Month: January 2015

Te Extraño, España

I miss Spain.  

One week was enough to get me to fall in love with this place, similarly as to how I fell in love with Hangzhou. I miss walking around everywhere, I miss drinking at 11 am (obviously you need wine with your breakfast tapas!), I miss the odd shopping experiences, I miss the Spaniards.

I miss the food, too.  The delicious, mouth-watering, decadent, fantastic food.

Alas, I am stateside, and in the Northeast, and it’s really effing cold here.  There’s no trace of Iberian love anywhere.  Well, not really.  In an effort to catch up with a friend and recapture a bit of my May trip, we headed to a local restaurant where there’s a language barrier, ample food and drink, and corners in which one can tell secrets.


Culinary Christmas

Ask any kid, and they’ll tell you that Christmas is about presents.  Christmas is about presents under the tree and opening them, and getting stuff.  Oh, and a week off from school.  But mostly, it’s about presents.

If that’s the criteria for being a typical, “good” kid, that means I was a atypical and not a “good” kid.  Sure, I loved presents.  But for me, Christmas always was, and still is, about the food.  The Sette Pesci (Seven Fish) dinner on Christmas Eve is one of my favorites, and the huge spread on Christmas Day.  Sadly, I have no photos of Christmas Eve – we were scattered with work and other families, so it was a really, really small meal with just a few of us.

I did, however, manage to snap some photos during the hors d’oeuvres course on Christmas Day.

2014-12-25This is what we’d call a “light spread.”  Seriously – it is.  If you can see tablecloth, it’s a quick and easy apps table.  My aunt goes all out, but this year we were all a bit tired, so we “went small.”  The big thing in the middle is an antipasto.  I helped make it.  It was my claim to fame this year.


Marinated mozzarella, marinated mushrooms, figs, provolone, roasted peppers, scungili, spicy peppers and sopresata salad, mortadelle, prosciutto, salami, bologna, chick pea salad, frutta di mare, capicola, pickled eggplant, Roquefort-stuffed peppers, hot cherry peppers, pepperoncini, pickled cauliflower, pepperoni, marinated artichoke hearts, more salami, olives, broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, basil, onions.

And just in case THAT isn’t enough for you, it’s important to always have gamberi (shrimp) and a cheese board.  By the way, the apricot cheese is freaking delicious and my aunt wouldn’t tell me what it was – only that it’s my grandmother’s favorite.



But, because we are Italian, one massive brunch is not enough.  At 10:00 am, my mom took to preparing a 14-lb beef roast.  Because apparently each family member needs to eat one full pound of meat, only a few hours after eating that giant antipasto.

edm5c6PF6dUMNJAlzpY4FIsKrURZ5jgq_dCuAjbC93R1=w1000-h563-noAnd what would a holiday be without sweets?  To be fair, this isn’t the “dessert table.”  The dessert table was well-hidden in my grandmother’s apartment rooms.  This table is by the front door, and is always stocked like this.  When my cousins lived with my aunt for any extended period of time, they always gained weight.  And we’re talking 10-15 lbs.  It’s not the Freshman Fifteen you need to worry about.  It’s the Timmins Twenty.


This was a light holiday – if I do say so myself.  My dad and brother were working, so we were down a few members.  We weren’t terribly hungry, either.  I think 2014 got to us all.  But worry not – Easter is always the biggest (and my favorite) holiday.  No expense spared.  Just wait!



What’s In A Name?

Just as people name their pets, children, and boats, people also name their cars.

You love them, you work on them, they become part of you, and they deserve some sort of name.  There have been several Pandas (there were several versions, but it was always a super awesome, custom-built race car that was white with a black hood), there was Baby Panda (Baby, for short – she is the older model under Panda, and she was smaller, slower, and far less temperamental), and Tots (the Nissan Titan – the towing vehicle).  I drove a 2010 Miata named Newt, a 2003 z06 Corvette named Chicken, and a 1991 CRX named Smurf.


I’m sure you can figure out why this car earned the name “Smurf.”

But the car whose name takes the cake is the 1999 FRC Corvette I drove in 2013.  My friend James had purchased it, and in an effort to get it race-ready as soon as possible, offered the seat to basically anyone who wanted to drive it, so they could give feedback. Somehow, at some point, due to a very hilarious conversation in which one of the season drivers was dubbed, “Assman,” the car took on the name Gangbang.


