Saturday, July 31, 2010

Of conditioners and cookies

There are a lot of things about living in New York City that are inconvenient. But looked at askance, it's easy to see them as charming. One of these things is how in-your-face and drastically affecting of your life/plans/weekend the weather is here. When it's cold, it's f-ing cold. And you have to speed-walk umpteen blocks imagining the toastiest thoughts no matter what, every day (no running to the protected bubble of your car). You have to wear a hat or you will die, and that messes up your hair. And in the summer, it's laughable how quickly your best attempts at a toilette become the sweat trickling down your lower back. And when you're home, you seclude yourself in the one room where you can attempt to control the temperature: your bedroom with the air conditioner hanging out the window. And that drastically affects your electric bill, (although at least now I am environmentally guilt-free on this account because I use WIND POWER!) BUT. Isn't it sort of charming that even though central air conditioning is commonly used across huge swatches of our country, our old NYC buildings still cling to this antiquated solution to the temperature concern? Doesn't it make you smile just a little to see all those boxes in those windows? By the way, how terrifying is it that these colossal, heavy machines are preciously perched on our windowsills?! I frequently have visions of my unit suddenly, soundlessly, swinging backward over the edge of my window to crush some unsuspecting passerby below.

I do still have a so-called beef with my air conditioning unit though, even if I can squint and see the charm in it. And that is that it is ugly. There is no way around that. Well google found my weakness and advertised the above, beautiful air conditioning unit this morning as I was perusing my gmail. If only.

And now on to more delicious talk. Behold:
That may look like any old chocolate chip cookie, but it is not. Oh no, that, my friends, is a picture of some of the most delicious cookies I have ever created. Are you ready for this? Organic, whole grain, vegan, banana-chip dark chocolate chunk almond cookies. (Ok, those aren't MY cookies, they are Heidi Swanson's, from whom I pirated the picture and recipe and substituted to make them vegan.) THEY ARE DELICIOUS GO MAKE THEM NOW AND THANK ME LATER. Well, make them after you get back from Whole Foods because who has wheat germ sitting in their refrigerator? Oh, that's right, after this, you do.

(If you really want to make these un-vegan style, you can check out the original recipe by clicking on Heidi's name above. But go ahead, save some chickens and cows some grief, and make them vegan, because you can.)

Note: I am generally pretty generous when I bake. As in, I might throw in a few more chips, or quite a few more chips, just... because. Well, the measurements for mix-ins here turn out to be pretty spot on, so if you're as generous as myself, you might find that the actual dough isn't quite stretching as far as you'd like to hold the mix-ins together. Mine turned out fine in the end, but just to save yourself the worry, really just use what is recommended on this one.

Banana Chip Cookie Recipe

I look for organic banana chips - the ones I like are made with organic coconut oil and bananas.

1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (toasted) wheat germ (Toast them in a pan over low heat until they turn a darker brown and smell toasty. Really, this makes a difference.)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup coconut oil (solid, if it's too hot in your apartment, as in mine, put it in the fridge for an hour)
1 cup natural cane sugar (or brown sugar)
Egg Replacer for 2 eggs, or 1 mashed up banana
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2/3 cup
banana chips, loosely chopped
1 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup toasted almond slivers, chopped (or walnuts if you prefer)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, racks in middle/upper middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, or stand mixer, beat the coconut oil, then beat in the sugar until it is the consistency of a thick frosting (this didn't happen for me, so I just beat until well-combined). Beat in the egg substitute, and scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times along the way (important!). Stir in the vanilla. Add the reserved flour mix in two increments, stirring/mixing a bit between each addition (but not too much). By hand, stir in the banana chips, chocolate chips and almonds - mix just until everything is evenly distributed.

Drop 1 heaping tablespoon of dough for each cookie onto the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart and bake for about 7 - 8 minutes, until barely golden on top and bottom. Resist over baking, they will come out dry and not as tasty. Cook on racks.

Make about 24 cookies.

Each cookie is 140 calories, and is packed with some mighty-fine nutrients. That can be important information to know for guilt-free consumption.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What's in a name?

I'm pretty sure I am automatically biased to enjoy the song "Laura", covered by Mates of State here. Yes, it's a cover, get over it.

I'm also pretty sure I have totally fallen in love with my name. Took me long enough, eh? I always loved my nickname, Lola. I couldn't get enough of it, and wished more people would take hold and run with it. The nickname was given to me before it was linked to any connotation of sauciness or seductress in my young brain. I've never been this kind of Lola.

