The Politics of Orientation

Sense memory is a funny thing. Seemingly insignificant things are ingrained early in your cells and pop up at the darndest times.


Earlier this week, after a long day at work and in a post-dinner stupor, I emptied the dishwasher and put away our clean dishes.

No big deal, right? Common, unremarkable.

After I’d put away the dishes, I looked at the cabinet where our glassware is kept and laughed, because I had done something that harkens back to an earlier time.

When The Good Man and I first moved in together more than ten years ago, there was a lot of negotiation. To be expected, I’d been living alone an awfully long time, was a bit set in my ways, and I was no spring chicken either.

So having this dude move into my space was, well, weird. I honestly had some difficulties, which we were able to work through bit by bit.

One such negotiation had to do with the orientation of drinkware on the shelves. You’d think this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it became one of many lessons in “things you do because of where your from.”

You see, I grew up in dry ol’ New Mexico. We loaded our glasses rim down so the dust doesn’t get in ya drink.

The Good Man grew up in Brooklyn. They loaded their glasses rim upward because god knows what crawled across the shelves and it’s gross to drink from a rim that’s been in the yuck. “That’s why my mom puts new shelf paper down in every place she lives,” he explained.

Ah. Well. Sure. That actually made sense. So I relented and agreed our home would be a rims up sort of space.

Besides, I knew that picking battles was going to be the key to success. We still had to settle if our home was going to load toilet paper over the top or from below. (Over the top is the final determination, my preference, The Good Man doesn’t care either way)

So this past week, tired of mind and body, doing something I must have done thousands of times in my life by emptying the dishwasher, I loaded the glassed rim down. And laughed.

Then thought about the early days of The Good Man and Me. As we approach our ten-year wedding anniversary, I have been doing that a lot lately.

So did I then turn the glasses back over? Nope. I left them, figuring we’d use all the clean glasses before the next washer run, and then on the next unload one of us would get the right orientation.

This morning, better rested, I unloaded the dishwasher again. Sense memory, I didn’t even think about it. I put the clean glasses rims up and walked away.

Here is a true and accurate representation of the current state of our cabinet.

Where avoiding dust and avoiding rat droppings meet

I wonder how long it will be before my rather obsessive need for uniformity will get the better of me….can’t blame that on New Mexico.

Photo taken this morning using the Camera+ app on an iPhone 7. I mean, why would you want to steal a photo of my drinkware? But if you do, please remember it’s subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. Attribution, please! :)

Are you there, baklava? It’s me, Karen

You know, I’m really very spoiled. Terribly so, and I must work to not let it all go to my head.

But, I must also say…I deserve a little spoiling now and again…

Like, say, around the celebrations of my birth? Yes. Always a good time to spoil me rotten, and my wonderful mom-in-law held nothing back.

In fact, Sunday was a darn good day in my life.

The day started with the opening of Localvision 2010, a photography exhibition. I was invited to add a photo to the event, and was totally geeked out by the first real gallery showing of my photography.

The Good Man and his mom went along with me to be my entourage for the fun.

It was really heady to see my framed print on the wall and to see people looking at it and talking about their impressions of the image. It pretty much made we want to go hide in the bathroom for the duration. But I held strong.

After the gallery opening, we went to my mom-in-law’s place for dinner.

And oh what a dinner.

For appetizers, there was guacamole (yum!) and Italian salami, and olive and feta cheese and oh my!

I was already starting to fill up.

But then, oh then…….

That amazing cook made me chopped chicken livers. Fresh! From scratch! I saw the actual raw livers before the magic began!

Oh my heavenly days! My love of da liver is well documented.

A whole bowl of homemade liver-y delight! All for me me me me!

Whooooo! I get dizzy just thinking about it. It was the best chopped liver ever in my history.

I almost wept. I really did. It was a brown lump of heaven on a cracker.

If loving cooked chopped organ meat is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

As I surrounded the bowl, my husband had to remind me that I could take some home, I wasn’t required to eat it all there. Seriously, I was afraid someone would take it away from me!

But there was more!

Succulent chicken for dinner with the most delicate and tasty potatoes on the side.

And then….

Oh then….

Homemade baklava for dessert.

For me! Me me me me me!

Ok, I shared the baklava with The Good Man since he’ll eat it (and not liver).

But damn!

I loved my multicultural dinner (Mexican, Greek, Italian, Jewish, etc). I felt so incredibly spoiled and it was one of the best birthday presents EVER!


Today I might need to take a walk and burn a calorie or two. I may have overindulged just a skosh.

And that baklava in my ‘fridge. It calls to me. Sings to me. Beckons me to come and sample of the tasty goodness inside.

I. Can’t. Resist.

The chicken liver is already gone. I couldn’t resist it so much I had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner and every snack in between.


Feliz Cumpleaños para me!

