Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You May Now Kiss The Bride

I've attended my share of weddings. Each emphasized different colors or themes or music or vows, but all shared one phrase: "You may now kiss the/your bride." Have you ever wondered about the origin of this particular famous sentence? Well, curious or not, I'll share my findings. Like many aspects of American speech (how very encyclopedia, no?), this phrase dates back to Roman rule when many contracts were sealed with a kiss. This particular kiss, however, served a dual purpose. First, it allowed the groom to see if his bride had been sampling the wine. Yes, really. Second, this kiss proved to the witnesses present the couple's faith in one another. Apparently, it was something like a romantic twist on a business handshake. I find this fascinating.

The best part of looking into this matter proved to be the great offense some take to the gender specific role of kiss initiation. It seems many women are offended by the notion their new husband is the one called upon to make the first move in this public display of affection. There are blog-style forums about it. I'm afraid many of the arguments lost their potency in a slough of ridiculous sentences. "Where did all these traditional lines come from anyway... did someone make them up a hundred years ago or something?" Insightful. Better yet: "...we wait to hear 'I now prononuce you man and wife (hysterically sexist!)' and 'you may kiss the bride'. I think that the origins are insulting but anymore it's so second nature that it's silly and almost sentimentally sweet!!" Ah, yes. Nothing like sticking to your principles in all matters save those which leave you feeling warm and Snuggie-fuzzy. Oh, we're a non-committal bunch, aren't we?

Personally, I like the idea of a strapping young man sweeping me off my feet in front of a room-full. I no more want to do the sweeping than I want to buy the ring.


A thought a occurred to me as I sat on the carpeted floor of my room. Perhaps it had something to do with my perspective having shifted closer to the ground or my overactive morning brain, but a floor covered in un-washable fibers suddenly seemed gross. Really gross. Sure, I could vacuum. I could take extra precaution to avoid wearing shoes inside. I could spray Febreeze. But all of these options do not alter the spills or the toddler residue.

Then again, I've grown up with the stuff. Carpeting makes a more comfortable bedroom than does hard flooring. Really, it's a similar to that favorite pair of jeans you may not wash with appropriate regularity. Comfort trumps style in a bedroom, right? My feet are happy. And who doesn't want happy feet?

Monday, August 30, 2010


This week, I considered writing an article on eating vegan style. I considered vegans today as I ate my Greek yogurt (with Nutella and blueberries), and the more I considered the sadder I became. Were I living such a lifestyle, Greek yogurt would prove taboo. I checked the Nutella label only to find it contains skim milk. No Nutella, either, then. Were I a vegan today, I would have eaten only blueberries for a snack. So I attempted a vegan lunch of lentil vegetable soup. It lacked something. I rectified the situation with a neat little plate of turkey and cheese saltines. Nothing vegan about it.

But then I probed further. My morning toast, tuna fish or turkey sandwiches, pita bread, eggs, sharp cheddar cheese, pizza, chicken noodle soup--all of these would fall into the taboo category. How devastating! What would steel cut oatmeal be without the creamy factor provided by the milk? No cappuccinos? No more fish tacos? Goodbye Mellow Mushroom? Well, bump that. New article topic. I love my dairy, fish, and meat more than I realized.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

That whole grass is greener mentality is innate. I'm certain of it. A few mornings a week, I watch the neighbor's little girl in addition to Miss Bug (anonymity is key in online writing). Now they're both able to run all about the house and communicate pretty effectively, they entertain one another. Scratch that. They entertain me.

One of my favorite scenarios I get to witness every visit is the trading of the sippy cups. You may not be aware of this, but spill-proof cups, much like all products available at Target, come in an array of models. One child has a traditional sippy cup, the sort with two handles and a lid that requires the user to tip it back for a drink, and the other has a straw of the bite-down-and-then-sip type, like a CamelPack. Each girl proficiently uses her own cup, but, when taking a milk break together, neither is content to drink her own milk. They trade. Every time. Funny part? Neither girl can use the other's cup. So there they sit, frustrated to the point of fussiness, unable to drink, and refusing to take back their original cups. It's a phenomenon they will undoubtedly repeat with ill-fitting but cute shoes belonging to their roommates. An oddity I've come to realize as a fact. It's just plain female.

Friday, August 20, 2010


As a general guideline, Americans work demanding schedules. We have a lot of things to support, right? Hence the basis for the standardization of caffeine addiction. The busier the city, the more Starbucks you will find. New York City, for instance, has one on nearly ever block. Apparently, we need consistent afternoon jolts. Why don't we just take naps every day after lunch? Spain and Latin American countries do it. Their culture predates ours pretty significantly. So do the nap-time practices of Albania, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, India, Iran, Italy (southern), Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, North Africa, Pakistan, the Philippines, Serbia, Slovenia, Taiwan and Vietnam. Perhaps there's a lesson here.

Too bad sleep is deemed such a waste of time in our society. It's downright unhealthy.

I sip Earl Grey tea as I type this. Such the product of my surroundings!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Second Chances

Watched 17 Again earlier today. It's one of those feel good with a side of popcorn kind of films (Who am I kidding? Any movie merits popcorn). Perhaps it isn't box office gold, but I like it. I like most movies that involve second chances at life, the kind that throw the protagonist in the midst of what his life could have been or has become to refresh his perspective. Re-start films.

Why are these so darn popular? Why do they always rewind to high school or college? This time line should scare the younger of us. It means we're making the decisions right now that impact the rest of our lives. And we don't get a do-over. We're defining who we will become through our actions today. Sure, we can realize mistakes down the line and pinpoint where we made them, but no one hands us a fresh slate. We have to admit our wrongs and pick up the pieces from wherever reality hits us.