My newfound love for my name began in Central America, where everyone pronounced my name Laurrra. Rhymes with pow-ra. I've never taken to any other versions of my name, such as the 'Lara' pronunciation, or the French 'Laure' by which I was addressed in French class throughout middle, high school and college. But BAM-- here was a name I loved. And it was already mine! One that fit just right, and thrilled me to the core whenever anyone said it. Well, let's be honest, especially when boys said it. I thought, if only I could claim a drop of Spanish blood, maybe some Argentinian blood (they're pretty light-skinned in general, more likely to be believed), then I could make everyone start pronouncing my name the Spanish way. And though many (many) people have asked me if I have any asian heritage, no one has ever considered that I may be of Spanish descent. Anyway, I don't like to lie. I wouldn't want my very name to be a lie. A name stands for something.

My name means: victorious. It comes from the laurels the Romans used to crown victors with. When I would read this in baby name books growing up, I just shrugged. Big whoop. But now, I love being reminded of it whenever my name is used. As we all know, there are many (many) people in this world who have exceptional challenges to overcome. And compared with them, my life seems easy. But we all have our demons, and I like the occasional encouragement I get in my battles just from hearing my own name.

I've been thinking about this post ever since I downloaded this Mates of State cover. I called my mom one day-- much to her surprise, it was my third call that day due to some postal service challenges. She was surprised to hear from me, and certainly surprised to be sidelined by the "Why did you name me _____?" question. I'd never asked before. And her response, as I'd anticipated, was a vague dance around Laura Ingalls Wilder and not remembering. Not exactly the meaningful, story-laden response I'd been hoping for. (Not to downplay Laura Ingalls-- we all very much enjoyed her books growing up, and though I haven't read them recently, she is to be very much respected for being a female authoress in times when it wasn't easy to be so.) But that's alright. We can all make of our circumstances what we want, what we need.

I'd also like to say, in relation to songs of names, every time I hear this song I wish my name was Kate. I have wanted to send a CD to my niece Kate with just this song on it, because I think she'd get a kick out of it (very danceable), but I already fear that her parents are going to be concerned about the un-LDS influence I could have on their children (TOTALLY my own paranoia here, not their's... as far as I know), and I don't want to be the one responsible for any of the Thomason kids asking the "what does it mean when they say she smokes pot?" question.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I'm more than a little trepidatious about sending this query out into the internet world. But I have a few projects going on, and I've stumbled upon a question I think I could use some outside opinions on. So really, please tell me what you think.

There's a lovely thing in the acting world referred to as Type. I'm pretty sure that's all the description this concept needs. I'm trying to nail down, specifically, my type. Physically, characteristically, acting style. What cookie cutter mold can I easily be inserted into? If an agent were to ask me, 'Where do you see yourself? What type of roles can we market you for?' I would like to answer with a specific, relatable example. One whose response will be 'Hm, yeah, I can see that.' with firm nodding of the head. So I've come up with some ideas, and I'd like your response. (You can click on each other the actress's names for a reminder of who they are/what they've done.) I'd also love any other ideas you have to throw my way.

Elisabeth Moss (though who doesn't want to be Christina Hendricks right now?)
Samantha Morton circa In America
Alison Pill (Milk, Dan in Real Life, various Broadway)
Maggie Gyllenhaal circa Stranger than Fiction
Early Kate Winslet, circa Hideous Kinky or Sense and Sensibility

Other ideas are: Melanie Lynskey (not well known enough yet?), Rachel Griffiths (though too old), Toni Collette (though too old), Natalia Tena (I don't think she's had enough exposure yet, she's not well known enough, more her theatre career), Lauren Ambrose...

Oh yes, and if you need a reminder of what I'm looking like these days, (though Type is a little more than just what you look like), this was taken a couple of weeks ago...

Thursday, July 15, 2010


If you've ever asked for a book recommendation from me, I have surely recommended Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Chabon is such a talented writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed this recent book of essays he published about some of his experience being a son, husband, and father. I read the book a few weeks ago, and haven't stopped thinking about a few of his pieces, including the one this excerpt is clipped from, briefly exploring Chabon's struggle with David Foster Wallace's suicide, and his wife's near-suicide, and how what he does comes into play. (Not all of his essays deal with such dark/weighty concerns, but they are all poignant in some respect, and usually funny as well.) I recommend.

