Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Essay vs. The Blog

When it comes to reading, I tend to stick with certain things. A lot of it is conventional, although there is room for experimentation. I like to read novels- give me something with defined characters and a plot. I enjoy short stories because they are baby novels.

I've recently become enamored with Essays: they are the size of a short story (or long one, depending on how verbose the author is), and usually ingrained with some truth that the author has discovered at some point in their life. I had a coworker in Orlando who used to read a lot of Chuck Klosterman, and I was alway intrigued. But not enough to out of my way to read him.

It's a slow work day today, and was perusing one of the many Esquires that grace the mens bathroom, when I started reading an editorial. It was witty, funny, and spoke the truth to me. Little did I know that this amusing essay was by Chuck Klosterman- my new favorite essayist (extremely new. Granted, I've spent practically all day on the Esquire site reading his essays). He manages to roll movies, tv, music, pop-culture, old school ideals and a sense of purpose to his essays- and that's not easy.

I also have been wanting to read Lester Bangs for a while now. Ever since Philip Seymour Hoffman portrayed him in Almost Famous (one of my favorite movies of all time), I've been intrigued.

One essayist/writer that I have greatly admired, and enjoyed reading is Nora Ephron. I'm sure you know who she is, even if you don't know who she is. She wrote When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. Or at least she directed SiS. Whichever. She has a collections of essays that has been out for a while, called I Feel Bad About My Neck (and Other Thoughts on Being A Woman) that was an extremely amusing, and quick read. I highly recommend it.

I've also gotten to thinking about essays, blogs and how they are connected. I know this isn't an amazing realization. But in writing my dailiy blog entry, I'm attempting to share some kernel of truth from my life with people I've not necessarily met. And I'm not the only one out there doing this. My friend TAG shares every little preppy thing about herself with her (quite large) readership. FIB lets those of us wanting to be in NYC live vicariously, and those who do live in NYC get another perspective on the things around them. You can surf blogs all day with topics ranging from cooking, animals, cities, and guns. You could also go into your local Borders Store, and browse essay books on the same subjects for days.

I guess this puts me in the 21st century. So here I am, laying my pen and paper aside, to share my knowledge with you.

Should Have Been a 50's Housewife

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately. Nothing special, and everything I've made has been mostly from t-shirts. But still, it's a great creative outlet for me.

I used to feel as if I had all of this energy pent up inside of me, but I had no way to let any of it out. It was frustrating, because I would try to draw- but I'm shit at drawing. I can't play music. I don't sculpt or write (a lot).

But between the baking and the sewing, I've been feeling less like I'm about to burst at the seams (always a plus).

The first thing I made was a pillow for my dad's birthday. He's a big Rush fan, and I had gotten this t-shirt at a concert we went to in 2004 for his birthday. B thinks he's going to cry, because it's so sweet and adorable of me.

B and I have also been working towards thinning out our wardrobes, because we were getting to the point where we didn't wear about half of what we own. But we've also avoided getting rid of a lot of these things (mostly t-shirts) because of sentimentality. So I made the decision to make a blanket out of these t-shirts, and make them work for their keep. It's only about half finished, but I'm extremely proud of that half!

I am the ghost of t-shirts past!

Oh yeah, t-minus one week until the big trip. I've semi-started packing the car already. My dad's pillow and the directions are in there. Tonight begins the giant laundry cycle, and then the real packing begins. On the docket for this weekend: work at Border's in Friday night for the midnight party of Breaking Dawn, go to DC to visit Z (who surprised me yesterday with a call telling me he's here), laundry, packing, baking some cupcakes for my Grandma, and figuring out what to pack, to eat, on the trip.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Embarassing Music.

Once again I was tagged by TAG, with a fun and wacky meme. This one's all about music!

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 5 songs you are embarrassed to admit to others that you like and tell why.
3. Tag 5 random people at the end of post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I've taken a day to mull this over, because there isn't anything in my music collection that I'm particularly embarrassed by. I suppose the worst it gets is that I still listen to some music from high school that all of my friends have "moved past" and B gives me weird looks when I listen to it.

