Category Archives: Mamas and Papas

New York, We Have to Talk…

New York and I have had a good run. For more years than I’d care to admit, we’ve been really happy together.

I’ve had plenty of those Only-in-NY Moments. Take, for example, the homeless guy who peed in an empty bag of potato chips on the E train on my morning commute once. Or the Michael Jackson birthday party in Prospect Park. Stuff like that doesn’t happen anywhere else…and I guess there’s a sort of pride attached to it when you live here and you get to go to those things because you’ve made a conscious decision to be here.

I’ve had my fair share of celebrity sightings: Dianne Wiest, Gabriel Byrne (we live in the same ‘hood — he used to go to Cafe Scaramouche before it became Buttermilk Channel), Debra Messing, Uma Thurman, Steve Buscemi, Chase Crawford, Mario Cantone, and that tall guy from Law & Order SVU. Denny Doherty of the Mamas and the Papas starred in the musical that was performing at the theater where I worked my first summer in New York. And I interviewed the Naked Cowboy once…and had “Hi Lisa, it’s Naked…” on my voicemail for a really long time.

I’ve had some really good times here and I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and I’m so, so glad I did that big, scary thing and moved here by myself all those years ago.

And for a long time — whether because of work or school or my own personal dramas — I’ve sort of been gliding along here. I built myself a home. And for the first time since California circa 1994, I’ve felt like there’s this one place in the world where I belong. And, sure, I hate the uncertainty of freelancing and wish things had turned out differently post-J-school, but…for the most part, I’ve been fine. Sure, it’s a busy place that sucks a lot out of you…and I always looked forward to escaping to Alaska because it’s pretty much the exact opposite of New York in every way and I could actually slow down for a bit and breathe in new surroundings and see places that were untouched by virtually anything and come back feeling like I could face everything again.

No more Alaska though — this year I went to Arizona and New Mexico. The trip had about the same effect, I guess…but returning to New York in July was the first time I haven’t actually been excited about coming back. Usually I can’t wait to get back to my apartment and my life. But I didn’t feel that way this year. And, for the first time, I started noticing things that never bothered me before — it’s dirty; it’s crowded; it’s full of egomaniacs.

Then I went away again — and the same thing happened upon my return. I just don’t feel the same about being here anymore. And somewhere along the way in either Colorado or Illinois on my *next* trip, it hit me: I think I’m ready to leave New York. I’m happier when I’m not here.

And, granted, it’s not exactly reality when I’m away because I don’t have to spend eight, ten, twelve hours in front of a computer writing asset management stories or applying for jobs or pitching freelance ideas or working on the Great American Novel (…or copywriting)…so maybe it isn’t entirely fair to blame unhappiness directly on New York. But, at the same time, I’ve done some freelance work while I’ve been away…and I still think it’s safe to say I’m happier in other places. (A New York friend even observed that I look happier in the photos on Facebook that were taken in other cities…)

Last weekend was my first weekend back in a long time. And I made lasagna and empanadas (which turned out BEAUTIFUL because I watched one of the chefs at Xoco very, very carefully and tried to mimic what she did…). And I realized how happy cooking makes me. (That’s one bad thing about so much traveling — I haven’t really cooked much.) I don’t really have the budget or the appetite to cook every day…but on those days that I do, the act itself always makes me happy…which sort of begs the question of culinary school, but that’s a whole other can of worms I’m not really ready to open yet. (Plus, writing still makes me happier than anything. So, ideally, I’ll be able to forge out a living combining the two someday…)

For now, I’m expanding my job search…and we’ll see what happens. (It’s never a bad thing to have additional options, right?) If I get my dream job in New York, I’ll stay. I’ll put up with insane rent and try to make an agent fall in love with my book proposal and maybe someday I’ll be on The View telling the ladies what a rough spot it was in ’08-’09 before my life really took off.

Or…maybe the reason nothing has worked out here is because I’m not meant to stay. Maybe I should really be somewhere else. (The problem is that my life is in so many places…I don’t know where to go. For a long time I’ve said that I think my wedding will be the only day in my life when everyone I love is actually in the same place. Although I guess the glass-is-half-full spin is that I could really go anywhere. And that got me thinking about how happy I was when I lived in England…and that it’s crazy that I haven’t been back in seven years…so I think a trip to London is imminent.)