Photo by Chang Ho Kim.

Because we would discuss the car often, I decided I needed to add it to my phone dictionary, for easy use with Swype.  The autocorrect would put in all manner of things, so I figured, “Why not?”  I mean, it’s a very specific pattern in which to get this word, and it would save a lot of trouble trying to type it all out.

Post-2013, I was no longer the Ladies driver for Gangbang, and the car has since been sold.  It was a sad day to see it go, but the memories of it were great.  What I’d forgotten was that it was still in my dictionary…


Sigh.  RIP Gangbang.  And thank you, autocorrect.

Damn the Torpedoes

You know, sometimes, I don’t know why,
But this old town just seems so hopeless.
I ain’t really sure, but it seems I remember the good times
Were just a little bit more in focus.

Normally, for my last post (or first post) of the year, I’d post the song Long December by the Counting Crows, and then recap the year’s events, and my resolutions for the coming twelve months.  This year, I decided to do something different.  I suppose I didn’t have resolutions per se, and I am not entirely sure I need to recap the whole year – in fact, I think if I did, I might want to go drink myself into oblivion and eat a whole cake.


If I have to eat a cake, it might as well be this one….


If you just read this blog, you might think 2014 was a year full of fun – travel, books, racing, oh my!  I went to Madrid, Boston, New York City, Dallas.  I raced all over the country.  I read over twenty books.  I made new friends, visited old ones, and strengthened my relationships, despite hundreds of miles and oceans between us.

It looks like I had a great 2014.  But in reality, it was a really, really tough year.  I almost lost my mom – twice – to GI diseases.  The last bits of my marriage crumbled and ended in a very sad and difficult divorce that took eleven of the twelve months.  I couldn’t eat or sleep (still can’t sleep – working on the eating bit).  Work became so much more frustrating, and seemingly dead end, that I drove home in tears at least a few times a month.  Grad school screwed me over, I was not able to begin my Masters program, and I missed the races I had been looking forward to the most.  I was hospitalized for a week, and then admitted again for two days two months later for an emergency procedure (following the most excruciating diet I’ve ever been on), due to my own GI issues, which continue to plague me and are still of unknown origin.

This is the better graph - other 30-day periods are far worse.

This is the better graph – other 30-day periods are far worse.

I’d like to say, “Yes, I definitely learned something from all my trials and tribulations this year.  Yes, I am a stronger, smarter, and an overall better person from all of this.  Yes, I am viewing the year, despite all the hardship, as something put there so I can learn.”  And while all of that may be true, I also want to say, “Fuck you, 2014.”  Sure, I learned things.  I learned who is truly in my support network, and sadly, who is not (and sometimes, those people surprise you, and it really fucking hurts).  I learned about love, and loss, and what I really need from a relationship and from myself.  I learned that what you don’t say speaks far louder than what you do.  But looking back on the year, despite the lessons being important, I find myself asking, “Was it worth it?” Hmmmm……

Photo by Geoff Yen

Photo by Geoff Yen

I wholeheartedly believe that things happen for a reason, and I believe that the experiences you have and the choices you make shape who you are.  Heraclitus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”  But come on, 2014 – why did you have to be such a jerk?  I’m pretty sure I could have learned those lessons, made those choices, and been just as tormented health-wise without all the backstabbing, lying, stress, and missed hours of sleep.  I mean, come on 2014.  You sort of sucked.  And just when I thought I’d be seeing you out, that I’d seen the last of you, you rewarded me with an trip to the emergency room at 3 am on December 31.  Really?!


I suppose that for the coming twelve months, I have lofty goals and ambitions, just like I always do.  I have the “read more, eat healthier, exercise more” things to fulfill, but I suppose there are other things I’d not thought about.  I’ve made changes to myself over the last year, that have bitten me in the ass, but have overall ended up better than worse.  I speak up and don’t let things bother me or fester for long.  I am trying to give more people a bigger benefit of the doubt, and taking them for who they are, instead of who I’d like them to be.  I also am trying to let things go and be more positive.  They aren’t easy things to do, but I figure I’ve got a long hard road ahead of me.  What’s a few more boulders in my path?

And who knows what will happen?  Maybe I’ll find a new job, maybe I’ll move to a new city, or find a new love.  Maybe I’ll even buy a new car.  The only thing I know  is that this year has to be better.