1. "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)" by the Offspring- The first Offspring album I bought was Americana (I know, I know- all of the cool kids had Smash first). I thought they were fun and funny. Listening to this song/album makes me think of my freshmen year of high school, and just wanting to fit in- so I listened to this song a whole lot (ironic, eh?).

2. "My Paper Heart" by All American Rejects- Whenever I hear All American Rejects (or AAR if you're neat), I'm transported back to a particularly silly day when I was working at my first Hot Topic. We had just gotten this album in at the store, so we were listening to it over the sound system. My friend Z came in- he was always up on his pop-punk- and began serenading me. And then my boss. Lots of giggling ensued, and that moment was burned into my brain forever (and makes me smile whenever it comes up).

3. "You May Be Right" by Billy Joel- I'm a Billy Joel fan. My two favorite Billy Joel albums are Piano Man & Glass Houses. While I think that Piano Man is just plain good, I think that Glass Houses is just plain cheesy and 80's. But, to quote that album, "It's still Rock & Roll to me." Although, I must admit, the song "Sometimes a Fantasy" freaks me out pretty badly. When I was a kid, I thought that it was silly- some guy talking on the phone to people. After listening to it some 10 years later, I now realize that it's about phone sex.

4. "Love Fool" by The Cardigans- The catchiest song on the album, but still the most fun. This song is connected to two, very different, periods in my life. The first is listening to the Romeo + Juliet soundtrack in my friend Michelle's room during middle school. The second is from about 2 years ago. Some friends and I had gone to I-Bar (in Orlando), and this song came on. The dance floor became insanely crowded, and everyone was just dancing and having such a good time. And it was all because of this silly song.

5. "Freak of the Week" by Marvelous 3- I rode my bike 3 miles to the record store, the day this album came out- just based on my love of this song. Unfortunately that record store didn't have it. So my friend and I rode our bikes the 3 miles back to my house, caught the bus to the mall and I was able to buy the album there. Yes, it was totally worth it. And yes- every now and then I will put on my Marvelous 3 album, and sing at the top of my lungs (on the way to work. alone. in the car).

PS- I won't be tagging anyone to do this meme (yet again). Tagging people still requires knowing people.

On another note, B and I will be taking our big trip to Upstate New York to visit family in about a week. I'm pretty excited by seeing everyone. We also haven't taken a proper road trip since December, so I'm looking pretty forward to that part, too!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Confession

I want to grow up to be an ex patriot.

Mostly because my favorite authors were either ex patriots, exiles, or just living their lives abroad. Sylvia Beech (born in Baltimore) ended up with a small bookstore in Paris called Shakespeare & Company. This was a favorite hangout of quite a few different people you might have heard of Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerald (to name a few). She single handedly got Joyce's Ulysses published (using nefarious ways too!) and helped to bring together what would later be known as the "Lost Generation" (we can thank Ms. Stein for that phrase in that context).

Another large reason why I would love to be an ex patriot is (a bit) less nerdy- I'm an Anglophile and a Hibernophile. I love all things British, English, Scottish, and Irish. Some of my favorite bands are from this area of the world (or people think that they are)- The Noisettes, Lily Allen, Sons & Daughters, The Decemberists (thought to be British by some... I believe an exact description of them was "Uber literary, pseudo British Indie Rock." I swear, I don't have super specialized taste in music...), and The Frames. I dig authors from this area- James Joyce, Roddy Doyle, Zadie Smith, Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling (we've been over the nerdy thing, right?).

Now, I know that England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales don't always get along. How the idea of "British" can be offensive to English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish people. That the English were assholes to just about everyone in the world, especially their neighbors.

But I love 'em anyway.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A to Z about me!

Of course, it's not the internet without a meme. Tagged by TAG... oh man. I can feel awful jokes and puns ahead.

