Tuesday, June 26, 2007


I read a story in The Boston Globe this morning about bald eagles having been brought back from extinction. It makes me think of the theory of survival of the fittest and the role human beings play as interventionists.

I often wonder if the work our species does to decimate the earth is part of our own survival pattern and shouldn't be worried about. Or, alternately, if the actions of homo sapiens should be worried about and active interventions sought. The work to restore bald eagles so they are plentiful enough on this planet to be no longer considered endangered (an arbitrary designation made up by people) fills my heart with gladness, and I worry a little about playing god. Is there a plan for people, or bald eagles, or pepper grass for that matter? And, if there is, are we messing around with it - or is this it? And, if there isn't a plan, why don't we just descend into the bacchanal that is life and enjoy?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Salad days

I've had it with creative interpretations of Caesar Salad. When I go out to eat and order a Caesar Salad, I'm seeking the classic romaine lettuce with croutons, Parmesan and Caesar dressing. Sometimes I ask for anchovies.

That's it. Fin. Period. The end.

No red onion. No cucumbers. No bacon bits. And certainly no tomatoes, deadly nightshades that they are.

There are some sectors of our society who are anti-globalization, people who believe one shouldn't be able to get McDonald's while in India or Starbucks in Tokyo. But, there are times when one seeks something familiar, something known, something comforting to the body or the mind. For example, when I order chocolate ice cream, I'm expecting something that vaguely resembles chocolate ice cream. Not chocolate ice cream with tomatoes in it. The same is true for a Caesar Salad. I want what I expect to receive when I order something with a fairly straightforward recipe.

I know the legend of the Caesar Salad is that it was born out of necessity in a restaurant kitchen at a time when a salad emergency was called for. But, if a restaurant is going to experiment then they should name the salad something else simply to give their customers a heads up that they don't serve the now classic Caesar. A Caesar with tomatoes? How about calling it a "Red Caesar?" A Caesar with carrots and red onions and bacon bits? Let's call it "Caesar Nouveau" or "Veggie Caesar." Please just warn me somehow, so I can adjust accordingly.

Let me also say, for the record, that the best Caesar Salad I ever had was at Skipjack's in downtown Boston more than 12 years ago. Seriously. I've never forgotten it.

The worst? At Triple Play Cafe in Cooperstown, NY. If you ever have a chicken Caesar craving while visiting the baseball hall of fame stay far far away from this hole in the wall restaurant almost directly across from the entrance to the museum. And, if you have a favorite place where you can get a Caesar Salad, please let me know about it!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Restaurant idea

Nosey's PeekEasy. It is a concept bar/restaurant with seating in two parallel rows. One side of the restaurant has a a one-way mirror running the length of the dining room. This will allow diners on one side to watch the diners on the OTHER side without fear of being noticed. When someone calls for a reservation, they will be asked, "Which side would you prefer your table be on? Voyeur or Exhibitionist?"

Dead kitty

The kitty who lived with me at 216 Brookline until I moved to the hippie-dippie Somerville co-op died this week. He was an old cat with gnarly fur. He was Italian and his name was Grizwaldi Schacht-Lambiaso. (Grizz for short.)

He was first "owned" by an Australian couple, then a woman with a dog (1 year), then my friend Dan and me (3 years), and then just me (1 year).

His most recent facilitator in this world was my friend Barb, who ardently fought for Grizz's affections with her now husband (Eric) when Grizz and I lived in Cambridge.

Barb is sad, and her husband and two children are nonchalant.

C'est la vie.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

City Slickers rocks!

So does my friend Heather. Heather called at 1:00 today and said, "Hey! I'm in Somerville and I want a milkshake. Can you get away from the office and meet me?" I'm stressed to the gills, and promised myself today that I wouldn't let my work get the best of me today. So, even though I didn't FEEL like I had the time, I said yes.

And we met at City Slickers. This is a new restaurant that opened at 558 Somerville Avenue. And their food is AMAZING and the owner is kind.

Heather and I walked in and noticed immediately they had ice cream. So, Heather asked if she could get a milkshake. ("She's having a pregnancy craving," I mentioned parenthetically.) The counter staff - who is also the owner - said no. He didn't even have milk he could sell Heather to mix up with her ice cream. Disappointed, we each settle for a slice of pizza. (Heather paid.)

As we are seated, chatting, the owner brings us each a scoop of extra creamy vanilla ice cream. With his apologies. For not having milkshakes. City Slickers rocks!

I went back later in the day and picked up dinner: garlic steak tips with wilted spinach. It was delicious. So, City Slickers does not have milkshakes, but they have great pizza and delicious and convenient comfort food.

And, Heather is fantastic for being there at the right moment, to pull me out of my work-related funk-a-liciou-ness. Thanks Heather.

Up all night

One of the ways I cope with stress is by singing to myself. It is a self-soothing mechanism. As I type the title to this post, the first in nearly three weeks, I find myself singing the Boomtown Rats song by the same title. As I start this, it is 1:54 AM and I've tried going to sleep once already tonight. I am too keyed up to sleep, unable to quiet what practitioners of Buddhist mediation call the "monkey mind."
  • "Will I be able to pull off staff orientation for my summer interns next Tuesday?"
  • "Will I be able to get the Mayor and the Police Chief to sign off on the Memorandum of Understanding to accompany the $6 million proposal I'm coordinating?"
  • "How am I going to explain that I didn't use the poster presentation the admin team in my office prepared for two days because I am not going to that conference tomorrow morning?"
  • "When will I make it to the bank to get cash for the week?"
  • "Will I remember to make an appointment to get my eyes checked, teeth cleaned, and hair done before I leave for Paris?"
  • "How am I going to get everything done that needs to be done at work before I leave for Paris?"
It has been more than a month of non-stop stress and pressure in the workplace. I used to laugh. Now, I am pining for quiet in my work life. I crave long stretches of time to ride my bike. I crave time to cook and eat healthfully. I crave the space to take care of the package that is my body, and the soul this body encases. I don't know how to do this and manage the pressure I feel - and experience - in my job. I keep reminding myself that this is temporary, that the pressure will let up after next Friday, but I feel myself starting to crack.

I don't like this feeling, this ride down the slippery slope.

To be certain, I am privileged. I am worrying about going to Paris. I am not worrying about putting food on the table. But, worry is worry. As I count my blessings and try to stay grounded in what I know is right and good (listening, being honest, loving, kind and strong) there is a brief pause in the stress. And then it overtakes me again. This is what feels so difficult, as the stress is so much more powerful than the blessings.

When life calms down, the goal will be to find strategies for developing power in the blessings, so they can keep the stress in check. Maybe now I can get some sleep?