Tuesday, September 23, 2008

AdAge Mention!

My lovely intern mentioned me in the blog she's contributing to for AdAge, "Gen>Next."

I am the "junior-level boss." Who would have thought I would ever be referred to as boss? Seriously, working with her was an absolute pleasure. I love teaching, especially when the person is my peer. I would describe things to her and realize how much I knew (or didn't know). I have a fairly verbal thought process (which annoyed my last boss to no end), but with an intern all that chatter and ruminating was helpful, instructive.

Also, went to my first screening today. It was in the Sony Screening room in Midtown East. I was late and managed to arrive just as the Sony Pictures Classics logo flashed on the screen. Score!

I want to talk about it later, but, rest assured, Waltz with Bashir was a perfect film to initiate me into the world of press screenings. I got a little teary-eyed at the end...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Thoughts about Bipolar disorder, Addiction, and Tucker Max

The NYTimes Sunday Magazine article covers the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children.

Much of it is terrible and awful: kids breaking down in Walmart, holding weapons over parents and siblings asleep in bed, banging into walls and hurting themselves in bouts of mania. I feel sick thinking of a person's lack of control over mood and behavior. I have seen this type of behavior before, not necessarily from someone that was bipolar, and watching a "self" perform in ways contrary to its personality and dignity is miserable and frightening.

At the same time, I find the personality of people with bipolar disorder or bipolar tendencies (those N.O.S. or "not otherwise specified" folks) absolutely compelling. These are people who violate social boundaries with confidence, unaware that they are crossing lines. Their uninhibited behavior would take other people mountains of alcohol and drugs to achieve. I love being the sidekick while a friend makes someone else totally uncomfortable with their audacity and boundary-pushing. Then there's the oversharing. With lives more dramatic than a soap opera, their lack of inhibition gives them a roster of compelling, play-by-play stories: willing to do anything, willing to tell anything.

Obviously I am making generalizations, I am one-sided, and reporting only on mania, but I truly feel that bipolar disorder actually benefits society at a whole: it concentrates feelings and creativity and makes others questions the norms they so willingly follow. Van Gogh always gets cited as bipolar, but what about Mary Kay LeTourneau? Not only has her life inspired Lifetime movies, she's also, seriously, become a lightning rod in the debate over age differences in relationships. I also suspect that people like "Slut Machine" over at Jezebel have bipolar tendencies, particularly when she wrote about a crazy April several years ago in which she went out every single night, slept with twenty men, and never missed a day of work. Purely gleaning from the writing (isn't that what the historians did with Van Gogh?) this type of behavior deviates from normal. Similarly, I am convinced that Tucker Max is bipolar. He's narcissistic slash overconfident, oversteps boundaries without realizing they have been crossed, cannot exercise restraint in sex or alcohol, overshares, is terribly mean towards women...the list goes on. While I find his life compelling, it is in a train wreck kind of way--I would not want to be anywhere near it, feel powerless to stop it, but nevertheless am swept up in watching such an extreme malfunction with catastrophic consequences. ARGH, he really riles me up. His behavior is just beyond offensive.

When you are dealing with psychiatric problems, how do you tell what is personality and what is a 'disorder'? I guess what I am really asking is that biology/environment question: to what extent are these disorders caused by hormonal imbalances in the brain, to what extent is it the result of environmental factors, and to what extent are these people culpable and responsibly for the poor choices they make? These are difficult questions, and I know the die-hard left position on this issue would omit the third one altogether. In defense of my inclusion of personal choice, I cite an essay I read recently in the NYTimes:

"Imagine two people trying cocaine, just to see what it is like. Both are 32-year-old men with jobs and families. One snorts a line, loves it and asks for more. The other also loves it but pushes it away, leaves the party and never touches it again. Different values? Different tolerance for risk? Many factors may distinguish the two cocaine lovers, but only one is at risk for a problem.

Asking for more drug is no guarantee of being seduced into routine use. But what if it happens? Jacob Sullum, a senior editor at Reason magazine, has interviewed many users who became aware that they were sliding down the path to addiction.