The sort of depressing part is that job opportunities didn’t expand exponentially when I started looking across the country. There is a pretty darn good one in Dallas…and a sort of okay one in Denver…but other than that, I really haven’t seen anything. (So…maybe it’ll be culinary school after all, eh?)

Nevertheless, I spent the good part of a morning this week looking at apartments in Dallas and realized that for less than half of what I am paying now, I could get an apartment with an actual bedroom and a dishwasher and a washer/dryer and access to pools and fitness centers and all sorts of crazy stuff. And I could finally get a golden retriever! (I even looked at breeders in Texas and found one that traced the lineage of its puppies on its Web site and the father of a litter that was due last September was related somewhere along the line to a dog named Miss Racey Lacey. Gotta be some sort of sign, right?)

If I was still exceedingly happy in New York…or if I was even taking advantage of living here anymore, I wouldn’t be looking beyond its limits. But I think I’m ready for a change. And now all I have to do is figure out what that actually means.

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My Poor Little Oven, a Musician in my Midst, the New Adam Sandler Movie, and a Fish with a Funny Name

I am also giving my oven quite a workout today after a three-week reprieve.

On my list? Two all-time favorites: Artichoke and Mushroom Lasagna (which I probably don’t have to remind you is what won my mother the Silver Spatula in her office lasagna bake-off) and Bell Pepper, Red Onion and Goat Cheese Pizza.

I did a big shopping trip today to amass all the necessary ingredients…and when I got home I realized I had forgotten the mozzarella, so I had to go all the way back. But! While I was walking down Smith Street again, I saw a balding man with a whole bunch of kids who looked suspiciously like Dave Matthews. I must have sort of done a tiny doubletake because he looked at me and smiled. When I got home, I Googled him and learned that he has three kids, including twin daughters…and there were two little girls with my Smith Street friend who totally looked like they were about five or six years old. So! I am convinced it was him.

Also? Wikipedia says he is in the new Adam Sandler movie. Do you know who *else* is in the new Adam Sandler movie? You’ve listened to me go on and on about my very first job in NY at the Mamas and the Papas musical, no doubt (I know a guy who’s on a cruise to Nova Scotia right now…which also made me nostalgic for the Ms & Ps…)…and it just so happens that a guy I worked with there has since moved to LA and *stars* in the new Adam Sandler movie as a skeezy landlord. So! This could be the first time in my life that I see an Adam Sandler movie in the theater. (It’s for Rick! I swear!)

I also think it’s kind of funny that I have such an itsy bitsy oven in Brooklyn…and yet this is where I have all sorts of inspiration to bake stuff. When I was at home and had access to my mother’s super-nice whiz-bang oven, I hardly had any motivation whatsoever. Poor Mom. She wanted brownies or apricot pie…or *something*…and yet I didn’t make anything at all. Actually — tell a lie. I *tried* to make brownies, but I thought she was out of butter. Who knew she had a whole mess of it in the freezer? (And, in my defense, there is more than one freezer. They had to buy one for the garage when she caught her 80-pound halibut. And, no, I didn’t catch *any* fish when I was gone. I *almost* caught a Dolly Varden…but by the time our guide figured out that it actually was a fish we could take with us, the little bugger got away. Catch and release?)

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Filed under Alaska, chocolate, entrees, Mamas and Papas, pasta, pie

Salt-n-Pepa

The significance of these salt and pepper shakers may be lost on you (if you can even tell that they are salt and pepper shakers)…BUT they just so happen to be from Alaska and Georgia, two of the seven states I have called home. And they were just sitting on the table at a Tribeca restaurant when I met a friend recently and freaked out a little.

Fun fact: the only person I know who has *also* lived in these states was my very first boss at my very first job in NYC (hint: “Each night before you go to bed, my baby / Whisper a little pray for me, my baby…”).

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I’ve been trying to catch up with my friend Bob…

…who was actually my boss at the Mamas and the Papas musical…

It’s been a really long time since I’ve seen him…but he and I used to do brunch all the time (post-Denny, Cass, John and Michelle…).

So…he was one of the people I wrote during my e-mail blitz…

His response?