A. Attached or Single? The former. For a long time.
B. Best Friend? My boyfriend, fondly known as B around here.
C. Cake or pie? What an awful thing to make me choose! Let's see... I love to bake cupcakes, but I have recently fallen in love with Dangerously Delicious Pies... I'm going to side on indecisive here, and go with both. <3<3<3
D. Day of choice? Saturday. There is no other day of the week where I'm able to sleep in and stay up late. ::shakes fist at my 9 to 5 job::
E. Essential item? The necklace that B gave me for my birthday this year. It only comes off for yoga (I'm not a fan of being hit in the face while I'm trying to relax in downward dog).
F. Favorite color? It's very recently become Teal.
G. Gummy bears or worms? Gummi Bears! You've gotta love a candy with a theme song and cartoon.
H. Home town? Margate, FL
I. Favorite indulgence? Books. Man, if we got nutrition through reading, I'd be Jabba the Hut.
J. January or July? January. Winter's the best!
K. Kids? Hopefully. Eventually. Potentially undecided.
L. Life isn’t complete without? B and the Kitties, Otter & Isis.
M. Marriage date? ... Good question. B?
N. Number of brothers and sisters? The big Zero.
O. Oranges or Apples? Apples are great, but there's nothing more refreshing than a ripe, juicy orange.
P. Phobias? Being lonely- not alone. Sometimes alone time is nice. But when I'm sick of it, it's lovely to have someone else around.
Q. Quotes?
In reading a novel, any novel, we have to know perfectly well that the
whole thing is nonsense, and then, while reading, believe every word of it.
Finally, when we're done with it, we may find -- if it's a good novel -- that
we're a bit different from what we were before we read it, that we have been
changed a little, as if by having met a new face, crossed a street we never
crossed before. But it's very hard to _say_ just what we learned, how we were

Ursula K. Leguin, Introduction of The Left Hand of Darknes
R. Reasons to smile? Cupcakes, Vegetables, Kittens, Silly Hairstyles & my friends.
S. Season of choice? Fall & Spring. After living in Florida my whole life, to witness the dying, and rebirth of the Earth is the most beautiful thing out there.

T. Tag 5 people: No can do, man. No one to tag! (Note to self... Make more friends with Blogs...)
U. Unknown fact about me? Unknown, but not surprising- I learned how to read early on in pre-school. And I haven't stopped since!
V. Vegetable? Almost all of them. What kind of vegetarian would I be if I disliked vegetables?
W. Worst habit? It's a tie- nagging and jumping to conclusions.
X. X-ray or Ultrasound? X-ray. They're less invasive.
Y. Your favorite food? Hrm. It really depends on the week. Pasta's pretty awesome, though.
Z. Zodiac sign? Sagittarius. Gotta love them fire signs.
Z. Which zoo animal is your favorite? Monkeys and Walruses.

Monday, July 21, 2008

They call it Charm City for a reason

This weekend B and I were visited by a few good friends from Florida. Since they had never been to Baltimore before (!!) we had to show them everything we liked! Or, try some things we've been meaning to try.

After picking them up from the Travel Plaza (what a great first stop in B'more, btw...) we took them to the Annabel Lee Tavern, in Canton.

The food was absolutely incredible! With three vegetarians at the table, it was a treat to get to try most of what was ordered. There was bruschetta , which had mozzarella melted on the top; a portabello, spinach and mozzarella burrito (which was so yummy, B didn't let me try any of!); and a grilled veggie panini with hummus. The only meat eater at the table got the barbecue sandwich (and he loved that!), with sweet potato fries. These might have been the best sweet potato fries I've ever had. They were sweet, but they also had a nice kick to them (most likely the cajun spices...). And then, there was the beer. I had the Resurrection Beer- a locally brewed Baltimore beer... It's definitely in my top 5. It went down easy, tasted great and came in a pint glass with Edgar Allen Poe's face on it. Could I have asked for more?

After a good night's sleep, we all trekked back downtown to Federal Hill Park. I believe I've already gone on (ad nauseum) about my love of this park. So what better place to take someone who hasn't seen Baltimore?

