Wednesday, October 29, 2008

She calls it "The one where I was a bitch"

After weeks of receiving email for a different Graci, my friend sent the different Graci this message...

If I remember correctly, I emailed you several weeks ago about the fact that I have been receiving emails that are actually intended for you. While I continue to receive emails from several other people trying to reach you, I have also started receiving email from you which I believe you are trying to cc to yourself. I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of the fact that while we do have the same name, we do, indeed, have different email addresses.

Do you hear that tone? That little bit of bitchy flare? And this, from my bff, a woman known for her perpetual kindness?

Yeah, well...don't fuck with her email.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mushroom risotto

I'm posting a recipe.

I know what you're thinking...Since when does she cook?

Well, in my pre-blog years--the wedded years--I cooked several times a week. Not because I loved cooking, but because if I didn't have something resembling dinner ready when he got home from work, there was sure to be a fight. I never really hated cooking either. I just hated that I was cooking to avoid some big fucking argument about why I wasn't cooking. So, when I became a single woman again, I quit cooking. Every meal I didn't cook was actually cause for a small celebration. Each night at 5:30, I thought, I'm not going to cook tonight, and no one gets to yell at me for that...yay divorce!

It turns out, it takes me awhile to heal. Here I am, almost two years later, and I'm just now returning to the kitchen. I'm going to tell this to the next person who asks me why I'm not dating anyone. Dating? Hell, I just started sauteing again.

Alright, enough with the blathering...on with the cooking. I've made this recipe twice now. It's turned out well both times.

It's an extremely simple mushroom risotto with my notes in italics. It goes like this...

5 to 6 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots Except, I use vidalia onions because I like them.
1 teaspoon minced garlic Or, maybe a tablespoon.
12 ounces assorted mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced, stems removed I use shiitake and portobello mushrooms.
2 cups arborio rice
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme Maria needs to start a mail-order service from her garden so that those of us who don't grow any can buy her extra. The thyme I bought at my local supermarket tonight was beyond pathetic.
1 cup dry white wine Or, whatever white wine you like to drink.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves I skip this.
1 to 2 teaspoons truffle oil, optional
No, not optional. Absolutely necessary. Spend the money on this flavored olive oil. It's worth it.

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to very low to keep hot.

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the oil and melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallots (or onions) and garlic, and cook, stirring until fragrant and soft, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until wilted and their liquid is evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains are opaque, about 1 minute. Stir in the thyme. Open the wine. Throw away the cork--you won't be needing it. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until nearly all evaporated. Add 3/4 cup of the stock, the salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, until the stock is nearly all evaporated. Continue adding more stock 1/2 cup at a time as the previous addition is nearly absorbed, until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy.

This is going to take awhile. But, it's the best part of the whole process if you do it right. First, see that overhead light you turned on when you walked in the kitchen? Turn that off. You have a little light over your stove or sink, yes? That's all you need. We're not doing brain surgery here. Next, as long as we're standing here, stirring, we might as well listen to a little jazz. A little Diana Krall or Andrea Mann perhaps.

See that bottle of wine next to your pan? You threw away the cork, so now you have to find a way to empty the bottle. A little in the risotto, a little for the chef. Swing your hips back and forth as Ms. Mann or Ms. Krall sings, sip some wine, stir the risotto...I trust you'll figure it out.

Stir in cream, 1/2 cup of the cheese, and the parsley (if you're into parsley) and mix well.

Remove from the heat and adjust the seasoning, to taste. If desired, stir in truffle oil to taste. It's desired. Trust me.

And now, we eat the risotto and drink whatever wine might be left.'s to cooking for the fun of it.
Cheers, friends.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A leisurely walk through Crazyville

The apartment is quiet.

I'm sitting on the couch in my pajamas (scrubs and a soft tee shirt) and a hoodie. My hair looks like Fraggle Rock got caught in a wind storm. I just finished my coffee and Dive's post about dowdy old cult ladies pimping out their daughters to try to lure him to church. It was an inspiring story about the deep personal commitment some people make to evangelism. Personally, I felt convicted to do more to try to trick people into coming to Jesus. I have the day off. Perhaps I'll spend a portion of it trying to come up with ways to do just that.