“It undermined their sense of themselves as individuals in control of their own destinies,” Mr. Sullum wrote in his 2003 book, “Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use.” “And so they stopped.”

Personally, I can totally identify with the bold statement, and think it is entirely true. I think one attribute this article leaves out, however, is that an individual's desire to gain or lose control is not only dictated by their genes, but also their situation. People who find themselves depressed or not caring enough about themselves to think that they are worth more than pursuit of transient, chemical-induced happiness could say "yes" in those situations where years before the same situation would have elicited a "no." Even week-to-week, it's considered within the realm of normal to medicate a rough week with a rough night of drinking/drugs. Then, at some point, the behavior crosses a line.

So a rather heady post for a Friday night, but I stayed in (no way I am taking a train to New Jersey to see a boy! I only do Manhattan :). I guess that might also mean "she's just not that into you")

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Whole-Grain Morning Glory Muffins

WhyOWhy did I have coffee at 6pm tonight, especially when I have been having sleeping problems!? I am so mad at myself--I was exhausted and just said fuck it, I am getting coffee, whatever the time. Now my body is all messed up and over the course of the evening I have eaten my way through a whole batch of hummus that I made yesterday (use lemon zest! so delicious!). I felt sick all day because I overate the Whole Grain Morning Glory Muffins I made. They were filling but maybe not high in some kind of nutrient I needed so I still felt hungry after eating them but also full. Know that feeling?

I used a recipe from WholeFood's website that I have been wanting to try forever. For sugar, I used 1/2 cup brown sugar + 5 splenda packets instead of 1/4 cup brown sugar + 1/2 cup white sugar. I would have substituted some applesauce for oil too, but my applesauce had green mold growing in it. The muffins were a bit on the greasy side, so I don't think they would have hurt to have a bit of oil removed. I think the next time I make them I will experiment with adding some bran or wheat germ. With all the fruits and veggies (...and nuts and coconuts) in these muffins there definitely is some nutrient potential. I still have half the batter in the fridge (I know myself too well to cook the whole thing at once, as evidenced by my overeating of the first part of the muffins) so I think I will add some more chopped carrots and a bit of bran to the batter and see how the second half tastes. The only other muffins I have made at this apartment in New York, the "real" bran muffins, have also benefited from this technique. In the second batch, I mix-up the add-ins, add more sugar/fat if necessary, another egg, etc., to see how the recipe responds. I am a little Jr. Alton Brown (if only). (Also, what the eff is with my parenthesis. I seriously cannot write without parentheses. I think it is because I am always simultaneously thinking an unrelated but tangentially relevant thought that I want to include but cannot sequence into my writing before or after what I am currently writing. I need to think about this. Thoughts about using parentheses in writing?)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Tofu Salad + Hummus Perfection + Effing Celebs

So today I got home from work after a long meander down West 4th, up through the Meatpacking and over to Western Beef, my place of choice for cheap produce (RIP Stiles Farmer Market, now too far for me to travel). There was one place in particular along West 4th where everyone was hanging out and drinking--methinks Happy Hour.

I had half a block of this amazing tofu from The Bridge left over from when I made Soba Noodle Salad earlier this week. The tofu is made in Middletown, CT, and used to be sold at weshop, so I am a bit nostalgic. I wish I knew where the factory or whatever was, I would have begged for a tour.

Anyway, I food processed a few cloves of garlic, 1/4 green bell pepper, 1/3 carrot together. Then I added 1 and 1/2tbsp of tahini, about, a packet of soy sauce (I reeeally need to buy some, thank god for leftover takeout packets), and sea salt, since I was so low on soy sauce. And a little pepper. It was amazingly delicious. I stuffed the whole thing into a toasted pita and voila dinner. Later on I find a missed text about a happy hour--Julia and Anna saw Natalie Portman at the Magician while I pureed tofu. Fabulous. I am forever receiving texts about celeb sightings (Lindsay Lohan once from Jess! who also saw Tina Fey at the ATM around the corner when I neglected to go with her, argh!) but I NEVER see celebrities. I think I walked past a few famous/up-and-coming models today and yesterday, since they are all out and about with Fashion Week. I only knew because they were wearing shorts and had legs not normally found in nature. Most of them are about as tall as me. Just, um, about fifty pounds thinner. For sers. Who have I seen? Bobby Flay. At his restaurant, so that only kinda-sorta counts. Another famous person being chased by paparazzi on Bleeker that I didn't recognize. I am lame...