After the park (and some lovely 100 degree weather), we decided to go to the pie shop! Dangerously Delicious Pies is on my "must see" list in Baltimore. It's right on Light Street in Federal Hill (not even 1 block from Cross Street Market!). Easy to find, great pie- what more could a person want?!

Sunday evening we all went to see The Dark Knight (second time around for all of us) at the Senator Theater.

It was a lovely way to end a really great visit. We got to watch a movie that we all geeked out about, in a historic theater, with some good friends (and great pie. Yes, we snuck our pie in. And it was totally worth it!)

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Dream Come True!

Well... I created Cori's Cupcakery. Which doesn't sound like much- and it isn't. But I also have completed my first transaction.

A woman in my office bought 1 dozen strawberry cupcakes from me. She received them this morning. Apparently, I run a pretty efficient business (which is easy to do with 1 customer and 1 order).

She also grabbed a bunch of fliers from me, to hand out to people. I'm pretty excited.

I never made strawberry cupcakes before, and it was quite the interesting experience. Granted, I find everything with baking an interesting experience. That's why I do it so much!

I'm also debating culinary school, with a specialty in baking and pastry. Then, maybe I can get a job at Charm City Cakes, and work with Duff Goldman!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All Mixed Up

Todays topic is a very important one to me. It's near and dear to my heart, and it's in my life almost constantly.


Now, I know that you probably think that cupcakes aren't even worth another look. But I'm here to say that's bull. Cupcakes are amazing. It's easier to decorated a cake. You get more out of a batch. Cupcakes can be made as fancy or plain as you want. They can be kid food, adult food, wedding food, or everyday food. Use a little less sugar, and you have muffins. Anything that is a cake can be made into a cupcake.

My love affair with cupcakes began when I picked up this book:

500 Cupcakes: The only cupcake compendium you'll ever need by Fergal Connolly. And this book is amazing. I've baked quite a few out of here, and I don't show any signs of letting up any time soon. B goes through phases on his favorites. When I first made the Pineapple Upside Down cupcakes, he loved them. Then came Cheesecake cupcakes, and he was in love. It seems like this book can do no wrong, and I'm okay with that.

I think that my favorite part about this books is that it's not just about cupcakes. There are a ton of muffin recipes, from the savory to the sweet. The most intriguing chapter is the one about cupcakes for special diets. Whether you're vegan, lactose intolerant, or can't process wheat, there are at least 2 recipes in this section that accommodate you. When I made some Gluten-Free Golden Raisin and Almond muffins for my boss, who can't eat gluten, she was floored. She said something to the extent of "These muffins are actually like muffins. Out of all of the gluten-free things I've tried over the years, this is the first thing to have taste and texture like it's supposed to."

Of course, there are many more recipes that I've labeled "want to make" instead of "already made." This week I'm going to be experimenting with a Key Lime cupcake (that has the key lime custard inside and meringue on top). After that, who knows? I still want to make some rosewater cupcakes, carnation cupcakes, caramel cupcakes, chocolate ice cream cupcakes... There's just too many! I've had to invest in a few cupcake carriers, so that way I can transport my confections without squashing them. I'm planning on getting some silicon cupcake pans, so that way I don't have to deal with rust.

Out of all of the cupcakes I've made so far, my new favorite (and yes, this also changes with every batch I make) is a lemon poppyseed cupcake, with a poppyseed drizzle. They were incredible. Before that I was in love with chai cupcakes. And a plain vanilla cupcake is very refreshing.

If I ever decide to own my own business, it will probably be a bakery that specializes in cupcakes, called The Cupcakery. I think it would be adorable.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My Trip to the Big City

B and I went to NYC this weekend to visit some friends. It was pretty much awesome.

We took the Chinatown bus from Baltimore to New York. I hadn't realized it before, but the subject of the Chinatown bus is extremely polarizing. You either love it or hate it. I've never met anyone whose indifferent on the subject. I know people who are scared of buses (I tried to find out if there was a specific phobia for buses, but all I could come up with was
Hodophobia- Fear of road travel). I know people who are "too good" for the bus. Or who have a whole lot of money to burn (I wish that was my problem... but that's a rant for another day).