Perhaps not.

Speaking of days off, I've had a few too many of those lately. I've been in Rheumatology clinic for the past two weeks, and the schedule there is, uh...light. Like three half days a week with the occasional clinic day canceled light. It sounded like heaven when I signed up for it, but, it turns out, this isn't the best time for me to have so much time on my hands. I find myself worrying entirely too much about interviews, scheduling flights, that one letter of recommendation that still isn't completed (this, in particular, is driving me bat shit crazy), finding a belt to match my suit.

Yes, that's right. Last night, I actually had a moment of panic over a belt. Like, what if I never find a belt that looks right? What if I have to go to all of these interviews without a belt? And what if I get nervous and can't eat much the night before and the next day my pants don't fit right and then right there, in the middle of one of those lame-ass hospital tours, my pants fall down around my ankles and then I'm standing there in front of some program director without any pants on and all anyone can think is, damn, that girl has some pasty white chicken legs? SHIT. If I can't find a belt, I'm never going to get into a residency. Not with these legs.

See, way too much free time.

Monday, I start a month of pediatric ICU. I suck at peds, so I'll have a lot of reading to do. Not a lot of free time. And, while I don't necessarily look forward to being swamped with work, I do very much look forward to the return of my sanity.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Once again, she's confused about the job description

Question for Sarah Palin from a 3rd grader: "What does the Vice President do?"
Sarah Palin: "They're in charge of the United States Senate, so, if they want to, they can really get in there with the Senators and make a lot of good policy changes.", no, they can't. Or, I should say, no he or she can't, as Vice President is actually singular.

The United States Constitution (I found a copy Bush hadn't quite burned yet. Singed, but not totally fried.) Article I, Section 3: The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

Since you read anything anyone puts in front of you (that is what you said, right?), I implore the people who put things in front of you to replace that Cheerios box with a copy of the United States Constitution.

Read it. And then, explain to me how exactly you're going to "make a lot of good policy changes" without a vote in the Senate.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Basically, we drove around and went to some gas stations

So, this didn't exactly go as planned.

Graci decided she was going to come with me. She was looking for a new way to procrastinate, and driving to Michigan to watch someone else buy a suit was one of the few techniques she hadn't tried recently. We started the trip by stopping for gas. I hadn't eaten, so she ran into the gas station to get me a bottled water and some Combos while I filled my tank. Then, we were on the road. Eating Combos. Talking about whatever the hell it is we talk about.

About 25 miles into the trip, Graci said something about not feeling so good. When I say that I don't feel so good, it usually means I'm getting a cold (which I typically call pneumonia, because the amount of whining I do when I have a virus is pathetic and annoying if it's just a cold, but completely understandable if it's a potentially-fatal lung infection we're talking about). When Graci says she's not feeling good, though, it usually means she's about to pass out. (She has a condition. We call it her condition.)

Is there any medical condition that comes on in a vehicle that doesn't prompt the afflicted to roll down her window? I can't think of one. Anyway, in keeping with the long tradition of "getting some air" when one suddenly feels like shit in the car, Graci rolled down the window. I pointed at the bottle of water, which, up until this point, I had been drinking, and offered her the rest. She laughed at me. "What's so funny?" I asked. She picked up the bottle and shook it in my general direction. There was about half an ounce left. "Oh," I said, "so much for the water. Sorry." I told her I'd find a gas station and buy her some more. She said that wouldn't be necessary. Then, she laid her seat flat and put her feet up.

I know you're not really supposed to laugh at people who may soon be unconscious, but the sight of her green Chuck Taylors propped up on the dashboard was sort of funny. And I wasn't laughing at her. I was laughing with her. Really. She was laughing, too. We started discussing the logistics of the impending loss of consciousness, things like whether or not I should bother to pull over if she did pass out. We decided that if she was only going to be out about 30 seconds or so, I could probably just keep driving. But, if she was out for more than a minute, I should probably at least slow down to check her pulse or something.

