Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some go for the shoes; I go for the shawarma.

Last year, I went to Nicaragua with my ex. Right before our trip he expressed concern about the possibility of food poisoning.

"I might just not eat anything there," he said.
We were going to be there for two weeks. I was confused.
"What will you eat?" I asked.
"I don't know, I'll bring yogurt or something," he replied. I knew a pop culture reference was coming, something that convinced him this atrocity was pardonable. "You know, Charlotte-SATC-movie style."

It occurred to me that I wouldn't want to go if I couldn't eat the local food. If I couldn't immerse myself through taste, if I couldn't adorn my taste buds with what locals choose to nourish (or at least pleasure) their bodies… why go at all?

Since then I've come to embrace the fact that my travels revolve around food and people, with a side of alone time to write about food and people… while drinking a pourover coffee.

Photo courtesy of Tertulia

So before I visit my mother for a New Jersey Christmas, I am going to spend one full day in NYC. I am scrupulously plotting my meals, coffee breaks and wine-accompanied meriendas.

Before I maniacally try to cram the city's culinary craftsmanship into my belly during a 24-hour period, I am open to suggestions. So leave me a comment (mind you, my dinner slot is taken by Tertulia, recently reviewed in the Times—there's my love of Spain, ever surface level). Oh, and I will be reviewing every place I visit in a January 2012 post (and on NiftyNYC).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pizza, Love and Jesus

The farm-to-table concept of making a connection between farmers, food and consumers has finally, in recent years, become cherished—and people in Boulder County are taking food authenticity to a moralistic level.

Flippin' pies at Locale. Photo by: Vandenoever
When you step into Pizzeria Locale, the first thing you’ll notice is the massive 1,000-degree wood-burning oven forged together from pecan and oak wood and volcanic rock culled from Mt. Vesuvius—the only Ferrara oven in Colorado. While the folks at Locale understood the value of producing culturally authentic Italian food and incorporating tools and materials, including the Ferrara oven, the Transportation Security Administration didn’t. Stefano Ferrara originally sent over all of the materials to build the oven in Boulder, including brick, clay and dirt from the heart of Naples. But all TSA saw was raw organic material.

“They were like, ‘Why don’t you just use dirt from Boulder?’” said Chris Donato, general manager of Pizzeria Locale. “They didn’t understand that it was an authentic thing, that it was going to be more of an art piece.”

TSA destroyed those materials. What you’ll see when you walk into Locale is the second attempt, an oven made by Ferrara and shipped over, pre-made on the soil that is the home of what most agree is the best pizza in the world.

Traditional European food culture embodies the elements of simplicity and craftsmanship—a duo Americans haven’t, until recently, been accustomed to seeing served together. Only in the last several years have Americans started to value high-quality food (U.S. sales of organic food and beverages grew from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010) and make an effort to become knowledgeable about where their food comes from.

Chef Jordan Wallace of Locale spent four months in Italy working at pizzerias, studying the art of pizza-making in Naples before the restaurant opened in Boulder.

“We wanted to have the exact same thing that’s offered on the streets of Naples,” Donato said.
Everything from the V.D.F. prosciutto slicer (hand-crafted by father and son team Mirco and Gary Schnidero) to the arrival of the pizza to your table uncut—which annoys some diners—is a nod to authentic Napolitan style and tradition.

“The pizza isn’t pre-cut because there’s lot more moisture to it; our mozzerella is very fresh so it’s really watery, the San Marzano tomatoes have more water to them, and we store mushrooms in oil so they’re richer,” Donato said. “If we cut the pizza for you, the water seeps into the dough faster, compromising the integrity of the dough.”

Donato said Locale is not about kitsch, but rather, holding true to tradition.

“People have been doing things this way for hundreds of years,” Donato said. “If you do things one way for that long, you end up producing something beautiful.”

After spending two years in Girona, Spain, fiancées Coral Ferguson and Will Frischkorn opened Cured, a cheese shop, in downtown Boulder. But they haven’t left their European ideals behind.

“European culture around food is so thoughtful. It’s not convenience-focused,” Ferguson said. “It takes more time out of their day, but it’s time they enjoy because so much of their life is focused around food.”

Cured has a small-market feel, with sections of the shop dedicated to local fruit and vegetables, cheese, bread, cured meats, wine and freshly made to-go items such as salads and sandwiches.