The world, like our heads, was meant to be escaped from. They are prisons, world and head alike. "I guess a big part of serious fiction's purpose," [David Foster] Wallace once told an interviewer, "is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves." The purpose or the blessing of that kind of access-- which I have often thought of and characterized by means of the word escape-- is ultimately to increase our sense of shared experience, of shared suffering, rapture, nostalgia, or disgust with our fellow humans, whose thoughts and emotions are otherwise locked away. And yet that gift of access, for all its marvelous power to console the lonely and to dislodge the complacent, is a kind of trick, an act of Houdiniesque illusion. When the vision fades and the colored smoke disperses, we are left alone and marooned again in our skulls with nothing but our longing for connection. That longing drives writers and readers to seek the high, small window leading out, to lower the makeshift ropes of knotted bedsheet that stories and literature afford, and make a break for it. When that window can't be found, or will no longer serve, or when it inevitably turns out to be only paint on the unchanging, impenetrable backdrop of our heads, small wonder if the longing seeks another, surer means of egress."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dear Readers

After my prolonged absence, I'm surprised you're back. Let's move on, yes?

An assorted combination of events has resulted in my having two whole days off this weekend. In a row. I cannot find the words to adequately impress upon you the rarity of this occasion. Due to other events, I have nothing whatsoever to do with myself. Friends/family are working, out of town, or otherwise indisposed. I had plans to return to Montauk via train today, but alas, the best laid plans... I am destined to eat all my delicious picnic food by myself.

What has driven me back to the blog is not the desire to write. Nor a need to share with my friends/family/unknown audience what's been happening to me. I think what really drives me here is the fact that my therapist is out of town for two weeks, and at the end of week one, there are far too many thoughts and feelings crowding my head and heart, and I am looking for some sort of pressure-relief valve. (I never imagined I'd grow so used to my weekly sessions that I'd feel such a difference when denied them.)

I am a pretty busy girl, but I don't, in truth, think that's the reason I've been avoiding this here ol' blog. I think the reason is that I had a lot of adventures while I was away. And as much as I love adventuring, I don't do nearly as much of it here in the City. That's not for lack of opportunity, I could create opportunities if I wanted. Yes, that does require some effort. Yes, that does require some wheedling of friends to come and adventure with me (and I hate wheedling). And yes, it usually does involve some money, even if it's just for a post-adventure refreshment of some kind. But I live in New York City, in the land of opportunity, and I just don't go adventuring every night. Or every week. And I think I'm a little ashamed of that. I feel the need to work up something more impressive, something more worthy of blogging. And when I don't, I don't write.

Well, maybe you won't mind some non-adventure posts.

Some thoughts of late:
--I went to Montauk on Monday. I've wanted to go to Montauk since I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and witnessed Joel Barrish fulfill the ultimate work/Valentine's Day doldrum dream of just getting on a train and getting the hell out. To Montauk. I've been wanting to obey Kate Winslet's beckoning voice to, "meet me in Montauk..." Well, I did not run into any Clementines or Joels there, but then I didn't have the whole 3 hour train ride to catch the eye of one because myself and a couple of friends took a zipcar instead. The ocean there was fantastic. Rough, cold, engaging. There was only a small span that we were allowed to swim in because the water was too rough outside of those limitations (which I certainly discovered when I accidentally swam out of the lines). Luckily, not too many people wanted to swim, so I had plenty of space to myself. I love swimming in the ocean, because it's a constant battle. Chris McCandless's character said something I love in the film Into the Wild:
The sea's only gifts are harsh blows, and occasionally the chance to feel strong. Now I don't know much about the sea, but I do know that that's the way it is here. And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind death stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.

That last part is the part I love. I love how the ocean demands physical engagement of you. And I love how, in the ocean, I am quite literally immersed in nature. I don't know when I'll have the opportunity to go out there again, which makes me really sad. It was a perfect day.

--I saw the Broadway production of Red by John Logan. It was transferred from the Donmar in London. It was f-ing brilliant. I savored every single word. Kept chewing on them for days afterward. I want to watch and read that play until the entire thing is memorized. I want to play Eddie Redmayne's character so badly. Damn gender.

--I was sitting in my friendly neighborhood bar this afternoon watching the Spain/Paraguay match of the World Cup. A Spaniard happened to sit down next to me, and we chatted throughout the game. When it was over, Vanessa and I paid our bill, and the Spaniard paid a little more attention to me, as his eyes no longer had to be glued to the screen. He was interested. I found him interesting. Without even thinking about thinking about it, my instincts kicked in and I deftly flitted away from the prolonged eye contact he was offering me, and the opportunity to exchange numbers. I ran away. And beat myself up as I was doing it. WHY do I do such things?! What is so scary about not being rejected? I could have had a Spanish lover, but now all I have is regret over sidestepped potential. I am now sitting in my friendly neighborhood Starbucks, hoping this local Spaniard will stop in for a beverage, and a second try at me. My chances don't look good.