Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures


Healing through snacking

I can’t bake. As a skill, it combines two of the things I’m bad at (math and science). For the past few years, I’ve also literally not been able to bake since I haven’t lived in a place with an oven. Both of these facts posed significant obstacles when I was looking around for ways to cheer myself up and kept reading about how people were making cookies or cakes after being shaken up by the Boston bombings. I still wanted to do something for myself, so I fell back on my default position: make some variation on peanut butter cups.

Choc pb pretzel 1

Chocolate covered pretzels with peanut butter (for dipping) was the result. Added bonus: they take very little time to prepare and are quickly ready to eat.

Le cul’s Sweet Carolines (they’re “so good, so good“)

  1. Melt baker’s chocolate in the microwave. (I lined the bowl with wax/parchment paper to lessen mess-factor.)
  2. Dip, dredge or drizzle chocolate on pretzels. Place on wax/parchment paper.
  3. Sprinkle with good salt. (None of that table salt business.)
  4. Place in freezer until chocolate has hardened to your taste.
  5. Slather with peanut butter.
  6. Smile quietly while licking fingers (bowl licking optional).

Choc pb pretzel 2 Choc pb pretzel 3


Move along (and moving on)

boston.crime_.tape_While I’m no longer alternating between crying and staring blankly into space, it’s still too soon for me to go back to my default setting of trying to amuse. Instead, I’ve been wrestling with how much the bombings at last week’s Boston Marathon affected me versus how little I care about the many horrible things that happen elsewhere around the world on a regular basis. And this makes me feel pretty terrible about myself.

I cut down my Internet time considerably over the weekend to give myself a break from how horrible everything (possibly including myself) is, but podcasts stop for no man, and one actually made me feel a little better. Terry Gross, who hosts a long-running interview program on NPR (kind of an American BBC), spoke with Charlie Sennott, a Boston-born reporter who’s been all over the world and covered military conflicts, wars and disasters of various kinds. Here are the things he said that actually made me start to breathe easier (emphasis mine):

Patriots’ Day is a day in Boston that is the best day in Boston, when it seems like there’s almost always good weather and we have the Red Sox playing and the Marathon is such a great tradition, proud sense of history, the anniversaries of the battles in Concord and Lexington and you think, this is this pageant of just life, and a great city. And I think when we – when we saw these events unfold, I started to really ask myself why does it feel so different that these victims have a Boston accent?

This is different and I think it is different because suddenly you realize that every time you cover a bombing, it’s someone’s hometown. And I think this bombing has reminded me of that, that maybe we’ve covered so many bombings over so much time, in Belfast, in Pakistan, Oklahoma City, Jerusalem, Kabul, Madrid, London – maybe all of this somehow gets you at some point inured to the meaning of it for the people who have gone through it, and it’s a horrible shock to Boston. It’s a tough, resilient town, but it’s a reminder to me as a journalist from here that we’ve got to bring that same emotion, as much as we can, every time, everywhere in the world, because wherever a bombing happens, it’s someone’s hometown.

You can listen to the full interview here or read just the transcript here.

We’ll see if I can get up to my regular shenanigans later this week. (Thankfully tomorrow’s post was planned ages ago.)


I love that dirty water

This makes me cry. @illuminator99

This makes me cry. @illuminator99

There are 9964 songs in my iTunes (30 straight days’ worth, 61.92 GB). The last time “Dirty Water” by The Standells played was on January 6, 2009. This Tuesday, the day after the Patriots’ Day bombings at the Boston Marathon, while listening on shuffle, it came on again. I think the odds of this happening are something like 1 in 10,000, but I’m no expert. Whatever the odds, it was a hell of a coincidence.

The song goes like this:

I’m gonna tell you a story
I’m gonna tell you about my town
I’m gonna tell you a big bad story, baby
Aww, it’s all about my town

Yeah, down by the river
Down by the banks of the river Charles (aw, that’s what’s happenin’ baby)
That’s where you’ll find me
Along with lovers, fuggers, and thieves (aw, but they’re cool people)
Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you’re my home (oh, you’re the Number One place)

Frustrated women (I mean they’re frustrated)
Have to be in by twelve o’clock (oh, that’s a shame)
But I’m wishin’ and a-hopin, oh
That just once those doors weren’t locked (I like to save time for my baby to walk around)
Well I love that dirty water
Oh, Boston, you’re my home (oh, yeah)

Because I love that dirty water
Oh, oh, Boston, you’re my home (oh, yeah)

Well, I love that dirty water (I love it, baby)
I love that dirty water (I love Baw-stun)
I love that dirty water (Have you heard about the Strangler?)
I love that dirty water (I’m the man, I’m the man)
I love that dirty water (Owww!)
I love that dirty water (Come on, come on)

I didn’t grow up in Boston, but Boston is my home. It’s the first city I loved and it’s where I really became myself; an entity separate from my family. I haven’t been back in over a decade, but the attack still feels personal. I walked or rode my bike on Boylston Street hundreds, possibly thousands, of times. I worked at a restaurant that was half a block up from the second bomb. That strip of pavement and the steps into the Boston Public Library were literally my stomping ground for years. I spent hours in the BPL because it was free, air-conditioned and full of books making it the best place in the city for a college student on a budget.

I don’t pray but my thoughts are with all the people of the greatest city I’ve ever lived in. I know them and I know they’ll bounce back and be tougher than ever, but the physical and psychic wounds will take time to heal, even from the other side of the world.

And now for something completely related

→ I don’t want to leave you on a sad note, so here’s Stephen Colbert‘s response which includes some reminders of why Bostonians are bad ass mofos and not to be trifled with. They will fah-Q up.

→ And Jon Stewart almost making me cry again by correctly identifying the century-long rivalry between his city and mine as one not of enemies, but siblings. Sniff.

→ Dennie Lehane, Boston writer extraordinaire (Shutter Island, Mystic River) says “Bostonians don’t love easy things, they love hard things — blizzards, the bleachers in Fenway Park, a good brawl over a contested parking space.” Fortitude is in the water there.

→ Reddit is trying to solve the mystery of who the bomber(s) is/are by crowd-sourcing the crime scene. I have conflicted feelings about this. Right hand says that the wisdom of the crowds can offer valuable insights. Left hand says that mob mentality doesn’t lead to anything good.

→ A weird question I was asked by a Spanish friend once was “What does it feel like to have a national anthem?” I never figured out what he meant, but today I can say that it makes you feel like you’re connected to hundreds, thousands, millions of people you’ve never met. Here are 17,000 of them.