Frischkorn said he hopes to help people become more knowledgeable about their local food and farmers through the presentation of their products (read: samples abound!) and hosting weekly classes.

“We’ll bring in different purveyors, cheese makers and brewers, and teach people how farmer’s grow things, about the composition of the soil,” he said. “None of the cheese will be cut and wrapped in plastic. You’ll be able to try everything.”

Cured isn’t about importing European delicacies, but selling specialty meats and cheeses from the states, further expanding the growing movement toward local, fresh, simple food.

“We have so many incredible restaurants here, but we want to teach people that if you have quality ingredients, you can create incredible meals anywhere,” Ferguson said. “It doesn’t take a massive amount of tools or skill.”

Sarah Amorese designed downtown Boulder’s Piece, Love & Chocolate like a European boutique based on her travels.

“There’s a chocolate shop on every block in parts of France,” Amorese said. “It’s just the way they treat food: everything is smaller, there’s more attention to detail and craft, and there’s such respect for the purveyors and the ingredients.”

Amorese said she was amazed how food—even basic staples—was revered in France.

“I was in the Camargue [region] where fleur de sel comes from, and there was this huge festival of rice going on. Just rice. There was even a rice princess,” she said.

The shop’s open-glass chocolate case, based on that of a shop in Beaune, France, displays the truffles like jewels.

“We designed it so there would be more conversation,” Amorese said.

This sense of personal connection combined with experience of European culture provides the backbone for well-traveled locals trying to maintain the authentic experience.

“Our whole shop will be filled with products that speak to us,” Frischkorn said.

And if you don’t see the oven first in Locale, you’ll definitely see Jesus. Floating prominently above the bar and hand-carved in 1905, the piece was an opening gift representative of the religious and cultural tradition in southern Italy.

“If you walk into a pizzeria, there should be some Jesus,” Donato said.

Amy Segreti is a journalist and editor living in Boulder. She strives to live purposefully with regard to place, pleasure and palate. Especially palate.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Behind the Scenes: Being a Master Sommelier

A version of this article was published in the September 2011 issue of Rooster Magazine, of which I am the managing editor. Enjoy!

How to be a master sommelier
Your exams are nothing compared to this.
Photos and interview by: Amy Segreti

Take it from Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey, co-owner of Frasca, winner of a James Beard Award and runner of marathons—even if you fail an exam five times, you can still be a baller. Rooster sat down with Bobby to get behind the scenes of becoming a master sommelier, which involves passing an exam that 90% of testers fail every year, due mostly to its rigorous tasting requirements. Want to try it? Let us put a glass of wine in front of you and then tell us all about it—acidity, grape, country of origin, district and appellation of origin, and vintage. Exactly.

Bobby Stuckey

What made you want to become a Master Sommelier?

I had been a sommelier since 1994, and when I went after the master sommelier diploma, I really struggled. So many people meet resistance with the master som degree, and a lot of my peers were wondering why I wanted to do it. I said, I’m not doing this for you or for an employer, I’m not doing it to get a raise—I’m doing it for myself. So I kept plugging away. I joke that I think I spent more on my MS degree than on my college education.

How many tries did it take you to pass the exam? 

It took me six times. If you pass [the parts of] service and theory, you have two more tries to get through tasting, or you have to give up all the parts you’ve passed and take them again.

How did you train your palate to be able to pick up incredibly subtle nuances in wine? 

The hardest part is recalling your olfactory memory when you’re stressed out. So I developed a new technique. The six months before my last attempt, when I passed in 2004, I totally changed how I tasted. I began tasting red wines before whites, and it made it much easier for me.

Interesting. At wine tastings, you almost always taste white wines first.

Exactly. But I felt that I personally tasted the nuances of acidity in white better after I had the red, so at the exam I asked to taste that way. It worked for me, but it was a crazy idea.

Take us behind the scenes of the tasting part of the exam. 

You walk into a room and you have six wines in front of you; there are two master sommeliers in front of you and one taking notes behind you, writing down what you say. It’s you against the clock and you have 25 minutes to get it done. Say you’re tasting a white wine—before you came in, the master soms wrote down five flavors off the palate: lemon lime, cut grass, bell pepper, etc. Then they labeled it: alcohol medium, acidity high, length long, etc. So when you’re tasting, you name those elements, and they check off those boxes [on a tasting sheet] for you.

