I Dream of Running Away (Or Ambivalent About LA Again)

I frequently feel the urge to flee LA — at least once a year — to be specific. When I’m gripped with the strong desire to go somewhere else it’s usually because I’m fantasizing about a “normal” life.

(My definition of normal involves a garden, men who own power tools, and a standing tailgate every Saturday in the fall.)

I was having one of those days on Thursday. I wanted to be anywhere but here. Then I got a message from my friend, Murph. He had an extra ticket to the Snoop, Cypress Hill, and Wiz Khalifa show at the Greek for 4/20, complete with backstage passes.

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Normal life, what? Who needs THAT when you can go backstage?!?

Murph is developing a pilot with Bobo, the drummer from Cypress Hill, because this is LA, and everyone is working on a pilot. Bobo hooked us up for the show.

Obviously, our seats were sick.

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Get it, Wiz.

But maybe not as sick as the backstage situation.

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Like duh.

Sure, I have to dry-clean my entire ensemble so I don’t smell like a walking bong, but it was worth it.

So worth it, in fact, that I got over my need to flee for 24 full hours.

That is until I was in an uber with Dan* on the way to his friends’ Purple Rain screening party the following evening. (4/21 is the one year anniversary of Prince’s death — for the four of you who weren’t aware.)

We had a long ride to the party, and I shared my fantasy about moving to Austin to eat proper barbecue and grow my own herbs in a large garden.

“And I’d have room to throw pots,” he observed.

It was news to me that he made pottery, but I guess we all have sides of ourselves we can’t express in LA — interests we’ve put on hold. It’s that kind of city. Sure, you can find anything here if you search for it, but the pace and the cost of everything can sometimes cause you to shelve some of your interests while you’re stuck in traffic or working to keep your lights on.

It’s not all bad, though.

We do have excellent sushi options.

In fact, I walked to Sugarfish with my book this afternoon and posted up at the sushi bar while reading and devouring all kinds of raw tuna. The man sitting next to me seemed uncomfortable eating alone. He could NOT put his phone down even to enjoy the taste of the fish. He shoveled it into his mouth without looking up from the small screen.

Sure, I had brought a book myself, but I have a rule that I don’t read and eat simultaneously. I generally prefer to enjoy one pleasure at a time.

This awkward man also blew his nose on his napkin after eating his toro hand roll. I hoped he’d get up to wash before eating the baked crab hand roll. (I mean, it’s a HAND roll! It’s not like he had chopsticks between his seaweed and his snot fingers!) I silently willed him to get up and wash, but to no avail.

As he mindlessly munched on his crab, pecking at his phone with the other hand, I wondered where he had put his snot-filled napkin, but I dared not look.

I’m not easily grossed out, and it’s not like I lost my appetite, but I was sort of mesmerized, in a horrified way, by his cavalier disregard for his hands. My Nana wouldn’t let me out of the bathroom unless she heard the tap, and she absolutely wouldn’t let me near food if I didn’t scrub up. These things leave an impression.

So, yes, I was judging him, but he may have been secretly judging me for having Sapporo with my lunch, so maybe we were even.

Anyway, LA has great sushi even if you sometimes have to eat it sitting next to a snot monster with questionable hygiene, and there are spontaneous invitations to the Cypress Hill green room at the Greek, outdoor Purple Rain parties, and all kinds of other adventures, so it’s not all awful.

I do sometimes wonder if I’m putting too much of myself on hold to be here, however.

Would I have more to write about if I went somewhere new and immersed myself in a different place?

The thought haunts me.

I guess it’s just the time of year when I wonder.

*I’ll explain Dan another time. He probably deserves his own post — at some point… when I’m ready.  

 

I’m Baking Tofu and Falling in Love (Or How to Make Baked Tofu Stir Fry with Broccoli and Quinoa)

I made something healthy. Can you believe it?

So, remember how I said I was working on falling in love with the new Yeasayer album? Well, it happened. I’m in love. Now, I’m not saying it’s perfect or anything, but there are three tracks I can’t live without so far. The others may never move me in the same way, or their meaning will hit me at another time. For now I’m all about Longevity, Fingers Never Bleed, and Glass of the Microscope.

And the working on falling in love part? Let me explain. But first, allow me to digress for a moment. Last March I heard Scott Snibbe speak at SXSW. He collaborated with Bjork on her last album, and he was absolutely my favorite speaker at the conference. I have pages of notes from his talk, but there’s one thing I didn’t need to write down because it blew me away with its profundity. It was this:

“We’ve lost the falling in love phase with music and we’ve gone to the hooking up phase.”

Think about that for a moment, ‘cuz it’s totally true. We’re not taking the time to fall in love with music. We’re quickly buying the track we liked on XM, discovered on Pandora, etc. We’re not sitting with the liner notes. We’re not looking at the album art. We’re having this impoverished experience in a way. Because I absolutely can’t shut my head off ever and this blog is mainly meant for making shapes with frosting, I am spinning off and starting another blog here. With that blog I will delve deeper into the intellectual and emotional quagmires that absolutely keep me up at night. Every night.

So anyway…

I’m taking the time to fall in love with the album, but it’s because I dug the band in the first place. See, I don’t think you can make yourself love music or a person if there isn’t some sort of spark there initially. But the falling in love? That probably takes some time. In my 34 years on this earth I HAVE NEVER grown to love someone I didn’t feel a bit drawn towards in the first place. Not really. You just can’t force these things.

It’s probably the same with our polarizing friend, tofu. I happen to have felt a spark for the extra firm variety the first time I tasted it, so I was willing to take the time to play around with it. If you don’t dig tofu, this recipe probably isn’t for you. And don’t worry: I’m not trying to turn you into a tofu convert. I’ll still be your internet friend if you don’t like it. I promise.

Baked Tofu Stir Fry with Broccoli and Quinoa

3T vegetable oil
3T rice vinegar
3T soy sauce
1 tsp red chili pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cornstarch

14 oz extra firm tofu
1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
1 C quinoa

Preheat the oven to 425. Mix together the first five ingredients. Drain the tofu and apply light pressure with your hands to remove excess water.

Slice the tofu in 1 cm (roughly 3/8 inch) slices. Cut each slice into thirds. Submerge the tofu slices in the marinade and then place them on a baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden and slightly brown on both sides. You will need to flip the tofu over after roughly 10 minutes, so keep on eye on it.

Prepare the quinoa according to the instructions on the box. While the tofu is baking and the quinoa is cooking, bring water to boil in a separate pot. Add the broccoli florets and cook until al dente.
Add the cornstarch to the remaining marinade. Heat the marinade mixture in a skillet over low heat.

Serve the tofu and broccoli over quinoa, adding sauce to taste. If you prefer a less salty sauce, try using low sodium soy or cutting the sauce with a few tablespoons of water.