I got off on an exit while Graci yelled at me about how she didn't really need any water. I don't listen to a fucking thing she says, because she's my friend. So, as per usual, I told her to shut it because I was ignoring her anyway.

I ran into gas station #2 of the trip and bought a big ass water. I handed it to Graci and said, "Drink it. Now." As I got back on the highway, Graci commenced to bitching about how difficult it was to drink while lying flat. I told her to keep drinking. In fact, I told her that if she passed out, I was going to dump the remaining water on her face. "You'd really do that, wouldn't you?" It's called tough love. She kept drinking.

Suddenly, I realized that I had been a little distracted with the fluid resuscitation and, in the process, may have gotten lost. It certainly didn't help that my navigator couldn't see the road signs from where she was lying. I drove a few more miles and then decided to turn around. I felt fairly certain that we had missed our turnoff.

For awhile there, Graci was looking a little better--face not so pale, lips not so blue. But then, she started fidgeting in her seat, looking a little squirrely. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing. I just, uh...really, really have to pee. It's all that fucking water you made me drink."

"Well, if you could maintain consciousness without all that fluid, I wouldn't have made you drink it." It's important to make sure everyone knows whose fault this is. Then, we spent the next 20 miles laughing about how Graci might urinate on my passenger seat.

Long story short (oh wait, too late), we made it home sans unconsciousness and incontinence. As soon as we walked in the aparment, Graci bolted to the bathroom. When she came out, she sat down on the couch in a heap and declared that she would now be taking a nap. The whole ordeal had exhausted her.

"That was fun," she said, "We should drive around Michigan more often while I try not to pass out or pee on myself."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A short list...

of things I should be doing, in the order in which they should probably be done:

1. Get off of the couch. (Meet the Press is over. There's nothing else worth watching.)
2. Shower.
3. Get dressed.
4. Fold the laundry that remains in the basket after you've removed what you need to accomplish #3.
5. Schlep your ass over here. (And I say schlep because this really isn't very close to my house. At all.)
6. Buy that suit.

I've been sitting on my ass for almost two days now, doing my part to debunk the myth that medical students work all the time. In fact, I'm practically on vacation. I'm doing Rheumatology clinic right now. This translates to three half days a week in which I go in to work, ask the patients about their symptoms, and then watch the attending either treat or totally ignore them as his mood dictates.

The other day, I introduced a patient to the attending by saying, "This is Mary Whatchamacallit, and she hurts all over. Her arthritis is as bad as it's ever been." I then suggested a med, which, I'll admit, I pretty much pulled out of my ass, as I don't really know much about Rheumatology. He poo-pooed my suggestion and then said, "Well Mary, I'm glad you're doing so well. I'll see you again in about six weeks."

And that was it. We were done.

As he shook her hand and stood up to leave the room, I sat across from her thinking, I had to iron dress pants to be a part of this crock of shit? Unbelievable.

Mary, if you're reading this, it's time for you to find a new doctor.

And it's time for this wannabe doctor to go buy that suit. This lounge wear probably won't work for those residency interviews next month. (Although, I do wear it quite well.)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

All the news that's fit to print

Turns out that Joe the Plumber is not a licensed plumber. His full name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he owes a bit in back taxes.

(It's the funniest thing I've read all day.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Like tweets, but longer

I'm drinking mint tea and sucking on Ricola. I was just saying the other day that it's been quite awhile since I've been sick. The universe listened.

The cat just took a flying leap across the room and landed on my forehead. And this is why I like her best when she's sleeping.

FOX news is saying that McCain didn't get the game-changer he needed with this debate. So sad. (Air quotes around sad.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

Trying times indeed

Further evidence of the housing crisis plaguing this great nation. A year ago, he might have tried to sell; but this year, he had to walk away. He simply owed more than the exoskeleton was worth.

The bank that owns the shell isn't doing much better.

I'm dusting off the Fireside Chats, trying not to panic.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The fall of my foul mood

Having been a bit, as Graci would say, downtrodden oh and also melancholy since I got back this week, I decided that I would head out to the park with my camera. I was determined to find some beauty. DAMN IT. (And really, that's the best way to search for beauty--angry and driven.)