So you don’t need to give a description of say, “mustard seed,” to gain points. 

Right. Some people will try to use shotgun descriptors trying to get a point or two, but that’s not what they’re looking for.

What was the strangest thing you had to learn in order to pass the exam? For example, we heard you get to learn about Havana cigars…? 

Yes, I had to do a whole cigar service in London. But once I learned what I was getting into, I learned it was all relevant, learning those classic things. I mean, other than the Flagstaff House, there isn’t a restaurant in Boulder that has really old dishes, like beef rossini, or an old-school prep of fish—and those are the types of questions you get asked in service. A lot of young soms haven’t worked in an environment like that, and that becomes stranger and stranger for them.

Frasca Food and Wine

Do you feel that becoming a master sommelier was worth it in terms of running Frasca? 

Worth it? Totally. There are very few master sommeliers that run a restaurant, or at least that stay on the floor. The business is tough, and it’s a young person’s activity; for example, last Saturday night [August 13] we had our busiest night in seven years, and the older you get, the harder it is to put out that wattage every night.

We overheard you talking to a table of diners who asked you what your role was at Frasca and you joked, “I’m the head bus boy.” 

There’s a lot of people who don’t even think I own this place, and that’s my style—being part of the craft of the service. Being a master sommelier definitely helps me run this restaurant, because I’m better able to deal with those thresholds of effort.

How has earning this degree affected you personally? 

It makes me more empathetic. When Matthew, my employee, didn’t pass tasting this time, it was a lot easier for me to understand what he was going through. It’s nice to mentor younger people. It also teaches you humility. You see a lot of young sommeliers who are arrogant, but very rarely do you see a master sommelier who is arrogant.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot media, two media, three media, four

Newsosaur Alan D. Mutter always sparks insightful discourse on the journalism industry.

His post, "Time to Bring Back a P.M. News Product," highlights an idea similar to the one discussed at length in this month's Economist magazine: that "everything old is starting to look new again," that the way news was shared hundreds of years ago—by people in communities and coffee shops gossiping, sharing and even adding to the day's news—is reflected by today's social media hodgepodge.

Journalism started as a conversation; it's now returning to that state.

Also. My thoughts on Google+:

someecards.com - I can't wait for Google Plus to reunite me with everyone I blocked on Facebook.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I am writing short stories again


The art of interpreting.
The study of the theory and practice of interpretation.

A word can inspire a story can inspire an examination of self.

Thank you, Lorrie Moore, Jonathan Safran Foer, Julio Cortázar, and every other author who has inspired me to write outside of the linear.

The other day a stylist who was washing my hair said, "It's strange, your hair holds so much water. It turns pitch black."

Jump in
wet things
see what they dry like.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The outside making the inside safe

I have found a little sanctuary in Keystone, Colo. called Inxpot. I'm here on a mini-vacation, hiking and relaxing yet oddly surrounded by a Bacon festival and distracted by resort conversations like:

"He called me last night after he got pulled over on the way back to the hotel."
"But I thought he was walking back."
"He was. He got pulled over walking."

But everything is ok in here.

When I claim spots as sanctuaries, I mean that they satisfy both inner and outer aspects of the meaning: inside of my head and my outside surroundings. I need a blend of something, of music and intellect, a concoction of words and wind and movement, of quotes scrawled on walls—"Live where your friends will defend you, but never have to"—and of men alone reading with an intensity to not notice any of it. An outside space created to foster one's inner space.

Inxpot is part coffee shop, part bookshop and part bar. It really only has six full shelves of books, but somehow the diverse collection managed to keep me occupied for an hour and a half before I became inspired to write. Although it's situated in a resort, the café has managed to maintain an air of authenticity. And within that, I can be authentic to myself.

A confession: I haven't read in a while. Not really read—not sat down with a book and let it devour me, let it cloak me so people can't find me anymore until I am done with it. I have skimmed New Yorker articles with spotted interest; I have read Facebook updates with embarrassing voracity. I am worried about my brain. I have started to read articles about how our brains are changing and our attention span may be waning, but I cannot finish them before I move on to something else. I am worried about my brain.

