find them on a vast, diverse campus?

Everyone is playing the lotto, and I hit the Mega Jackpot.

I picked my numbers (answering a roommate placement questionnaire) and held onto my ticket. The wheel turned and the balls fell. Each number lining up to my ticket-I hit Gina.

And my winnings leave me speechless.

Gina is clusterfuck of wonderful things. It's honestly one of the best ways I can describe her character, her nature of pure awesomeness.

You meet Gina and she tricks you-she seems normal. She seems easy-going-mellow kind of gal. But all tricks-nothing but a bunch of smoke and mirrors.

Gina is not normal. The other qualities of easy-going and mellowness, yeah, that's true, but not without the real gritty truth-Gina is 110% a nerd. A child nerd-to be more precise. The 8-year-old spunk of a tomboy has not left her. Gina will kick, crawl, army-crawl, skip, jump, cartwheel her way to you versus walking. Barefoot too. That's how she really gets into your heart-you have so much fun watching her do it that you never think twice about letting her.

It is one of the most natural occurrences of my life-loving Gina.

One night we laughed, and I would never be the same again.

I said goodbye to many things when I left to San Diego. Broken-hearted in more ways than one, I moved to San Diego with a heaviness. Laughing with Gina one random September night in 2005 about my package of sliced potatoes, I left it all-my weight, my aches, my pains. From then on, each day only got better. And each year.

In college you find your best friend(s) in a very organic way. I hate to sound so pretentious (trust me Gina would kill me or just pinch me if I ever sound pretentious) but something about the environment in college, makes the development of friendships different-stronger. Gina has seen the worse of me, and I of her. Gina has seen the best as well, and has seen mistakes that lead to bigger consequences. The game of Life becoming more prevalent to each one of us as we grow older in it.

Gina's signature is on my college degree. Next to the Dean of the English department and President Weber.

Gina Marlowe Hunter
Best Friend, San Diego State University

She's on my resume.

She will be on my wedding invitation.

On my children's birth certificates.

On my life insurance papers.

On my first home owner's deed.

On my published novels.

Gina will be on some very important papers. She has to be. She's my person.

Happy Birthday friend of forever and ever.
Loving every bit of you since '05 and going strong...





Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Instant-Watcher

If there's anything I watch more than movies, it's T.V. I know-no big deal. What else would you be watching if not T.V. when you don't opt for a feature film. But I watch T.V.-not flip through the channels and decide that a Jersey Shore marathon is how I will spend my Sunday afternoon. No, I watch T.V. with purpose-I have to.

When Alex and I first moved into our apartment we moved in with big dreams of cable with DVR and all the recorded shows we love ready at the click of the play button and no commercials. Again, we're big T.V. buffs and LOST to me is a way of life. LOST parties were clear and beautiful in my mind because there would be no nonsense, unnecessary ads would interrupt precious viewing time. And there would be flexibility. Everyone didn't have to request Tuesday nights off from work and set the rest of the schedule off. LOST came to us, not the other way around.

DVR was power. Power over network scheduling.

So, Alex and I were excited to say the least.

However, I am now fully convinced that demons run all cable companies. Demons that take pleasure in automated torture and never-ending scripted conversations that leave its victims wondering that maybe they are wrong, maybe they DO need to pay $300 to have the tech guy rummage around say that the T.V. was on the wrong channel for the cable.

Needless to say, Alex and I got so upset we were fighting at each other by the end of it and at that point I knew the demon had won; he turned us on our loved ones.

Nope. Forget it. F@#$ it.

Plan B: different company-only internet plus Netflix. Add instant watch over XBox 360 Live yearly subscription and presto: DVR.

I would like to proclaim here to you all on this public blog that Netflix instant watch will crush cable T.V. asweknowit. Once you have it, live it, press it, for one day-you're finished. Instant watch has all the great perks of DVR-no commercials, strictly T.V. viewing-business, non-Cox-cable-demon affiliated, pleasure.

Every month instant watch gets cooler and awesomer. Recent addition includes all seasons of Reno 911, and ALL, I mean ALL the great Nickelodeon shows of my 90's youth: Doug, Rugarts, Hey! Arnold, Ahh! Monsters, and Angry Beavers.

The dawn of an old age is upon us.

May I remind you that all this "instant watch" is included with actual dvd rentals we get in the mail too-the old fashioned way.

I'm watching the fifth season of The Sopranos, Fringe, Hey! Arnold, Reno 911, Party Down, and Lost (seasons 1-5) all at the same time. Juggling new and old favorites; I'm in T.V. heaven. And if I need instant cable network gratification, I say hello to Hulu. So new Office, Lost, Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution, and 30 Rock is still there. Viewed by my eyes and my heart. Whenever the hell I want.

