Monday, September 26, 2011

a view, legroom, and an expensive bag

I must confess that the Vanity Fair magazine is one of my rare personal indulgences, mon petit péché mignon if you will. It’s like a virtual window-shopping for the finer things in life, a glimpse behind the scenes of the lives of movers and shakers, and insightful tidbits on geography, art, architecture, and science (albeit in much smaller proportions than the vain stuff)… all rolled into one. To me, reading my latest issue, every month, is like traveling around the world, without ever leaving my cozy lounge chair, in the company of people who do it without hardly any before- or after-thought. And in style!

So here I was, having made myself comfortable, with my cup of coffee at hand, entirely enthralled in the latest issue, when I ran into this:

Now, at that point, I had no idea who L’Wren Scott was (unbelievable, I know, that a self-declared bag connoisseur like me had never heard of the Lula bag, shameful oversight, shameful, really!) and would have completely dismissed her and her “stuff” as yet another rich eccentric with too much time and money on her hands, had I not read this phrase: “Necessary extravagances: a view, legroom seat, and an expensive bag”.

I stopped dead on my tracks.

  • A view: I would rather come back home two days early but stay in a room with a view during my vacation. ME!
  • Seat with legroom: I would totally forgo my yearly vacation and travel every third year instead, if I could do it in business or, dare I say it, first class. ME!!
  • An expensive bag: Hello!! Have you met me?!? ME, ME, ME!!!

Cue in dream sequence:

~  * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Me, on a business (or dare I say it, first) class trip to Paris...

where I would stay in a gorgeous room with a beautiful view...


which I would leave only to go buy myself an expensive bag! 

                               Ahhhh, heaven.

(le paradis, with crêpe-au-chocolat on top)

~  * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Wait... let me indulge for a few moments more... ahhhh yessss ~ sigh ~ heaven!

The idea of necessary extravagances is not some new epiphany exclusive to only the few who can afford them. We all have something for which we are willing to shell the extra hard-earned bucks, even though we know it’s not entirely warranted or even necessary in some cases. Some people have to have their Starbucks even though they have a perfectly adequate coffee machine at home; some indulge in the collection of expensive shoes; some in different kinds of perfume. I have a friend who owns the same Louis Vuitton bag and wallet, in all the available colors, which she does not use! She lovingly keeps them stored in a specifically designated area in her closet, and she takes them out from time to time (I suspect when life gets to be too much), dusts them off, parades herself in front of her mirror adorned with a matching set, and just as lovingly puts them back in the closet. To her, that’s a necessary extravagance.

Whether it’s a fancy car, stamps, figurines, cigars, or, oh I don’t know, maybe even bags, we all have something that we know we shouldn’t acquire, yet can’t help but do. And it gives us immense pleasure, akin to what I presume the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur gives to one “sky-scraping beauty” that is L’Wren Scott. Cheers, darling, be sure to say hi to the Maharaja for me!

 What is your little guilty pleasure? What is your necessary extravagance?

Monday, September 19, 2011

cooking by the book

I am all for doing things by the book. Specially cooking, which is a rather precise undertaking. So I happily started watching this video, fully expecting an entertaining if not informative take on the topic.

So you can imagine my jaw dropping when I saw this:

Keep watching, don’t stop at the first few frames.

Now before you start calling me old, or old-fashioned, or a ninny, please understand that I like swearing as much as the next guy. In some instances, like when someone cuts you off dangerously in traffic -- or takes your email party invitation sent to your daughter's new class, and, instead of RSVPing for it as any normal being would, replaces each detail with their own party's, like time, place, RSVP date, while keeping all of the verbiage, design, and even the fonts, then sends it back to the whole class, including you, without ever acknowledging your original invitation, and fully expects you to RSVP for their party--, a little "idiot" or "imbecile" doesn't suffice. Supplementing them with the expletive fucking or even its milder version freaking, simply expresses the sentiment better. You don’t know them and they don’t know you but it’s safe to say that, at this point of the exchange, you know enough to justify the expression, 'ya know what I mean? 