So then I made hummus.

And now I will possibly go to sleep. I have been terribly exhausted this week, possibly after last week's shenanigans, so of course now I am paying the consequences. I also might kinda-sorta be avoiding this boy who wants to "meet up" later. He was so hairy! I had to vacuum my bed after he left. On that little Sex and the City tidbit, I am out.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chicken Quesadilla and Labor Day Wanderings

Chicken Quesadilla Salad

Prep and Mix together in large bowl:
One large can black beans (drained, rinsed)
One normal can pinto beans (drained, rinsed)
½ package frozen corn (defrosted – rinse under cool water)
Two tomatoes (chopped)
3-4 green onions (minced)
3+ cloves garlic (minced)
Handful of sunflower seeds (this makes the whole thing richer – avocado would work too)

Poach, then shred and marinate while still hot. When cool, incorporate into mix:
Two boneless skinless chicken breasts
Chipotles in adobo sauce (3+ chiles)

1 tbsp Cumin
Juice of two limes
½ bunch Cilantro
Sea salt
Few tablespoons Olive oil
Few tablespoonsRed wine vinegar
Shredded cheese (optional, again to lend richness)

Serve with corn tortillas (optional). Also, while delicious right away, it becomes even more amazing after marinating a few hours, or even an hour.

Pay-per-pound salad bars frequently serve as a source of inspiration for me. This particular salad comes from the Chicken Quesadilla Salad at Whole Foods Market. I make a similar salad to this already, but the other salad omits chicken and chipotles and uses a grain base of corn/black-eyed peas. I had this salad for dinner last night and lunch today, and I think I have another meal and a half left – and I seriously won’t be sick of it, it’s that amazing. For those of you who live within walking distance, come over and I will feed you!

Today I was ambling through Greenwich Village (Commerce St! Barrow St! – these streets are so incredibly old and quiet, just three-story red brick and trees. I can’t think of any comparison but a picture of colonial Williamsburg comes to mind). It occurred to me that this year I can go to the Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. AND Halloween is a Friday. I am incredibly psyched. I once saw a MTV Diaries where Julia Stiles walked in the parade and it seemed SO cool. Because I am a reality television addict and only know of things from watching celebrities experience them, I occasionally try to follow up and derive pleasure from doing these things myself.

I ended up in Barnes and Nobles where I read part of Tucker Max’s book They Serve Beer in Hell after reading a Gawker post about how much Gawker hates him. I agree. His stories are funny, but I actually had to stop reading at times because it was so offensive. I feel like if I read more of him, I might actually become more twisted myself, because he normalizes misogyny and problem drinking and being a narcissistic asshole to an insane extent. Engendering sympathy is not the most difficult task when writing from the first-person, even if he justifies everything he does because the girl was a "dumb bitch" or a "stupid whore." He is so beyond.

To swing back around to food again, I stopped by this Yoga slash health food store that has the best bulk bins. I love bulk bins.

They have a physicality to them, as you pick exactly what you want, perhaps pilfer a taste of an oddly-seasoned nut, and weigh the bag. It feels a little quaint and old-school. Also, it gives you a chance to sample weird ingredients and buy exactly what you need, a single girl’s dream. I bought curry cashews, which I have yet to see at another store, unlike other items like granola, where I see the same “Save the Rainforest” and “Vanilla Crunch” at different places. I also bought tamari almonds, another favorite. Lastly, I bought some brown rice (72 cents worth, love it!) as I have some tofu and veggies and am contemplating a stir-fry later this week. I don’t know how to cook rice, so any advice would be helpful. I understand brown rice is tricky and needs a ton of time. There were also six varieties of brown rice there (I told you this place has amazing bulk bins) so I hope I got the right kind.