ME WANT [recipes for] COOKIES

These are my favorite cookies ever, but getting the recipe would be on par with the Ocean's 11 heist.
These are my favorite cookies ever, but getting the recipe would be on par with the Ocean’s 11 heist.

So, I’m trying to do something cool for some nice friends of mine who have been deployed to Afghanistan for the next year. I want to send them cookies every week, but I don’t want to just send Toll House chocolate chippers every couple days. Would you be willing to share your favorite recipe with me? All the different ways to contact me are in the About column. I’m hoping to get about 50 and I’ll make a little booklet at the end!

You Should Know How To Do This: Look Good On Skype

The phenomenon of the webcam girl is perhaps the most baffling of all things in the modern world. How is it possible that there are people who look so good on webcam that there are other people willing to give them actual money just to look at them on webcam? I feel like the weird lighting of your house, the graininess, and the requisite sound delay make the whole thing unsexy by default. In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that you look 87% less hot on Google Hangout than in real life.*

This is my "pre-doing all the advice" look. This is what you will look like if you do not follow my good advice.
This is my “pre-doing all the advice” look. This is what you will look like if you do not follow my good advice. I took this about 10 minutes before the “after advice” one, so do with that information what you will.

But in this, our rapidly shifting universe, there will come a time when you need to make yourself presentable via Skype or something like it: Friends and lovers move abroad, get deployed, or decide having a cell phone is a racket, you decide you want to look at your sister’s face and she’s off at college in Vermont, a company in Seattle wants to make sure you don’t have a face tattoo before they hire you sight unseen, whatever. It’s incredibly stressful, because not only do you have to look like yourself/professional/hot, you also have to give the other person your undivided attention and make eye contact, unlike phone chatting. That said, there are some steps you could take so you can feel confident and attractive.

My first, and best, suggestion is to be really good looking in real life. That will get you pretty far in this whole Skype game. Barring that, check out some ideas after the jump.

Continue reading “You Should Know How To Do This: Look Good On Skype”

Book Club: Stateside

My wonderful friend Kat sent me a copy of Stateside when I emailed her a few weeks ago about some Iliad/ancient Greece questions, and honestly, I can’t remember the last time I loved a poetry volume so much.

ImageStateside came up in our conversation because Jehanne Dubrow writes a lot about Penelope and Odysseus in her work. Currently a professor at Washington College, Dubrow is a child of the foreign service. She is also married to a guy who is in the navy, and that’s what this book is about. Unrelated but amazing: she also has a blog about perfume and poetry, which is fun and I am so into it.

If you aren’t familiar with the story of Penelope and Odysseus, the extremely brief rundown is that Odysseus leaves for the Trojan War and Penelope waits for him for basically an eternity, refusing all suitors and hoping he’s alive. It’s a very sad, but very touching story that is pretty applicable today.

Dubrow casts herself as a modern-day Penelope, and she’s sharp, hopeful, bitter, funny, smart, romantic, mean-spirited, fearful, wistful– I could go on. She’s all the feelings you have when someone you love is somewhere unsafe. Her overall style is very formal– she tends toward traditional formats and rhythms– but the feel of the book is decidedly modern.

Rather than just taking my word for how great her work is, I thought I’d offer you a poem from the collection, with my attendant apologies about how the line breaks worked out; I’m not sure why they aren’t working correctly.

Penelope, Stateside

On an island called America,

start fantasizing of the sex

you had with him. Go shop for bras

and lacy thongs at the PX,

black garters, bustiers, a cream

that leaves your body woven silk

a self-help book for self-esteem

a bag of M&Ms, skim milk

to keep you thin, a Lean Cuisine

(you hate to cook for one). Or buy

a pair of True Religion jeans,

the denim pressing on each thigh

so that there’s no sensation but

blue fabric like a second skin,

no lover’s touch more intimate,

than the zipper pressing in.

But don’t forget. He may come home

so torn that purchases won’t mean

a thing, not the Posturepedic foam

pillowtop mattress, or the sateen

duvet. He won’t be satisfied–

by the eiderdowns or bedspreads sown

by hand– still numb, because he’s stateside

and dreaming of the combat zone.

So there’s that. I couldn’t stop feeling the feelings when I read through the 57 pages that comprise the collection. Give it a try– even if you don’t know anyone in the armed forces, foreign service, etc., the writing is still tight as a drum and rife with beautiful allusions and imagery.

Next week, I’m going to read this graphic novel. Please join me.