28 August 2008

I brought the money. Did you bring the arugula?

For one week only, I’ve decided to give vegetarianism a whirl.

I’d say a solid 70% of my good friends are vegetarians. Many, recent converts. And yes, I AM doing it because everyone else is doing it. The fact that everyone else is doing it—voluntarily—means there must be some sort of draw. I want to see what all the hype is about.

And to answer your question, if they all jumped off a bridge, yada yada… Well, there must be something cool under the bridge, right?

I'd maybe strap on a parachute, so just in case it’s a let down, I don’t die.

That’s kind of the idea with the one-week timeline. It’s my parachute. In case the vegetables turn against me.

So far (four days), the experience has been pretty surprising. The first day was easy, it was pretty much a normal meat-free day. I've dabbled in one-off meat-free days for years. The second day was when things really started to reveal themselves...

All of the things I thought would be hard really haven’t and vice versa.

The hardest thing so far hasn’t been craving steak, bacon, or turkey sandwiches (which are usually my lunch staple), like I expected. It hasn’t been finding good vegetarian alternatives, either.

The hardest thing has actually been being conscious of what I'm eating. Like tuesday, for example, I didn’t bring my lunch. So I went around the corner to Au Bon Pain and was next in line to order my usual, a thai chicken wrap. Then I realized there is actually chicken in the thai chicken wrap. So I left, cause everything else at Au Bon Pain is garbage.

Then I walked over to the new Whole Foods that just opened in Tribeca (which is gorgeous, by the way) and went for the sushi counter. I picked up a tuna-avocado roll, and then set it back down. Remembering then that I can’t eat fish either. TRICKED AGAIN!

So I went to the salad bar. And you know, there are a lot more meat dishes than you’d expect at the salad bar. I had to stop myself from going for what I normally would have. Then I wondered if I actually do eat a lot more meat than I thought, without ever really thinking about it?

What else do I eat without thinking about it?

Weather or not this stint goes beyond a week, it’s an interesting exercise in thinking about what fuels your body. I’ll definitely stick to the week, but the longest this could possibly last is Thanksgiving. No tofurkey for this girl. I want the real thing.

Tonight I am entertaining my favorite vegetarian couple for dinner and Obama speech-watching. I’ve decided to cook stuffed peppers I have all of the ingredients except the actual peppers. So at lunch today, I walked to the grocery store to load up.

On the way, I came across a street vendor selling peppers.

This is one of the great things about New York. You can pretty much buy anything on the street at any given time. Jerk chicken and/or goat? There’s a Jamaican lunch truck two blocks from me. Delicious roasted nuts? Get off at the nearest subway stop anywhere in Manhattan and follow your nose. Hot Cartier watch? I can’t guarantee it's authenticity or if the battery will last longer than the end of the week--but yeah, you can get those too. Then, wedged in between the $5 cashmere scarf vendor and the designer imposter fragrances vendor is a guy with a wagon full of bananas, raspberries, tomatoes, cantaloupe…and today…orange bell peppers.

Some people are wary of buying fruit on the street. I think maybe you should be more wary of buying hot dogs and/or goat meat on the street. Doubly wary of goat-meat-hot-dogs.

I said to myself "If they've got a ridiculously good deal on peppers, like 3 for $1, I will buy street peppers."

SIX for $1.

I don't know how they grow those peppers, but it probably involves some sort of black magic.

Is black magic considered a certified organic growing process? I don't think you would categorize it as "conventional," at least.

But whatever you do, don’t you dare classify my peppers as elitist.

They are street peppers. Even filled with couscous and baby spinach, I’ll know where they came from.

25 August 2008

There Will Be Blood.

Ed. Note: A new Mike has joined our group of friends in New York. So for the sake of clarity, we'll call him "Goggles." Original Mike will be called "Mike." Sorry Goggles, first come, first serve.

Goggles is relatively new to hanging out with Sarah and me. Which is why you can't really blame the guy for asking his friend, upon arrival at a party in Harlem Saturday night, "So where's Weaver? Upstairs?"

Obviously, knowing no one at this party, Sarah proceeded to take the awkwardness level to 11:

"Wait. Weaver's **here**?? Weaves!! WEAVERRRRR!!!!"

Weaver hadn't shown up yet. But rest assured, as soon as he did, Sarah had her marker on the mysterious (and tardy) "Weaves."

The group of us that did not know anyone at this party—Mike, Sarah and me—along with Mike's brother Joe (who coincidentally did knew people at this party, albeit through different channels) occupied the two futons set at a 90 degree angle in the far corner of the living room, basically keeping to ourselves while the rest of the party bustled around us. Occasionally, we'd get up to get some pita and hummus, or a can of beer.

After a couple of hours and a couple of beers, Mike and Joe made the decision to go outside and fight. There was no argument at hand to fight over, they just mutually agreed to engage in fisticuffs. For fun. Like Pitt and Norton (although now I’m sure they’ll get into a REAL argument over which one is Pitt and which one is Norton). So Mike and Joe went outside and Sarah and I went into another room to chat with Kristin.

When in stumbled the elusive Weaver.

We were so excited that Weaves finally showed up at this party. And Sarah wasn't shy about letting him know it.

