Monday, August 24, 2009

Julie and Julia and Melissa

Perhaps I've become a softie, but the movie Julie and Julia moved me to tears. Happily, I also experienced lots of laugh - some explosive ha's, a stream of giggles and more than one laugh-to-tears moment. Not only is this wonderful story about food - my new favorite subject - it is a story, two actually, about accomplishing your goals, realizing your dreams, finishing what you've started. 

The Julia part of the story, of course, deals with Julia Child as she and her husband move to Paris and Julia looks for 'something to do'. She is a foodie from the start and only when she enrolls in the Cordon Bleu does her passion get ignited.

Julie's passion for writing has been snuffed out by her government job, dealing with the aftermath of Sept. 11. It's hinted that she was a writer at Amherst and the one who was going to 'make something of her life'. When her friend starts a blog about her dating life, Julie thinks she might want to start a blog, too, and eventually decides to blog about cooking recipes from Julia Child's cookbook.

For both women, being published is their dangling carrot. Julia has a long and frustrating experience trying to get her recipes published, and although Julie is self-published via her blog, she constantly wonders if anyone's reading, who cares, etc. She wants something bigger, though what she's not sure.

The movie follows their struggles and their victories, both large and small - one in the 1940's, another in 2002. It's the same story, the need to connect on a grander scale.

Food is love, and makes me think of all the gourmet meals my mom made when I was a kid, and the meals Jen and Basil seemingly effortlessly whip up every time I'm there. During the movie I thought of all my foodie friends, like Lisa H. who's egg and pasta dish is now one of my staples, and Liz and Chris who often host fine dining experiences in their own home. 

Food is love, but writing is life, and I am reminded of this every time I head back into this second novel that is  causing me such angst. I question the very things Julie questioned, from 'who cares?' to 'nobody's going to die if you don't finish'. And I can so relate to Julia when, after getting rejected from another publisher, she says simply, sadly,  "Eight years of my life." Both women get their happy ending and this goes along with my theory that the only difference between people who live their dreams vs. people who don't is PERSEVERANCE.

And so, dear readers (if anyone's reading) I must go finish my novel, because if Julie and Julia can do it, so can I.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This List is Life...

You know those Facebook quizzes? I usually ignore them ("What crayon color are you?") but one circulated recently that I just had to partake in. It wasn't a quiz, it was "Name 50 concerts you've been to". Seeing as I've gone to a handful this summer, I thought I'd conjure up a list. The 50 I came up with doesn't even cover half of it. Later, I remembered The Clash, REM, Black Eyed Peas, 10,000 Maniacs, World Party, Sarah McLaughlin, The Waterboys, Depeshe Mode, Beastie Boys, and on and on and on.

I've always been into music, especially live music, and try to go to as many shows as possible and that my bank account will allow. As my old college roommate Jodi wrote after the Facebook list, "This life, and yours is very rich." To which I emphatically agree. 

1. Grace Jones
2. Big Audio Dynamite
3. The Police
4. Paul Simon
5. Lyle Lovett
6. The Cure
7. X
8. Barry Manilow
9. Rod Stewart
10. Prince
11. Simon and Garfunkel
12. Ozomatli
13. Macy Gray
14. Ella Fitzgerald
15. Frank Sinatra
17. Sarah Vaughn
18. Tracy Chapman
19. Jane Siberry
20. Diana Krall
21. David Byrne
22. The Flaming Lips
23. Beck
24. Paul Weller
25. Alanis Morisette
26. Bonnie Raitt
27. Jackson Brown
28. Sidestepper
29. Lucinda Williams
30. Jonathan Richmond
31. Dave Frishberg
32. Indigo Girls
33. The Kinks
34. Madness
35. Peter Gabriel
36. The Four Tops
37. Joni Mitchell
38. Joe Jackson
39. Ben Harper
40. Ani DiFranco
41. Heart
43. The Who
44. Los Lobos
45. Arrested Development
46. Michelle Shocked
47. Hugh Masakela
48. Black Eyed Peas
49. Brazillian Girls
50. Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Summer Yum

This summer, I have basically alternated between eating two meals - an amazing corn salad that my friend Jen whipped up when she was visiting and a delicious asparagus/green onion/tofu melange that I got from one of my favorite food blogs. I have enjoyed both so much and so frequently that I'd like to share them with you.

Being a braceface for 7 years, I never warmed to corn. But this summer, I have discovered it in its raw deliciousness. This salad is so refreshing and healthy that you just can't help but feel good about it:

scrape the corn (white is my fav) from two ears of corn into a bowl
1/4 chopped red onion
1 chopped cucumber
2 chopped tomatoes
1 chopped red or green pepper
balsamic vinegar
olive oil

Mix well. Enjoy

My other fav. is:

boil udon or soba or any of that genre of noodle in water.

trim, and cut about 5 or 6 asparagus at a sideways angle
same with 2 or 3 green onions
cube tofu (I usually cube about 1/4 of a block when I'm just cooking for myself)
in a separate pan heat olive oil, throw in some red pepper flakes, and add the tofu until it browns on both sides. (season with salt and pepper)
green onions
chopped garlic (1 or 2 cloves)
chopped or grated ginger to taste
add noodles and mix well
I like to pour in a few tablespoons of Somen Noodle and Soup Base, but you can use soy sauce or any other sauce you might like
to top it off, add chopped basil - I like a lot. And if you like (which I do) toasted almonds pieces and sesame seeds

This meal makes me very happy, which is why I probably eat it 3x a week.

And there you have it, a food blog from Connections Clark.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Yoga is my Cristal

Yesterday I completed the umpteenth draft of my new novel and turned it in to my writer friend Margaret for notes. I posted an update on Facebook announcing I'd be biking to beach yoga that night to celebrate. A friend from high school wrote back, "I'd figure a bottle of Cristal would be more appropriate." He was probably right - I could have used a bottle, or even a glass, to calm my frayed nerves. When I arrived at the restaurant to meet Margaret earlier that day, manuscript in hand, she said, "How are you feeling? Unfettered?" I was amazed that she pinpointed the emotion in a matter of seconds, but then as a fellow novelist, she should know. That night, I hopped on my bike and followed the path to Rose, where I locked it to a fence and joined some other friends near the water for a gentle yoga practice. We breathed with the tide, did Downward Dog on the incline and saluted the setting sun. Later we listened to musicians serenade us as we all joined in for the chorus of the various songs. At around 9pm we said our goodbyes and I got back on my bike feeling more centered and less unfettered, as the wind gently nudged me home under the light of a full and perfect moon. It was an appropriate celebration of an almost 4-year endeavor, and the best part was no hangover in the morning.