Yet "I am worried" does not accurately reflect how I feel every day. I am so many things to myself and to so many people—and I love it, and it's scary to live this way, and I never admit that, but it is. When you build a thing of many different types of wood—pecan, maple, yellowheart—they must be soldered together with exquisite care to create a solid piece, or things can be unsteady and give you splinters when you rub yourself across their many lives within a life.

Taken with my awful iPhone 1 camera, but I am still so very excited!

A little over a week ago, I celebrated my four-year "crash-iversary," and I hiked my first Colorado 13er yesterday: Mt. Sniktau. I am so in love with Colorado and its mountains that it frightens me. I have never come back to live in a place after leaving it. I have never annoyed so many people with how much I love a place before, but I figure those who are left will be as enamored with life as I am—the ones who will defend me but never have to—and those are the people I build my wood-woven existence with.

And sometimes I need to find a sanctuary like this café, where I can remember that I am safe. Sometimes it's a teahouse, or a rose garden, or a spot on the earth where I can weave grass through my hair, green-brown life threadings, my heart starting and stopping, feeling the in-between of things—and I can feel that it's safe inside there too, because I make it that way.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Love Song to Vancouver

I am still
plump, loaf-risen
Pink and tender
from rubbing myself

What caves do we crawl in when we play like

What are these holes in the universe
I am attuned to finding and spreading open
to dance in where there is no light?

I stand, look at you
from where the rain has
caressed lightly like fingers
the fallen cherry blossoms,
trying to soak them back to life
but they lie, love-
ridden, ladled with the scent of

You see,
It is in the

My legs are like a cricket's
as I burst from the center
into song.

The psychometry of books

I confess that there is in my book hunts and book passions something pretty close to hoarding the hair of martyrs and the sweat of saints. My books are a private altar. They are a source of strength and a place of worship. I see no reason to refuse to bend the knee.

Close the shutters and turn up the lamp. The room is full of voices.

—Jeanette Winterson, "Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Beware of misquotes on the Internet." —Abraham Lincoln

If you tried Googling the quote, "I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy," yesterday, it wouldn't even matter that you were trying to verify its accuracy.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. quote circulating Twitter and Facebook with regards to Osama bin Laden's death was fake, but it wouldn't make any difference if you were hunting for the truth. Google would have only turned up hundreds of results that told you one thing:

He must have said it. (And if you "like" it, it must be even truer!)

The rest of the quote, "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that," MLK Jr. actually did write in his book, "Strength to Love."

But the first, oddly a propos line? It was written by a girl named Jessica Dovey, who wrote it correctly, attributing MLK's words to him and hers to herself. The people who reposted it were the ones who started the status update version of the game of "telephone."

But—it's not about the quote.

It's not that I want to badger all of my Facebook friends who blindly reposted it or spend my entire morning stabbing everyone's status update with the butcher knife of truth, ranting about misinformation and social media sheep herds.

What bothers me is that most people didn't care—not before they posted to see if it was accurate, not that all Google results were clearly showing only one day of results, not even after I or someone else would write that it was inaccurate.

In our age of misinformation, compiled with the belief that the younger generation doesn't give a crap about real news and has a "majority rules" mindset—this is not ok. We've created technology that allows us to invent truth and base its worthiness on quantity—on the number of times it's retweeted, the number of people who "like" it, the amount of hits it gets.

We, as Ted Koppel puts it (originally in a Washington Post column, "The Case Against News We Can Choose," and also here), "are no longer a national audience receiving news from a handful of trusted gatekeepers; we’re now a million or more clusters of consumers, harvesting information from like-minded providers."

My friend Annie shared a kinder perspective: when people's emotions run high, logic and reason go out the door. No one bothered to check if Martin Luther King Jr. actually said he wouldn't rejoice in the death of even one man; it just resonated with people so deeply that they didn't care if he said it or not. The majority of Facebook and Twitter users agreed he said it—so he did.

Megan McArdle says it best in her article on The Atlantic's website:
We become invested in these quotes because they say something important about us—and they let us feel that those emotions were shared by great figures in history. We naturally search for reasons that they could have said it—that they could have felt like us—rather than looking for reasons to disbelieve. If we'd put the same moving words in Hitler's mouth, everyone would have been a lot more skeptical. But while this might be a lesson about the need to be skeptical, I don't think there's anything stupid about wanting to be more like Dr. King.
TakuanSoho, a reader who commented on McArdle's article, speaks from a psychological standpoint and calls it "cognitive dissonance on display," noting that people feel something they can't articulate, and so they latch onto a quote from someone they admire and use it as a rhetoric device to defend their belief in the sentiment.