By the way, I think a fun game to play would be "e-vite Bingo." In this game, participants would examine the e-vite RSVPs for a party they were invited to by a peripheral friend—so that chances are more likely that you wouldn’t know anyone on the RSVP list, save a few acquaintances you recognize from hearsay. Each square on your bingo card would display a name that has RSVP'd "yes" or "maybe." That way, when you get an affirmative answer from the guy in the corner as to whether or not he is ilovecats2000@hotmail.com and you've already covered your other squares and/or free space, you can yell "BINGO" and that party will really be started).

Anyway, Weaver was pretty excited that we were pretty excited to meet him. So he sat down to address our questions. And this is how the conversation went:

Sarah: So what do you do?
Weaver: I work at a hospital.
Sarah: What do you do there?
Weaver: Not much, actually. I pretty much sit at a computer and read blogs all day.
Leslie: What's your favorite blog?
Weaver: [Weaver names some blog I have never heard of]
Leslie: Come again?
Weaver: [repeats name of mystery blog] or townhall.com. Pretty much any sort of neo-con right-wing blog or conservative website. (please note that he is dead fucking serious)
Sarah and Leslie: [blank stare]

Kristin just started laughing because she knew what sort of shit he had just stepped into.

Sarah was speechless. She just stood up slowly and walked out of the room.

Here's the thing: I tend to have liberal views, but if someone asked me what my favorite blog is, I'd say wwtdd.com or Gawker. Then, maybeRachel's blog. Noteatingoutinnewyork.com, Stereogum, ANY of the blogs at nymag.com I promise you that I would name at least 15 non-political blogs as my favorite before I ever even thought about mentioning Huffington Post.

And I'd also never write someone off because they have conservative views. But if you feel the NEED to paint yourself as a neo-con less than 60 seconds into a conversation with a stranger at a party, that's obviously a trait you choose to wear on your sleeve, choose to be outspoken about no matter the situation. I don't think I could be friends with anyone who talks politics 24/7. Christ, I bet even Keith Olbermann takes breaks to check out Perez Hilton.

So I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, and stuck around. Out of curiosity, I asked Weaver what he thought of the Biden veep choice. Two minutes later, I excused myself to go to the bathroom. (Weaver-induced nausea).

When I met Sarah back in the living room, we realized that both of us had left our purses in the room with Weaver. After a bit, she went in to retrieve her bag, which apparently resulted in further communication with Weaver, because she found out that he was at this party with a date—A LADY—their second date, in fact.

The next portion of the party consisted of:

1. Mike returning with a wrist injury/Joe returning with an arm injury. No blood, though. Thankfully.
2. Sarah and I sitting in a corner, snickering at our own jokes about Weaver. For example: What do you weave on your loom? A web of conservative lies? I bet his date is Ann Coulter. Etc., etc.

Hours later, Weaver emerged from his lair (not wearing a flag pin, I will note) and I figured enough smoke had cleared that we could all look back and laugh at our comically unfortunate first meeting. So I suggested that Sarah take the copy of that's morning's New York Post that I had folded up in my purse—with a pic of Joe-Bama on the front page—over to Weaver as a peace offering. Little did I know, this was the house-party equivalent of ordering her to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand.

The events that followed included, but were not limited to:
  • The phrase "Being an American means upholding Judeo-Christian values" coming out of Weaver's mouth/Sarah's head exploding.
  • multiple attempts at reciting the first amendment word-for-word
  • Joe Googling the exact verbage of the first amendment to verify a winner (Sarah)
  • The need to incorporate a “talking stick” so that people could speak freely without being yelled over. In the absence of any stick-yielding shrubbery on 117th street, we had to designate one of those little toothpick-drink-umbrellas as the “talking stick.” Weaver refused to yield the talking stick when his time was up, so Sarah just went in the kitchen and got a different colored one. Kind of made the talking stick a moot point.
  • Weaver’s citation of some guy named “Thomas Locke.” And Joe interrupting him (sans talking stick) with: “Are you fucking kidding me? Do you mean John Locke?” Then, while poorly attempting to stifle his own laughter, recited John Locke’s entire entry on Wikipedia. FROM MEMORY.
  • A total clearing out of everyone at the party who wasn't involved in the argument

Once the talking sticks emerged, I got up and walked to the other side of the room, because I was sure a punch (or a toothpick) was going to be thrown and I didn't want to get any blood on my new Stella McCartney jeans (Barney's Warehouse Sale—hollaaaaaaaa.) But just when it seemed Team Weaver and Team Dell (Joe and Sarah) had escalated to the point of murderous rage, a new guy walked in with a bike helmet on and said "You know, I agree with you guys. The conservatives have got to go. Not to mention the Jews and the Puerto Ricans."


But, turns out the new guy was a jewish Puerto Rican—a self-proclaimed “Jew-rican” (his word, not mine), so I guess he is allowed to joke about that? Either way, he ended up bringing harmony to the party, and shortly thereafter, Weaver and his blond date (also a staunch conservative—I think she might actually be Ann Coulter's little sister, so I wasn't too far off) left the party. Hopefully not to reproduce.

Our bike-helmeted "Jew-rican" friend pedaled into the night. His peacekeeping mission was over.

And then the group of us that did not know anyone at this party—Mike, Sarah, me— and Joe, realized we were alone in the apartment.
"WHO LIVES HERE?" Mike yelled out.

It was 3:30 am in New York and all we heard were crickets...and the faint sound of sirens that constitutes as white noise in the city.

We looted what was left of the snack table and left Harlem.