So they drive. Now, I don't mind driving. In fact, I love the act of driving. But to drive from Baltimore to New York City, it's just a pain. There's the gas- the ridiculously expensive gas. And when your trapped on the New Jersey Turnpike, they can just about charge you whatever they want. But wait- why are you trapped on the Jersey Turnpike? Because of tolls. You don't want to have to pay to get off and onto a turnpike. Then there are the tunnel/ bridge tolls to get into the city. If you're driving directly into Brooklyn, your especially effed, because of the Staten Island toll. $10?! That's just obscene.

Those who decide not to drive can take the train. Oh, Amtrak, why are you so expensive? A one way ticket from Penn Station Baltimore to Penn Station New York City can run anywhere between $120 to $130. And yes- I said one way. So two round trip tickets run over $300. I'd personally rather spend my money in New York, not getting there.

So we took the Chinatown bus. It's $15 each way. Granted, it's not the most comfortable way to travel, but if I wanted comfort, I'd take the train. It's fast, easy, cheap- and that's all I'm looking for.

I think that the idea of bus vs. train can be summed up in a pretty fun little story. A friend of mine has two sisters. One lives in New York, the other lives here in Baltimore. My friend was going to visit her sister in NY, and found out that her other sister was planning on going up at the same time, for the same reasons. She told her sister that they can take the bus together, and it would be great for the two of them, since no one would have to travel alone. The response she got was, "I don't take the bus." So her sister took the train, and my friend took the bus. They left at the same exact time. They got there at the same exact time. Yet one spent $15, and the other $120.

Just as a little side note, I was messing around on and found some pretty fun phobias (not fun to have... just the words are fun):

Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia- Fear of long words.
Hellenologophobia- Fear of Greek terms or complex scientific terminology.
Homophobia- Fear of sameness, monotony or of homosexuality or of becoming homosexual. (I didn't know that this also meant fear of sameness... I suppose I could be considered homophobic in that sense?)
And those are just the H's!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why do anything half-assed?

The signs were there when I was a kid. I wanted to be an actor when I grew up. I had multiple video game systems (and beat quite a few of the games that I owned). I read- all of the time. I liked fantasy movies. I listened to classic rock. There was no denying it.

I'm a dork. 100%.

As an "adult" I read comics (print and web). I love Joss Whedon. I watch Doctor Who (well... watch is a loose term. Closer to obsessed with). I read Douglas Adams and Philip Pullman. There's Battlestar Galactica. And then the video games. Guitar Hero, anything Mario related (on any platform), and yes, even WOW. You can throw me almost any line from Scrubs, How I Met Your Mother, or Torchwood- and I will (most likely) respond with the next line.

I gladly go to conventions to meet the lesser faces of Harry Potter (and I have the pictures to prove it!). Heck, I've even did a shadowcast performance of "Once More With Feeling" and a Buffy convention. We're not even going to count that year in college I was part of a shadowcast troupe for Rocky Horror Picture Show.

And the great thing? I love it. No need to be ashamed. No need to feel guilty, or attempt to fit into the crowd.

If todays me, and the me from when I was 16 talked, I'm sure it would be an interesting conversation. Back then it was all about fitting in (not just for me- but for everyone in high school). Not necessarily fitting into the "in" crowd... but just fitting in somewhere. And if that meant hiding my Rocky Horror collectibles when a friend came over (it was a long obsession... don't ask me why), then so be it. Or only feeling like I could quote Buffy the Vampire Slayer to to those I trusted with my life... well that was the way it would be.

I like things now. I like that I'm not scared of showing someone who I am... because if they don't like me, it doesn't matter. There's always someone out there who will be my friend because of the very reasons others won't.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Fast Food Nation

I just finished watching the movie Fast Food Nation. I've never read the book, and I'm sure the experience of both is very different. But I have to say that I was greatly disturbed by the movie.