“Let’s talk next week about where to meet up…John, ‘my beau,’ might come with us to brunch. You’ll like him. Especially since you are Betty Crocker Gal!”

I’m not quite sure what Betty Crocker has to do with it…although, if memory serves, John owns a hot dog stand (perhaps in the LES??) and has been there for years and years…so maybe the hot dog stand has a good dessert menu??

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Google Knew!

So…things have been a little floopy lately as I transition from one phase of my life to another…and I’ve been more apt to freak out than usual simply because there’s more stuff to freak out about right this red, hot minute. And my real honest-to-God schedule doesn’t kick in until the week after next, so everything’s been all over the map and I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and bake or blog…or even e-mail for that matter (which is unheard of for me).

However…this weekend I’m trying to catch up a little…and since baking is one of the few things that can really calm me, I decided I had to make something or risk being a huge neurotic mess indefinitely.

Coincidentally, I’ve been introducing myself to a lot of people lately and I’ve been making small talk with a lot of people lately…and since we’re all writers, the question inevitably arises about what exactly we want to write about when all is said and done. And this means I’ve been talking about baking and food writing a lot lately…and people usually ask if there’s anything in particular that I like to bake…and so I usually say pie (and sometimes I also mention the contest and the blog…but not always).

So…since I’ve been talking about pies so much lately, I felt compelled to bake one of the apple variety this weekend. And when I checked my e-mail today lo and behold there was a sponsored link that said: “Funny Quote of the Day – Carl Sagan‘In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe.'”

(This is what Google knew…)

My pie is in the oven now…and I have to admit I feel immensely calmer. Something about all the slicing (I used an apple corer in combination with Feemster’s famous slicer for the first time…and totally could have gotten away without using a knife at all had one of the apples not been a bit lopsided, causing the corer to cut it funny…and there were some seeds and stuff on some of the pieces) and measuring and creating always makes me feel better…I should remember this when everything feels daunting and impossible. I made chocolate chip cookies last weekend…which I suppose also had the desired affect. (Chocolate chip cookies are sort of the original Lisa baked good – I’ve been making those since I was a kid. Although the problem with them is that they’re never as good as they are on the first day – even if you microwave them. So I find myself gorging myself on them on the first day…simply because I know they’ll never be the same.)

I also finally used up a jar of cinnamon I’ve had forever…(which I think is actually ever since I moved to New York and was living in my old apartment), I was working at the Mamas and the Papas musical at the time along with my roommate…and remember baking a pie once to take to one of the shows. My roommate hated cinnamon…so I literally had to say, “Of course I won’t put any cinnamon in it!” and then sprinkle like mad when he wasn’t looking. So…that jar served me well. (And luckily I had a spare around the house!)

Fast forward four years…and my apartment smells so nice right now! But I don’t really know what to do with this pie though. I *suppose* I can always wolf it down myself in moments of crisis and self-doubt this week…but I do kind of miss conjuring up any ol’ excuse to make something and bring it to work the next day. I’m sure my classmates would also be appreciative…but somehow it feels different – almost brown-nosey – to bring in baked goods to class.

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From Out of the Blue…

I heard yesterday from an old friend who I met at my very first job in New York – that is, ushering at the now-defunct Mamas and Papas musical. We’ll call him Marty. He says he reappeared after months and months because he’s going to Alaska this weekend. So…we were catching up and I was telling him about my blog and so on and so forth and he filled me in on his comings and goings over the last few months? Years? It’s been a long time.

I knew he could beatbox, but it turns out that Marty is also quite the air guitarist. Last May, he won a regional air guitar competition and then went on to place third in the national competition. He described himself as an “oily bohunk” in his act…and after a little research on the good ol‘ World Wide Web, I learned he calls himself “Count Rockula.” He lost out to some guy who goes by “Hot Lixx Hulahan,” but Count Rockula assures me it was more of a judging glitch in which the powers that be didn’t want to give up too much too early and saved higher scores for those who performed later.

Marty also says that he is “obsessed with the word “snickerdoodle.'” That was all I got out of him baking-wise, though. He was on his way to poker night and so, unfortunately, I was unable to confirm whether he is “obsessed” with the actual cookie, too.

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