What follows is fall's attempt to beat the bitchy out of me...

And, as it turns out, that autumn light thing has a way of sucking the snark right out of me.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This message

As I write this, I'm watching a commercial that says Barack Obama works with terrorists... I'm John McCain, and I approve this message.

McCain's attacks fuel dangerous hatred
By Frank Schaeffer

John McCain: If your campaign does not stop equating Sen. Barack Obama with terrorism, questioning his patriotism and portraying Mr. Obama as "not one of us," I accuse you of deliberately feeding the most unhinged elements of our society the red meat of hate, and therefore of potentially instigating violence.

At a Sarah Palin rally, someone called out, "Kill him!" At one of your rallies, someone called out, "Terrorist!" Neither was answered or denounced by you or your running mate, as the crowd laughed and cheered. At your campaign event Wednesday in Bethlehem, Pa., the crowd was seething with hatred for the Democratic nominee - an attitude encouraged in speeches there by you, your running mate, your wife and the local Republican chairman.


John McCain: In 2000, as a lifelong Republican, I worked to get you elected instead of George W. Bush. In return, you wrote an endorsement of one of my books about military service. You seemed to be a man who put principle ahead of mere political gain.
You have changed. You have a choice: Go down in history as a decent senator and an honorable military man with many successes, or go down in history as the latest abettor of right-wing extremist hate...

John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.


I've heard quite a bit about New Yorkers since I got back earlier this week. People who hear that I've been there say a lot of, "Ugh, those New Yorkers are so rude." All of this from Midwesterners who have never lived in the city, of course. But, it seems, if there's one thing these people know for sure, it's that everyone living everywhere else is a jackass.

I actually found New Yorkers to be quite lovely. When you live in New York, when you take the subway to and from work at rush hour, when you shop in a neighborhood grocery store, when you spend lazy weekends in the park; you realize just how great New Yorkers can be.

The tourists who bitch about a rude New York fail to recognize that the city is not an amusement park. It's inhabitants are not Disney employees paid to make sure you have a pleasant stay. The New Yorkers live there. When they're out in the city, they're actually trying to get somewhere. If you're standing in the middle of a street corner at 6:30 on a Friday evening holding your camera and a map, spinning in those wiiide tourist circles, trying to figure out which way is east, you shouldn't be surprised if some woman trying to get home to her kids after a long day at the office tells you to MOVE.

If you followed that woman into the subway, you would see that, without saying a word, she'll take the cumbersome bag from the old woman in front of her and lift it to the top of the escalator. She'll do this for two reasons: first, she is a decent human being who cares for the elderly, and second, the old lady was taking so long that none of us was going to make it from the 51st to 53rd street station if somebody didn't move things along. I respect her for both.

The point is, I'm not convinced that it's a city full of jackasses. In fact, I found a lot of people--very different people--living in a relatively small space, very few of them killing each other. Like I said, lovely.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


On my way back from New York, I spent a few days with the family.
I finally got to take some pictures of my brother's greatest accomplishment.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Turning a page

"We are looking for a very aggressive last 30 days," said Greg Strimple, one of McCain's top advisers. "We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama's aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans."

As a famous Republican once said, "There you go again..."

You've got no plan for the worst economy since the 1930's, so you are resorting to smears.

Careful there, Senator McCain. Seventy-two years is a long time to be on the planet. I'm sure there are 4 or, maybe, (Keating) 5 things we could bring up about you, too.

Or, we could discuss economic plans...
If you make less than a quarter million a year, you won't see your taxes raise one penny.

Is that what you meant by aggressively liberal? If so, I'd like a quarter pound aggressively liberal with a side of risky, risky fries.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Until we meet again

I have a fondness for this place akin to what I imagine some women feel for Justin Timberlake or Melissa Etheridge.

New York, I will be back.
In the meantime, I will miss you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Went downstairs to do laundry.

Came back up to find, "Hey, I'm your new roommate! Did they tell you I was coming?"

"Um, no. No, they did not. If they had told me, I wouldn't have left my bra on the couch. Yeah, that bra. The one your boyfriend's sitting on."