Posts Tagged ‘Living’

Twenty years ago today…

November 9, 2009 Leave a comment

I was a child riding in the back of my daddy’s grey Cadillac with my sister by my side. We were barreling down a tree-lined boulevard within a mile or two of our home. Dad was listening intently to the radio, and all of a sudden, he turned up the volume and said

Listen, girls. This is history. You’re too young to understand now… but someday, you’ll be proud to tell your children you were alive on the day that the Berlin Wall fell.

The words didn’t mean a thing to me, but the look on my dad’s face, and the gravity in his voice, gave me pause. I tried to get it, to look solemn, and to make him proud of me.

Later, of course, I learned about the deprivation, the cruelty, the triumph. It meant more then, and I thought I was horrified at it.

At twenty, I backpacked alone through Germany, making special stops to explore Dresden (a citystorydreampileofashes that has always haunted me) and, of course, Berlin.

You know, you can still see a difference between the East and the West sectors. The East is a little more spartan, pockmarked in places; there’s a McDonalds restaurant, though, and you get the feeling that East Germany didn’t finish getting dressed for the party and now that it’s there, feels a bit out of place; a little naked.

The remnants of the Wall, of course, are a shrine now. I crouched down and laid the palm of my hand against what was left; it’s more graffiti than it is wall. And it’s thinner than I had imagined, a poorer barrier than its reputation suggests. The “Iron Curtain” was mostly an idea.

Which of your ideas impoverishes you? Which separates and distances you from the life you want to have? Bear down on it with enough rage and enough determination, and you may find it somewhat weaker than you thought.


Wake-up calls for deep sleepers

September 16, 2009 5 comments

Perhaps it’s due to the amount I sleep; perhaps it’s a lack of willpower; perhaps it’s simply congenital; but I’m an incredibly heavy sleeper.

It’s been a problem for quite some time. I battle to get up each morning. Alarms don’t wake me, because I sleepwalk to the alarm and unconsciously turn it off or hit snooze  5 times.

I’ve tried a great many methods for addressing the issue.

  • Placing the alarm across the room.
  • Placing the alarm in a different room.
  • Placing three alarm clocks in different rooms of my apartment.
  • Hiding the alarm clock so I have to dig to get it.
  • Wrapping the alarm clock in multiple layers of envelopes and rubber bands to extend the time I have to spend manipulating it, and hopefully give myself an opportunity to wade ashore from the mud of REM sleep.
  • Setting the alarm clock for an hour early to give me time to “sleep in.”
  • Setting the alarm clock for 10 minutes late to jolt me with urgency.
  • Setting the alarm on my phone to go off with a vibration and going to sleep spooning the phone.
  • Placing my coffee maker on my bedside table to lure me with the aroma of wakefulness.
  • Setting a CD-playing alarm clock to wake me up with Cradle of Filth. (Don’t look this band up. Just be aware that the first song opens with a ghastly 10-second scream and black metal guitar riffs. That only put me in a murderous mood until about 2:30 pm.)
  • After that flopped, I set the CD-alarm clock to wake me up with my favorite song. (That only led to me pleasantly and peacefully snoozing through the first half of the disc.)
  • Prepare to cringe: I have even taped a strip of thumbtacks – sharp side up – to the snooze button. Not pleasant. Didn’t really work. Needed band-aids.

I drink a lot of coffee.

This post does have a point: I did some digging and found some truly, truly wicked sweet alarm clocks I’d like to share with you today. (Many thanks to and for tips.) I’m trying to decide which one will be my life partner. Check it out.


snuznluzThis alarm clock connects to your bank account via wi-fi. Every time you hit snooze, it transfers your money to a hated charity of your choice. That’s innovation. Given that I’m both frugal and highly opinionated on social and political issues, this just might be my match.

Flying Alarm Clock

Flying Alarm Clock
Brilliant. When it’s time for you to get up, the blowfly alarm clock takes off in flight. To turn it off, you have to chase it around the room and place it back on its base. I found something like this on Amazon a while back, but tragically, the Amazon version had bad reviews for shoddy construction.

Jigsaw Puzzle Alarm Clock

puzzle alarm
When this “Puzzle Alarm” from Bim Bam Banana goes off, it fires four puzzle pieces into the air. The alarm clock will not pipe down until you find the pieces and put them back together.

Laser Target Alarm Clock

Laser Target Alarm ClockTo turn this clock off, you have to grab the Star Trek-style laser beam and concentrate carefully to aim the laser at the bull’s-eye of the target. I actually don’t know if I’m coordinated enough to handle this task even at my most alert.


This one is called Clocky. When you hit the snooze button, it rolls off of the nightstand, falls to the floor, and scurries around the room, searching for a place to hide. To turn the alarm off, you have to go find him.

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State secrets declassified, episode 1: Chocolate Mousse

August 24, 2009 1 comment

While I take great pride in my cooking, to my own credit, I’m not stingy about sharing my recipes. Great food, along with great literature and music, belongs to the world. Therefore, as a public service, I will occasionally provide a recipe to one of my best dishes. First off: chocolate mousse. It’s just so impressive. And I can tell you how to make it in 5 minutes.

You need:

4 ounces of semisweet chocolate, plus extra for garnish

15 ounces of ricotta cheese

2 tablespoons of powdered sugar

Melt the chocolate. Pour it into a blender along with the ricotta cheese and sugar. Or a food processor.  Blend it, baby.

Serve it with some shaved chocolate for prettiness’ sake; I like to plop in a few raspberries, too.

That’s about four servings, depending on how many gourmands you’re entertaining. Just multiply the proportions for more. (That is, 8 oz. chocolate to 30 oz. ricotta to 4 tbsp. sugar for 8 people, etc.)


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