I know- it was supposed to unsettle me. To make me think about the way I'm spending my money when I go into McDonald's, and order a Super Duper Value McGiagantor Buger, with Awesome Huge McFries and a Kiddie Pool size McShake. And if I went into those establishments and ordered those (approximate) things, it would make me think.

But being a Vegetarian (for a good chunk of time), I don't go into these establishments, mostly because they don't cater to me. The only thing I can eat at most of those places are the fries and beverages. So I try not to frequent them. Because, while a dinner of fries and a chocolate shake sounds appealing to the taste buds, it sounds like hell to the stomach.

But I'm off topic.

The movie was... well, it was first and foremost unsettling. It seemed like a regular Hollywood film, and a P.E.T.A. video smashed together. The Hollywood parts were moving- the story of illegal immigrants forced to work in a meat packing plant, the high school girl who is working at her McJob until she can go to college, and the V.P. of McMarketing who has no clue how things really are done in the company.

The P.E.T.A part? Well... let's just say I could never get through that P.E.T.A. video in Philosophy class in undergrad... and after 4 years, nothing was different. The few bits I was able to see through my fingers (yes, I covered my eyes with my hands and hoped it would be over soon) are giving me the heebie jeebies still. There's something haunting (not the beautiful music kind, but the bloody headed Civil War General is following me everywhere, and he's not see through) about seeing a cow with no legs. Because they've been chopped off. No, really.

I might even stay away from soy-meat for a while...

Friday, July 4, 2008

Federal Hill

We went to Federal Hill last night. It might be my favorite part of this city so far. Granted, I've haven't been too many place in Baltimore. We've gone to the Inner Harbor, Mt. Vernon, Hampden, and Fells Point. I've drive through some pretty scary areas, and some some ritzy ones. But Federal Hill is the place I have my heart set on- pretty much because of the Park.

Oh man. Federal Hill Park is so great. The view of the Harbor is beautiful, and the park itself is gorgeous. You can see Raven's Stadium, The Aquarium, the best Barnes & Noble I've ever been to, and the Domino Sugar Plant.

Our foray into Fed Hill was Flicks on the Hill. During the summer, the American Visionary Art Museum shows movies on the side of one of its buildings. Last night the showed
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? which was enough to draw us out of our house for the evening.

Dinner was at The Stalking Horse, a place where I had eaten once before with a good friend. They have some pretty intense baked potatoes, and last night we shared quesadillas- which were really yummy. Spinach, tomato, and mushroom with some awesome dipping sauce. To go along with these quesadillas, I had a lovely pint of Sam Adams Summer Ale, while B enjoyed Clipper City Pale Ale.

Onto the movie! Everyone brought out blankets and lawn chairs, and it was a really great atmosphere. The movie was great (as I knew it would be), but there's always something added by watching a movie with a group of strangers. I'm sure that everyone has encountered this- you go to a movie you want to see on a night where it's particularly crowded. Everyone laughs at the right spots, groans at the right times, and for certain movies you can hear someone sniffling during a sad scene (that's usually me). Last night was no different. People clapped and sang- some even danced.

It was one of those nights that confirms in my mind, my choice to move to Baltimore.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

This is the begining.

"So it goes"

I'm not sure why the beginning of my career as a blogger needs to begin with a Kurt Vonnegut quote. Especially that quote. The most used quote. The one that everyone who was ever forced to read Slaughterhouse 5 (or picked it up for enjoyment) will always associate with the late Mr. Vonnegut. I'm sure I can find a better one.

Let's go with my favorite mantra from the Vonnegut book I just finished:
"You were sick, but now you're well again, and there's work to do."

I think that might feel more appropriate.

I suppose I don't have a specific goal for this blog. It's not about cooking, my love of cats, or how I'm beginning a grand adventure. I've already started this adventure- way back in August. This is just another continuation of my adventure, and a way to keep better track of it.

The adventure, you ask? Well, it all began when I graduated with a B.A. in English and moved to Charm City itself- Baltimore. Exploring a new city is always an adventure, and I've never felt more up to it in my life.