Mongrel

Once in a long while, you come across an artistic talent of such immense proportion that to shelter it from the world’s view would be criminal. Such beauty lurks in corners of the earth where it might never be suspected…like Trader Joe’s.

Yeah, he draws SpongeBob freehand. When you least expect it. And he’s rakish.

He also owes me an email with all his newest music, since I burned it all eagerly while we were home…and then left my precious cd in the Battered Beater (aka M’s car). Come on, Mongrel, I didn’t push you around on my knees in your baby carrier all those times* just to be musically bereft. Help a (biological) sister out.

*This is one of approximately 10 (maybe 12?) stories about our collective childhoods that our parents (and sometimes grandmother) like to tell…let’s say “kind of frequently,” to be extremely generous. A smattering of the collection:

6. The above-mentioned baby-pushing, which occurred an old house with a circular floor pattern, and me, on my knees, pushing Mongrelito in his baby-carrier for endless laps around the house, singing to him so that he would go to sleep.

5. The time I got tired of doing the above, and left him in said carrier at the bottom of the stairs, swaddled and with a bonnet on his head, and a Victorian-orphanage inspired note, reading “This is my baby, and I cannot care for him any longer. He is a good baby, please take care of him as if he were your own. God Bless you.”

4. The time we were walking around Venice Beach when he had barely learned to read, and he looked up confusedly at a group of monks protesting China’s presence in their country, and asked them, “Free To Bet on what??”

3. The time my grandparents were taking me to the movies at our local mall (unfamiliar to them), and they stopped to ask for directions from a saleslady, and I indignantly yelled, “I could’ve tooken you there!!” (Unfathomably, this has the highest number of family dinner rehashings.)

2. The time my dad decided baby Mongrel’s desire to participate in all my girl-centered play-dates would negatively affect his burgeoning masculinity and went upstairs to separate him from my Barbies, only to find him gleefully bashing their heads together.

1. The time our grandmother, when asked by Mongrel (in a clearly joking manner) which one of us she thought was better looking, seriously considered the question, and then answered him, “Your sister, definitely. But that’s alright, because you have the music to fall back on!” And then we died.

Delta Spirit and Dark Chocolate

A blogger with whom I’m basically in love (Heather Armstrong, from Dooce) posted this video earlier today. I feel like the blogger-shared-music that most often shows up in my Google reader is a little too…how you say…Bon Iver for my taste. But these guys are legen (wait for it. I hope you’re not lactose-intolerant cause the next part is) dary. Seriously. I just pranced around my kitchen making cookies to the beat of their drums, and then sent my brother several MP3-laden emails and text messages. What? I never am the one to find cool new music! There’s a duty to milk it here.

And since you were wondering, the cookies are kind of awesome. They might be too chocolatey, if such a thing is possible. (It’s not. Come on, now). I got the recipe from my beloved Health-Bent, but shopping for the ingredients was a little harder than it should’ve been…you try balancing cocoa powder, chocolate chips and coconut flakes in one hand while the other is holding a phone through which Smash is yelling, “Shot in the FACE” over and over again.* If you foresee a laughing stomach cramp in your shopping future, just get a basket. Don’t be a hero.

Sprinkle sea salt on the tops of the cookies before you stick them in the oven. And then lick the spoon while you wait in agony for them to be done.

*This post may need to be removed if you marry him. Or, you know, sooner.

Well Qualified to Represent

One of my favorite parts of returning home is reveling in the LBC, my adopted hometown. I’ve been a devotee of sun worshipping on 2nd street for years now. I mean, Taco Surf.

I don't always eat dollar tacos, but when I do...actually, I eat them at every possible opportunity.

But now the city is running a full-court press of awesomeness. Please observe:

One of my new favorite people lives here (well, two new favorites, if you count her stellar boyfriend, as I most certainly do). I kind of can’t believe my luck at meeting someone this cool at a summer law firm gig…I was just hoping the “cool people” vibe would translate into partners who were more mellow than most. Turns out you can find someone to carpool and groan through Cardio Barre with too! Sometimes you just win at life.