I'm always on a quest for great T.V. and most times, I actually enjoying coming half-way through all the madness because the series has been put on dvd, on instant watch, and can be viewed in partial or full marathons, consuming you like a movie. Endless hours of good writing and plot devices, which nowadays we try hard to get.

The day reality T.V. became the "it" thing, my T.V. heart died a little. And with each progressing year that its popularity rose, it died more.

To say I was heartbroken is underestimating the simultaneous anger I felt throughout the past decade. God...a decade...

Hence, in this decade, good shows (drama or comedy) are diamonds in the ruth. Good shows cost more, may rise, may tank, may blow all the money put into it or triple its profits in the end of one season, but whatever the finances may be, T.V. plays are expensive and reality-cheap. Cheap, whore like concoctions (pardon my honesty).

So I instant-watch; the best televised verb of our generation.

Look out LOL.







Saturday, June 5, 2010

Food for Thought: Homemade Philosophy

I've realized that I yet to have a thought for anything under my absolute, weak-in-the-knees, sugar galore category of food: cake-HOMEmade cake.

I grew up in a house where store bought cakes were an insult. My mother believed that if you didn't bake it yourself you 1. didn't love the person and 2. were lazy.

I will never buy a cake for someone I love.

Now one of the greatest perks of living with a baking mother is the smell. I will never believe you if you say you don't love the smell of warm vanilla. If you don't then you are like my dear friend Jaime-smell-less. Jaime, in a small accident, lost her sense of smell. Farting to her is obsolete. Lucky woman.

But I'm not here to talk to you guys about gas, I want to talk about warm vanilla aromas. If you bake anything in your house or apartment or studio, no Glade plug-in or candle will ever match up. (Even the ones that say like "vanilla cookie" or "fresh-baked cookies." That is a fake smell and baking deserves better from you and your honesty)

I looked forward to every birthday. And my sister's birthday. And my other sister's birthday. And my dad's birthday. Birthdays were good days. No matter how tired my mom would be-8-hour work day, 2-hour L.A. traffic commute-if it was one of our birthdays, the cake would be baked. And with love.

That's the thing about baking: it's only as good as the heart you put into. As essential as butter or eggs, baking needs heart. As many cups as possible. I'm not talking about teaspoons here readers. Baking will be useless in the hands of the evil and the hated. I convinced that no good psychopath would be able to bake you a decent pie or cupcake. If Kathy Bates' character in Misery had to make a batch of snickerdoodles, we be toast.

How Martha Stewart is such a damn good baker is beyond me. I'm sure she cheats.

But with love, my mother would whip the eggs, melt the butter (never oil. my mother taught me that oil over butter-always. and trust me, it makes the cake. oh, and milk. milk over water. cake is not meant to be healthy and if it tries to be it's loveless). So the butter and milk: key ingredients. And whether you whip it yourself or whip it by hand, add a little extra milk. Just a pinch. My happy accident with extra milk made one of the best cakes of my life by far. My mother got jealous, it was that good.

I like to go with a simple vanilla cake most times, and I let the frosting be my flavorful flair. Sprinkles, decorative frosting tubes, flowers, smiley faces, even the shape of the cake can be a major part of the flair. I love using shapes. I will be buying the giant cupcake cake mold that I've been eyeing at CVS (they always have a great collection of "as seen on tv" products)

Baking was a way for me to drag the sweetness out of whatever foul mood I was in, especially in high school. Naturally in my adolescence my temper had no boundaries. Free to roam and scare the shit out of many, including myself. But the baking helped. My parents would come home smelling those warm vanilla waves and shake their heads and smile at me. I would get an extra tug in my hug from each of them on those days.

Like my mother, birthdays were big baking days for me. I would bake the night before school, heart-shaped mold buttered and floured and the next morning skip to my lucky birthday girl or boy and say "hey, i love you. here's some delicious cake."

Nowadays, my baking days are few and far apart. Partly because I lack the necessary tools to really make a spectacular cake, but I make do when important days come by. My older sister is getting married at the end of September and she has registered for some good baking items. I told her baking dates between her and I will have be initiated.

Baking, then, will take on a new level of love. It's one thing baking by yourself, thinking of that special person for who the cake is for, humming to yourself because you are so content in making this for them, with love. But to having a baking partner, someone that you love (friend, sister, mother, father, brother, cousin, etc) than the baking experience is changed for the better.

Cakes are underestimated in the bake shops. And the bakery at the grocery stores. That, readers, is secretly because the cake is meant to be homemade-that's my cake philosophy.

So grab a heart-shape mold, line up your eggs, milk, and butter, and make sure to get good vanilla extract (Trader Joe's has a great one) and bake. Because you care. And you're not lazy.

Some jobs are meant to be done by us. Not them. Never forget the power and love of your own sweat and burns.