So why not train to be who we dream we will become now? Because it will take training; it will not simply happen on our twenty-eighth or thirty-fifth or whichever-is-the-magic-number birthdays. Now is the time to learn the balance between wise decisions and risks, realities and dreams. That faith you hope you have when you're all grown up? Pursue it now. That book you want to write? The fitness level you highlighted in Self or Men's Health? That move you wish you made? Pursue them now. Second chances are a rarity and, sometimes, simply the stuff of screenplays. Don't expect them. Live today as the person you hope to be ten years from now. Ask for encouragement when you need it.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Asheville and I click. If I held a more mystical perspective, I'd say my being born there left an imprint on me, but that sounds superstitious. I tend to hold to the theory I simply love its atmosphere. It's a blend of everything, a cross-section of culture uncommon in the South--something akin to Little Five Points and Boulder simmered with San Francisco and reduced by half. Naturally, this yields a peculiar taste which isn't for everyone (my granddad says its full of neo-hippies). I happen to adore it.

My perfect weekend here would loosely follow this plan: I'd arrive around lunchtime Friday and drop by Earth Fare for their cafe offerings (paninis, rotissere chicken salad, cookies that somehow maintain firm "skin" and meltingly soft centers) and next-day snacks, beeline to the hotel, get settled, and throw on my Keens for a stroll through town. I'd wander in and out of shops, talking to the proprietors if they're up for a conversation. They often have the best stories regarding their wares. One local owner told me he researched his store's clothing ten years before deciding what to stock. His t-shirts boast intelligent, creative screen print. No cheap squirrel guarding a pile of acorns. Of course I'd run into the Chocolate Fetish for an ancient pleasures truffle (Homer meant this when he spoke of ambrosia--cayenne pepper dark chocolate ganache inside a spiced chocolate shell and dusted with cocoa) and The Spice and Tea exchange. They offer four varieties of mustard, a hearty English Breakfast, and my dad's new favorite, the smoky lapsong suchong. Late afternoon calls for a cafe stop. World Coffee offers an excellent homemade pastries, sandwiches, and loose-leaf tea selection, while Double Decker Coffee Co is situated on the corner of Biltmore and Aston and housed in a refurbished double decker bus. The barista told me, as she made me a cappuccino, the bus once held party-ers in 1970s Atlanta before someone pulled it from retirement to play host to caffeine lovers. Coffee and tea shops dot the street corners. One day I'll try them all and remember more of their names. After a day of strolling, I'd happily end up at Chai Pai Indian Street food, the most flavor packed seven bucks you've ever spent. Try more than one thing, of course. That's the point of street food. Purchase their cream, cooling raita as a dip for the naan. You'll need both to cool the aftermath of samosas or tandoori chicken. Go for the tandoori fish wrap; the tilapia-spice combination they use yields a fish so tender you'll believe the wrap is the only thing maintaining its composure.

Saturday ought to begin with the Early Girl Eatery, one of my favorite breakfast places. They offer everything from scrupulously healthy to bacon and biscuits, and I haven't sampled a thing I didn't enjoy. Their granola and yogurt induces impromptu humming. Off to the Biltmore Estate next! I've toured the house several times, so I'd most likely stick to the grounds. And the winery. Remember that Earth Fare trip from the day before? Time for a picnic amongst America's most beautiful yard. By yard I mean an 8,000 acre estate composed of forest, delicately structured gardens, and terraced mountain views. Sit to the side of the monstrous house and watch the other tourists comment on the size of the place. Remember, after soaking in the Vanderbilt's creativity, Asheville's replete with creative expression--take advantage! The rest of my Saturday would be spent haunting art exhibits, local theaters, and few more cafes to sit and journal my impressions of it all. Wander.

Sunday? I'd start with Brugger's Bagels for their quick pace, rich coffee, and, of course, chewy New York style bagels. They don't find me peculiar when asking to sub peanut butter for cream cheese. They're used to health nuts more hardcore than I'd ever like to be. I'd proceed to whichever church caught my interest (I have yet to try one), then have lunch wherever looked appealing in my travels on Friday, probably one of the cafes or Green Source for a quick bite. The rest of the afternoon? I'd spend it on foot. Asheville's nestled amongst some of the best hiking in the Southeast. Chimney Rock, blazing your own trail, or tours of the parks. Hike, climb trees, hike, and jump from rock to rock in one of the creeks until I couldn't take anymore. Off to the hotel for a warm shower next, then I'd venture to Amici Trattoria for a long, quiet, slightly expensive dinner. Bill paid and tirmasu gone to a happy place, I'd jump in the car with my iPod set to shuffle, crusing home in time to read a chapter before bed.

Doesn't that sound idyllic? I couldn't fit it all in this weekend. Sometime soon, sometime soon.

Sweet Tea

Perhaps it's growing up as a traditional Southern girl, but I'm accustomed to manners overkill. While etiquette is important and warrants preservation, Southern ladies jump to the extreme. The Stepford effect. I've seen it in myself several times in my role as hostess--uncomfortable niceness. In some houses it's broaching the border of eerie, like overly sweet tea. And heaven forbid we say anything overtly negative! Better to adopt a pleasant tone, spread a buttery smile over your face, and fake it than address the situation as it truly is. Watch Steel Magnolias or Fried Green Tomatoes. You'll see.

No, utter honesty in the heat of emotion isn't a good goal, either. Some sort of balance is worth the practice, I think.