I say: cheers to Jessica—for speaking her own mind.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Overheard: reminders from writers

I'm sitting at Trident Café (as I do often) overhearing an interview between two male writers and an author named Sara.

When one of the writers asks her why she moved to Boulder, she says that she had been in Thailand wondering where to move next, and as she was doing yoga looking out her window, an intense wave of feeling washed over her and she saw Boulder. She saw the mountains.

"My sister was living [here] and I called her and said, 'Don't tell anyone, but I'm going to ship all my things from Thailand to you and I'm moving there.'"

When asked how she felt about Boulder, Sara replies:
"It's felt like a really good incubation place to write my book, to connect with a lot of other like-minded people, to have access to great teachers, to have access to nature—which is one of my great teachers—and to really strengthen myself internally and externally."
This is the point when I find out she was diagnosed with an illness; I'm not sure which.

Sara is a runner, yoga practitioner, meditator, hiker. It seems her book focuses on the idea of exercise helping to self-heal.

"I have a lot of fire energy, and I like to turn that inward to heal myself," she says.

I look at her more closely; she is beautiful. Healthy. Strong.

"I don't regret how things happen," she says. "I'm not a victim."

Thank you, Ms. Unknown Writer, for the reminders.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Creating for creating: portable sacred space for artists on the go

"Creativity, like many things, gives back when you use it." (Molly O'Keefe)

I was in Paris when I met Roberto. He spoke five languages, introduced me to neighborhood markets and bourgeois bars, and attempted to teach me tango (although I was too faint with awe at that point to remember any steps). He was writing a lengthy research paper about impoverished neighborhoods of Paris, and told me that in order to have time to write, he brought his laptop on his hour-long train commute.

“Even if I only get one perfect sentence out of it—it's worth it,” he said.

Modern writers, artists and other creatives wonder how sacred creative space can fit within a fairly commute-oriented work life. Author Kelly L. Stone writes that when we make space for creating, it naturally becomes a safe and comfortable place for one's muse to emerge. Much like a Pavlovian response, simply going into the space will energize the creative process.

But what can we do when our lives don’t allow us to sit home all day and create?

Believe it or not, we can assemble a portable version of a sacred space in the form of supplies: bags, drawing tools, notebooks, folders. It sounds simple, but your mind will help your muse along. It’s all about ritual and repetition.

Here are some ideas for coaxing out your traveling muse:

  • designate a notebook only for your creative ideas. Don’t write to-do lists in it (that's what your planner is for) or phone numbers. Make it sacred and it will give back to you.
  • get a large purse or handbag and put all of your creative materials in that bag. Find a few things (quotes, photos, drawings) that are motivational to you and keep you on your path and throw ‘em in.
  • for days when you’re feeling uninspired, include a token of your past success. For my business partner, Heather, this is easy; she can take an actual bag. For me, I would take a writing contract or a clip of a published article I’m particularly proud of.

The important part is the power of association you’ll create almost effortlessly each time you use your traveling sacred space for its purpose. You can be anywhere; it can involve coffee or Chardonnay (like perhaps it is for me right now...). It can even be on a noisy, crowded train in Paris. If you’ve decided that this is your creation time and make it a ritual—that’s what it will be.

Note to Boulder/Denver folks: check this out. It's a free, Denver-wide, creative-space-finder (who knew?) for artists in the area.

And let me know your secrets—how do you create your sacred artistic space?

Note: I wrote the original version of this article for the local Boulder-based eco-company, English Retreads.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Key lime pie and that is all except for the so much more

My ex always used to bring me water. Before bed, at a café, wherever—but at night was when it mattered. He did it half-asleep once, in the hours when there is no light, only feet peddling against sheets. Then he drank all of it and got up again to get more. There was never any question.

I carried a key lime pie around my house tonight. For several hours, without eating it.

I carried it from its Whole Foods' bag in the kitchen into my room where I called my ex. He talked, I listened, then I saw the pie sitting on my desk chair. I began to get angry; he was standing in the way of me and my pie. I hung up.