But there is something about this video, the blatant avalanche of gratuitous swearage, which just rubbed me the wrong way. Like you extended your hand to shake someone else's and they in turn punched you in the mouth, nose, eyes, and then, just for effect, spat on you and walked away.

I must confess that the underlying message of this music video was completely lost on me. Because I couldn't really hear any of the lyrics that weren't "motherfucker". Because the suggestive juxtaposition of a belligerent male to a pink haired little girl sweetly singing about being good, to me, bordered on verbal pedophilia. Because by the time I picked up my jaw off the floor, the clip was over. And I don't care to watch it again.

I'm not impervious to the changing of times, the changing of cultural conventions, or the changing of the music scene itself. I get it: each generation has to push the musical boundaries of its predecessors to reclaim it as its own. My parents' generation gave us rock 'n roll, and Elvis, and the Beatles, and Johnny Carson. My generation's contribution was the grunge genre, and Kurt Cobain, and Alanis Morissette, and Queen Latifah. But I guess I dropped the ball at Eminem and the whole gang rap movement, the gateway apparently to where we now seem to be, herein exhibited. Was I subconsciously suppressing and/or avoiding this (whatever kind of music this is) altogether? Has this become our new normal while I was busy replaying my favorites? Is this what the future holds, musically, for my daughter, or will it (gasp) get even worse?

When did we turn the sharp corner from entertainment to verbal assault?

Monday, September 12, 2011

sweet saturday: the maiden edition that never was

After recently reading about it here, here and here, I could no longer resist the urge to jump on the Sweet Saturday bandwagon.

Who made this awesome sweet treat?

actual photo of fruit tart

Wait! Before you say anything, take a look at the next photo...

actual fruit tart in its original box

Before you start throwing your shoes at my head, hear me out:

I bake. Correction: I love to bake. Whether I am good at it or not, the jury is still out. Some of my concoctions are barely edible; some score pretty high on the wince-o-meter; some are just Meh; some are actually not half bad. Fortunately for my friends and family, I have as of yet managed not to poison anyone. So yes, I bake, correction I love to bake.

I bake mostly on weekends to have something sweet for my family to snack on during the week. More often than not, I do it with the little Miss Em. She even has her own set of pink tools. And we both love traditions, so we decided to get on board with this one. Furthermore, we decided to make this past Saturday our maiden, formal, Sweet Saturday: She was going to wear her princess pink apron and I was going to take lovely pictures of us, after throwing some flour on our faces, and then blog about them with my legendary charm and wit (ambitious undertaking, also a little delusional, as you can see).

And then Saturday came. More like pounced on us. Between her first day of Saturday school, registration, book buying, supplies buying, the obligatory Mommy-and-Emily breakfast sendoff, then the weekly visit to the library, then some more errands, then the phone call for me to be home for someone to come borrow something from my house (which necessitated skipping the shopping of the ingredients altogether), and voila, the morning and afternoon were shot. SaturDAY was quickly turning into SaturNIGHT. The week had been just as busy, with back to school, back to music classes, etc. So here I was, standing with my camera in the middle of my kitchen, still missing about 5 integral elements for the recipe we had chosen together. Plus I had intended to take some of the baked goods to a housewarming party that night and I had bubkus.

So, instead, the hubby (who is exemplarily patient with the constant changing of plans) picked up the above-featured beauty from our favorite baker in Pasadena, the modest, unpretentious but expert Vrej.

And so, instead of baking, we went online and looked at pretty pictures of what others had baked that day. And that night, we feasted on this sweet view, while eating our delicious tart.

A & A, may you be blissful in your new house, and may you invite us often! Amen.