Aside from her general coolness, Ms. D is a font of wisdom on all things Long Beach, and she found this fantastic NY Times article highlighting the city as an up-and-coming fun place to vacation. So, of course we spent the second half of spring break prowling around neighborhoods we’d never even thought to visit until a newspaper across the country recommended them. Apparently Fourth Street is where it’s at. In an extremely major way.

Among the standouts:

Kafe Neo: A total win of a breakfast place with the temerity to serve adorably tiny cookies with their free espresso drinks. There’s so much excellence going on in that sentence, I don’t even know where to start. Our beloved Baller realized you can “check in” on Yelp and get treats in various places, and this was the delicious result:

Baller’s omelette had Greek marinara sauce, our waitress wore retro cat’s eye glasses, and the yoga hippies at the next table had a snuggly little puppy. Now you understand.

Berlin: I forgot to take any pictures, but this cool little coffee shop is attached to both a second-hand bookstore and a music shop that still sells vinyl. It was also the site of my purchase of Three Cups of Tea, so now I have to love it forever. Not the heaviest burden.

Portfolio: Great coffee and hipster heaven. And therefore my heaven, because people-watching is my favorite sport. We were taking Baller to the airport, so we couldn’t lounge around in all the plush couches and chairs for too long, but the chill vibe was immediately apparent. I was all busy planning how it would be my new study lounge when we came back, until M reminded me that when we next touch down in California, studying will be…over. I was trying to wrap my mind around the cosmic truth of no.more.school. that will soon be mine, but then I realized that firm work will indubitably provide plenty of law-related paperwork for me to take wherever I please. I’m choosing to believe that this is a victory, as it means my days of being pseudo-studious in coffee shops are alive and well.

Apparently there are all sorts of vintage clothing and furniture consignment shops along Fourth as well, so we’ll have to check those out when we come back after finals. Totally loving that this whole alternative world existed five minutes away from our well-trodden path…you just never know!

Les Bebes

One loves card-hiding.

The other is currently more of a card-eating personality.

I'm looking at you, Mr. T!

Together, they are the worst birth control on the planet. Especially with pictures like these:

Will you please just stop that right now.

The parents of these lovely humans have hinted that they might want a few more. Pretty sure all signs (including the fact that I had to give up the second half of “Go, Dog, Go!” to LK because there weren’t enough babies to go around) point to “Uh, yes. Yesterday.”

We miss you guys (and Johanssen)!

Back In The Land of the Living

The end of the two-week spring break has finally arrived, and I’m back on my couch in Boston, trying to convince my internal clock that this east-coast digital display blinking 2 a.m. is for real. It was an interesting “break”… we saw a lot of people I missed ferociously, did practically no schoolwork, got a little stressed, and decided again that California is where it’s at, while eating tacos in the sun.

Then I spent the entire plane ride today reading this book:

It’s completely re-charged my battery in a way that no break could have.* Stories of other people pushing past the silly boundaries of ordinary American life and creating change in ways no one had ever been imaginative enough to propose before…they just shake up my core and make me feel like these ideas I have are worth pursuing. Check it out if you want to inject some fist-pumping inspiration back into your everyday life.

*Oh, and I bought it for three dollars at a used bookstore in Long Beach. Correct, THREE. And the bookstore was attached to a coffee shop where I procured a coffee drink containing hemp milk. And a music shop that sold vinyl. That should all just speak for itself.

Crunch Time

I’m a big fan of the way we eat; avoiding grains and sugar make me feel lighter, more energetic, yadda yadda. The only problem with paleo is that it requires advance planning…which happens to be my kryptonite.

For your example pleasure: There is almost no food in the house, but the refrigerator contains four different types of cheese. Clearly every household needs feta, goat, cheddar and parmesan in order to make it to tomorrow. Right? Apparently I am always throwing cocktail parties in my head when I visit the grocery store, since we always run out of cucumbers and tomatoes before specialty mustards and garlic-stuffed olives. I probably need one of those boot-camp coaches to run me through Trader Joe’s with blinders on, yelling “Keep your head in the game!” when I wander off toward the proscuitto for the fourth time. I mean, honestly.

So, the “I am starving but I need to sit here and do my homework and I feel that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are the devil’s work” meal needs to be a little bit creative sometimes.

Instant Emergency Meal: Frozen Shrimp, pesto, olives and parmesan. Someone had to eat this cheese. Public service, people. I am always here for you.