Instead of getting my pie, I almost immediately called another ex. I stopped. I examined why I flew down this reactionary, pie-less path. I got out my journal to write about it.

I wrote, then started creating something that could be a big something. It was going to be called The Purpose Project, but it might not be because of this and these guys. It will be something else. It's in my journal now gestating, growing limbs.

I noticed the pie was still on my chair, but now I had to go to the bathroom. I took my pie into the bathroom, which I realize is gross. It sat on my sink for a while, until I realized I hadn't written in my blog for quite some time, since before the ex was an ex. I brought the pie to my bed, where it is now sitting next to me as I type, looking soggy and more like lemon key pie.

But I am writing. In journals and on keyboards. I am creating although it is just me right now, me and my Monday nights and stacks of books and long, dusty brain-hallways. But how sweet and pie-worthy it all is.

I am eating my pie now. I am thirsty. But I am going to keep eating.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Download your mind: eco-friendly paper planners that reconcile aesthetics and sustainability

Yesterday, a frazzled friend came into my office, which is not really an office but a conference room in an office building that I sneak into.

“My brain can’t fit anything else! 8x10 papers are scattered all over my office!” he cried. He actually does have an office, so I imagined this to be a problem.

I told him to buy a planner, and showed him mine. I don’t know what I’d do without it. I’ve been using a variety of year-long paper planners for the last 15 years, although I have a Macbook, iPad, iPhone and, practically, an iChip embedded in my brain (I was once nearly kicked out of a Nokia store when my iChip decided to make a theatrical, impromptu sales pitch to my new-phone-buying friend...). But when it comes to planning—can’t use ‘em. I need paper.

Last July, I even bought an 18-month planner, because my friend Debbie wanted me to be her bridesmaid in 18 months, which is a ridiculous time commitment to expect someone to remember. But she knew me when I was four when I didn't have any friends, so I did it for her. I’m unsure of what country I’ll be living in at that time, but I know I’ll be posing for pictures in a maroon dress in New Jersey on July 16. And she has my Moleskine to thank.

I’ve always needed a paper planner. I need something tactile, something I can doodle in, a canvas for creativity amidst structure and lines. I love to smell the paper, feel the weight of ink on them, feel how tangibly heavier the past is than the future. With a paper planner, it’s all embodied, with an open and close and a whole life inside.

People go nuts over their planners. They write long blog posts about choosing a planner based on what could be labeled as complicated algorithms, complete with pro/con lists, numerical scoring and charts. Another lady writes romantically about the luscious feel and sound of paper and the interactive nature of flipping pages versus scrolling over a digital screen.

For myself and many others, paper planners are the way to go. But is it sustainable? How can I reconcile my love of paper and be eco-friendly?

I’ve done some research so you can rest easy (and subsequently mark and check off that you rested easy). These two are great to grab when you want to be conscious of both the environment and your next yoga/therapy/work meeting:

  • EcoSystem planners each have their own unique ID number, which can be used to track the book's origins, learn about its environmentally-friendly roots, and find out exactly how to recycle each planner. They utilize New Leaf Imagination, a production effort that creates materials made with 100% post-consumer waste. They’re also pretty and colorful; “green doesn’t have to be brown” is their motto.
  • The Quo Vadis Equology planner is made with chlorine-free, FSC-recycled, alkaline/neutral paper (quite a mouthful). And apparently they “invented” the concept of Weekly Time Management. In 1954, the founder of the company, a French doctor named F.G. Beltrami, sketched a grid on a notebook, and voila, planning would never be the same.

As for my friend? He decided to go with iCal. At least my iChip is still firing.

Note: The original version of this article was written for the local Boulder-based eco-company, English Retreads. It can be found here. You should consider buying a purse from them, as they are astoundingly awesome.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sip coffee. Start a business. Enjoy wild cookie infatuation.

Things lately:

1) My very own business was born four days ago, and it is already crawling, talking and making Facebook status updates. My company is called Dynamic Expression, LLC and it is an Aquarius born slightly after the New Moon.

My business is about infusing fun and finesse into people's professional products—whether they be print media or online publications. I am a merging of worlds. I really just want to play chess and stroke my beard but I must realize I’m 27 in 2011 someday, and it might as well be today.