The things that stick with you

Yesterday, in celebration of my mom-in-law’s fabulous birthday, the three of us (The mom-in-law, The Good Man and me), loaded up for a trip to a museum.

It’s become our tradition on birthdays. We have a day of culture in celebration. Memorable days are the best presents ever.

Yesterday’s destination was The Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.

I was unsure what to expect when we got there. Would it be Jewish artifacts? Would it be art made by Jewish artists?

But I love museums, so I was totally in.

I was fully unprepared for what awaited me. There were just three main exhibits, as the museum itself isn’t that large.

The first exhibition we visited was called: “Our Struggle”: Responding to Mein Kampf

I’d read online how French painter and photographer, Linda Ellia, took on a project to have artists and non-artists alike transform the pages of Hitler’s nasty tome.

From the website:

“The book’s weight in her hands embodied the heaviness of the Holocaust; she felt compelled to respond. After personally altering a number of the pages to express her anger, she invited hundreds of people from all over the world to paint, draw, sculpt, and collage directly on the pages of the book.”

I could not have begun to imagine how tragic, and beautiful, and life affirming the exhibit would be.

There were over 600 altered pages on display, each one with a unique voice, a unique pain, a unique promise.

There were pages done by professional artists and pages done by random people that Linda met in coffee shops and on the street.

The works were sometimes simple and elegant, like the page where every word was carefully excised, leaving only a page of small rectangles. Or a page where every letter was made into a small figure of a person.

In some cases, the works were very extravagant, a train, in exquisite detail, done in watercolors, completely covering the page. Or an intricate felted and painted heart that was then sewed and stapled to the page.

Each page transformed the words of hate into a work of art. Truly, deeply, reclaiming those pages.

I don’t know if my description or the websites description even does the exhibit justice. It was one of the most profound things I have ever witnessed.

And this one will stick with me for a while.

(image of The Contemporary Jewish Museum, from their website)

Lighting a votive for, uh, peace?

Oh, this could be a serious and solemn post.

It’s not gonna be, however.

So you see…my rock star mom-in-law is a Brooklyn girl, and at the holidays, she has traditions in keeping with where she was raised.

In her words: “Not untypically for someone from Brooklyn in my day for most of my adult life, I’ve made Italian food for the holidays. Often the menu included a seafood dish like spaghetti and clams for Christmas or New Years Eve and usually a lasagna on Christmas Day.”

Italian food? Oh I’m ALL about that.

This holiday season it was her very generous idea to celebrate the holidays with the foods from my childhood in New Mexico.

That means tamales that we handmade together, a pan of Hatch green chile enchiladas and a big pot o’ beans.

To help set the atmosphere, my mom-in-law brought over some accoutrements including Mexican hot chocolate, a tortilla warmer, and an Our Lady of Guadalupe votive candle.

We lit Our Lady up and enjoyed dinner by her warm candlelight.

So the holidays passed by, as they will. The Good Man and I began to dismantle the holiday displays in our home and put things away.

Our Lady of the Fabulous Christmas Feast had been on the coffee table for a couple weeks, but after New Years she had disappeared. The Good Man had stowed her away somewhere. Fair enough, right?

But then…I was rather startled to, uh, find her.


I call her “Our Lady of Fartima.”

The Good Man never laughs when I do.

But I crack myself up every time. I think being able to make your ownself laugh is the key to a long life.

Side note to Ephraim: I realize yesterday I promised to try and keep it classy on the blog today. I failed miserably. I’ll try again on Monday, ok?

A few views of old Vegas

So finally I’m back on a plane headed westward to San Francisco which means home and my cranky Feline (who has been wreaking havoc in my mom-in-law’s home).

The trip to Vegas was a good one. The Good Man’s business was conducted, we ate some great food and even took in a Penn & Teller show at the Rio.

But as with every trip I take to Vegas, I’m done. Yup. She wears me weary and it’s time to get back to the place and get to where I can live normally without the ching-ching of a slot machine as my background music.

I did get a chance while visiting to take a look at the old Vegas that I remember (and sometimes yearn for).

While the Neon Museum’s boneyard is closed for construction, they do have a few beautifully restored signs installed down on Fremont street that you can visit.

Here are a few photos I took on my trip. I haven’t sorted out all 350 photos I shot, but these are a couple of my faves so far. (click image to see full size)

Vegas Vic, an icon of early Las Vegas history when he was the image often used by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce.

This comes from high atop the Nevada Hotel Sign.

The orginal lamp from the Aladdin Hotel and Casino. I remember this one well. It was like seeing an old friend.

And finally, the Hacienda horse and rider from the original Hacienda Hotel and Casino. I also remember this one. It’s been beautifully redone!

There may be more to come as I sift through what I got.

For now, I’m ready to be home.

Oh, and as a final thought…how cool am I? I’m blogging from thirty thousand feet in the air. WiFi on airplanes, what a cool concept! (Go Virgin America!)