Monday, September 5, 2011

civilization, interrupted

Picture this: Lazy hot afternoon. One week before school starts. A mom from my daughter's school and I, along with three kids between us, go to the Grove for lunch at the American Girl and some back-to-school shopping. I get a glass of Pinot Grigio, she gets two of champagne. The girls are properly hypered up by their respective shakes/smoothies. They want to please please please go on the cling-clinging, happy-happy trolley (which goes back and forth between the two ends of the outdoor shopping center). Lazy midweek afternoon, not too many people with the same idea. Even the usually tooth-paste-commercial-smiley and seriously be-dimpled Mario Lopez seems subdued under his pancake makeup.

Why Extra! tapes its shows at the Grove is still a mystery to me.
The flower child is his.
So we climb to the top of the double-decker and each plop down in a two-person bench. All following riders do the same.

Then this woman comes over and wants MY SEAT.

not actual woman from the trolley

Okay so maybe she wasn't in full burka, just a tasteful scarf. And I'm not exactly sure what she said to ask for the seat, her broken English was muffled by the delighted squeals of the child she was carrying. Nevertheless, once I get the gist of it, with a huff proportional to the occasion, I collect my shopping bags (yes, I did buy a new purse, how could I resist? I am but a mere mortal!) and move to the front to sit with the rest of my party. But I'm not happy.

I fume a little, my back to her. How rude, right? I was there first and everyone knows the first-in-line hard-and-fast American rule. We're a country of law and order. We don't all run to the open door the minute the plane lands, trampling on kids and grannies, we march in an orderly fashion to the exit when told to do so, mindful of our respective row delineation. We are civilized. At the entrance of the freeway, when two lanes merge at the stop light, we take turns, docile drivers that we are: one from each lane, in turn. We honk, scream from the window, gesticulate furiously, and altogether shit ourselves when somebody dares to break the sacro-saint yet unspoken rule. We are civilized. Right?

So I fume anew, feeling totally justified in my anger. Then I overhear her speak to her kid in an Arabic dialect that I do understand. So, on a whim, I turn to her and ask her in my broken Arabic, as nicely as my fury can muster: "Why did you get me outta my seat when there were so many other free spots in the back?" And before she answers, as I'm looking to the back, I realize they are all taken. By men. Plenty of room if you want to sit next to a man. And considering her scarf and her modest clothing, it is safe to assume that she is not allowed to be in close proximity to unfamiliar males. I'm already feeling pretty crappy about my outburst when I return my attention to her to hear the end of her explanation of how she wasn't trying to take my seat, just share my bench, and how sweet of me to give it all to her. She apologizes that she misled me with her poor English. She thanks me again profusely for my bench. My bench, pfft. All the rage leaves me all at once.

I am a horrible, horrible, little, petty person.

The more she talks, the worse I feel. She is delighted that I understand her so she tells me that she is a tourist from Saudi Arabia and it's her first day in Los Angeles. She loves it. She asks me how I can stand living in such a beautiful place (oddly full of road-rage nutcases like me, she luckily doesn't add). Asks me about life in L.A. in general. I mumble something about crazy traffic jams, and 9-to-5s, and life in general being too fast to enjoy the city. I am still mortified. Oblivious to my state of mind, she chatters away some more then hands me her camera with a facial question mark. I hastily oblige and take a picture of their smiling faces, with the Barnes and Noble building and its prominent American flags as backdrop. I want to crawl somewhere and disappear. Luckily the trolley finally stops and we disembark in a profusion of drinks, shopping bags, and little hands.

not the picture I took

I ponder about this for a bit on my way home, when little miss Em finally poops out and allows me the requisite silence to formulate full thoughts. What would've happened if I hadn't spoken her language? If I had walked out without hearing her out? How many people are misunderstood, how many things are lost in translation? Where does Mario Lopez get his teeth cleaned?

I didn't get to apologize to her, she did all the talking and asking. In this here public mea culpa, I am hoping to make amends for that.

Have you had any instances of "lost in translation"?