I went to a gathering of creative minds called "Think and Drink" that night and talked about my company over a glass of wine, and over the next two glasses I talked about other things I do not remember, except that I roughly edited someone when they added an "s"—Dynamic Expressions NO—to my company name.

2) After I started my company in about an hour using just two websites (the Colorado Secretary of State page and the IRS site—don't ever pay anyone to start you a company, it is so simple and satisfying to do it yourself), I went to the bank at 5:50 p.m, ten minutes before closing.

I whirled in and luckily encountered a jovial woman named Jennifer, who told me she wanted to start her own small business walking dogs. I told her to go for it!!! with many exclamation marks. She then asked what my opening deposit would be.

I hadn't thought this far.

I looked in my wallet and took out a faded bill.

"Does $1 work?" I asked.

She began to nod slowly, then faster as she noticed my exuberance, and the exclamation marks in my eyes shot toward her once more.

The next day I went in with my first check from a client and she photocopied it so I could keep it for posterity. She told me she was thinking of me the night before and feeling inspired, and she said she hoped Dynamic Expression does well. With one "s."

3) My sister Kristi had a baby girl named Emi recently, and I think of her every day, and how I want her to be a happy pretty baby, because other impressive adjectives don't come when I see her happy pretty face, only the desire to hold her. Little baby girls float into my consciousness a lot lately, and I wish I could borrow one from time to time and give her love.

At brunch on Saturday morning at the Mercantile Cafe in Jamestown, where I sipped enough coffee to keep me awake until today, a 9-year-old boy ran up to my table. He was dressed like a tiny red pirate. He bent down and put his hand in his rubber boot and rapidly pulled up a tape measure. I am assuming he was trying to show me how tall he was, however I could see no numbers and he said nothing to me; he was a very stoic tape-measure displayer. Then he ran away without a word.

I sipped. Wondered how tall I was now, if I ever even owned a tape measure, or a rubber boot. Then I noticed his 2-year-old sister eating a cookie and subsequently hopping up and down wildly in her chair in sheer delight. Yes! This I relate to.

4) I've been spending a lot of time in Trident coffeehouse. There are old men here who read books on how to improve their game at bridge. Today I sat by the wood-burning heater and talked with Ian, the man who brought me to Boulder. When he left, I moved to a booth where someone had gifted wet rose petals to the table. I am still here, staring at the spot across the room where I created my business on Thursday, while I listened to people discussing the latest issue of the New Yorker. Somewhere in the café, a man is singing opera softly and people are playing Scrabble not on an iPad but in its original form.

I am curmudgeoning and modernizing simultaneously.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

R e l a t i o n s h i p

When you are little, you have boyfriends and girlfriends, and you call this a relationship. You go through that, think it is fun. Perhaps you will collect multiple of these? So you have another, and another, a relationship in the wholeness of the word, the beautiful simplicity, the non-dissectedness of it. Relationship. Fun!

Then you have another, and you are larger and have another, and the word grows—and becomes scary. It's growing bigger and you're growing bigger and relationship needs to mean more, but it is still just one thing. Just one word—so why this opening and closing, and then a deeper closing because of the deep opening, and then the deepest closing you didn't think you were capable of? Because you haven't figured it out yet, you haven't learned the secret. Relationship is playing with you now, because you think you have met it, but it has been giggling at you from behind its secret the whole time, Wizard of Oz-like.

And then one day you meet someone. And you realize.

You look at the word again. Turn it upside down, with him. Spread it out, spread yourself out further than you thought you could. There are things inside you never saw before.

Now you see an r. And an a. And a ship and an elation. And it's all there, and it's so grand and powerful that you are so small on this ship with your elation, and your ions and your re. And you look around at this new world, and wow.


This is huge.

And fun!

Monday, January 24, 2011

There is no such thing as a grown-up

Today I was working on my computer at Whole Foods and someone ran up to my table. And stared at me. And giggled. And stood there for 10 minutes smiling, marveling at me all the same whether or not I looked back, whether I hid behind my laptop or popped out from behind it, whether I told him not to touch the dirty strawberry on the ground or complimented his neat cookie-eating style. Sometimes he'd wiggle a bit, still smiling.

Ah, to be as close to the heart as he is.