Don’t Push Her

What a jarring wake up call. I usually take the bus down 16th street every morning without a care in the world, my music playing…life is all good.  But, today as we stopped in front of the Planned Parenthood offices at L and 16th street, I saw the most horrifying sight.

A young, African American girl probably no older than 17 was standing outside of the building without a coat, crying.  Next to her, an older white man with a heavy beard and large cross stood hovering over her shaking a bible at her.  The girl sobbed heavily and tried to move away from the man as she approached the center’s front doors.  He kept pressuring her backwards using his chest as a battering ram.  I kept thinking, Don’t push her. What the hell does he think he’s doing?

Suddenly, from inside the center, two volunteers rocketed outside wearing neon Planned Parenthood penny jerseys over their coats.  The male volunteer walked over to the old man and used his body as a physical barrier between the man and the young girl.  The other volunteer covered the girl with a blanket and ushered her inside as the older man screamed expletives at her calling her a dirty whore.  If I could hear that language through the bus windows in traffic, you can only imagine how loud and violent it must have been for that poor girl.

Once the girl got inside, the older man pressed his face against the glass door and kept screaming.  Our bus pulled away, leaving me with a last glimpse of the man angrily throwing his arms in the air, accidentally dropping the Bible he had shoved in the face of the girl.

This kind of incident I’m sure happens all the time at PPMW. But is it right? Is it legal to harass a young girl for wanting to get help, to get answers?

These images and sounds resonate more strongly with me now that John Boehner was sworn in as the Speaker of the House. Despite his tendency to cry at anything that requires composure, he’s the most powerful anti-choice politician in the country and in his 20 years of political service, he has never voted pro-choice, not even for sexual education or birth control. Taking away the basic right to access care, whether it’s abortion, contraceptives, or even just counseling, will deeply affect many young people–girls very similar to the one I saw this morning.

We’re entering a scary era in the history of reproductive choice and rights… Should I move to Sweden?

Ah the blubbering Boehner

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Cinematic Gold

While growing up in my parents’ house, we weren’t allowed to watch TV.  We had no cable. I never watched nickelodeon or saturday morning cartoons.  Yes, I am that clueless adult who has no idea what fraggle rock is.

The extent of my sitcom television education was Arthur, Sesame Street, the Magic Schoolbus, and, as we got a bit older, Sister Sister on the WB.  Our alternative: movies. Tons and tons of movies.  Particularly the classics, Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, and Disney gems.

Remember when you were a little kid and watched movies, but might not have understood everything that was going on? You’ll be surprised how much you missed.

So, in 2011 I’ve made it a point to re-watch some of the fantastic films I remember as a kid.  The three must-sees so far:

Pocketful of Miracles – Frank Capra film with Bette Davis, Glenn Ford, and Peter Falk about helping someone out just for the sake of helping.

A Pocketful of Miracles

Father Goose Cary Grant and Leslie Caron bicker on a remote island in the Pacific during WWII.

The Thin Man Series – William Powell may be my most favorite drunk detective ever.

Talking to the Dog...

Take some time to revisit or check out these films.  I promise you won’t regret it.

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My favorite things

As we reach the end of the year, I have thought a lot about my favorite things– clothes I like, blogs I read, people I love, food I love to eat.  I thought I’d share and hopefully you can add them to your favorites list:

Favorite Blog: A CUP OF JO – Joanna Goddard never fails to make me smile.  Whether she’s documenting her pregnancy or sharing amazing photography, her blog embodies many of the things that make people happy.

My Sisters: Sasha and Abby, you guys make everything better.  Watching movies, hovering in the kitchen while Abby bakes (who simultaneously threatens to kill us if we touch anything), wrestling, and pouring our hearts out… It will never get old.

At Tufts graduation

Places I’ve gone: In the past year, I have traveled to Los Angeles, New Jersey, Cape Cod, New York, Westport (CT), Boston, DC, Cleveland (MS), Stuttgart (AR), New Orleans.  And for next year:  Memphis (TN), New York, Paris, Berlin, San Francisco, and hopefully many more!


terraced buildings of New Orleans

performer outside the french quarter

Old Photographs: While browsing through the cook book collection at my grandpa’s apartment, I stumbled upon an old photo of my grandparents in the 60’s taken by my cousin Ada. It was a little tattered and torn, but I took it to Penn Camera to be digitally restored. Now it’s hanging above my desk in my apartment. The photo is completely perfect. My grandparents are relaxed, in love, comforted by one another.

Here's one Sasha found of my parents in the 80's

Viennese Cooking: Most of these recipes are just simply the most delicious things you have ever eaten.  It’s not shi-shi or fancy, just simple stews, light salads, and punchy/creamy desserts that remind me of my family’s cooking. In DC, Kafe Leopold creates some of my favorite dishes including the classic schnitzel.


Schnitzel...SO GOOD. photo courtesy of iGuide

Reunions with Friends: After college and even during college, there is no possible way to see everyone you love on a regular basis.  Thanks to skype, face-time, trains, Boltbus, and facebook messages, I don’t feel so distanced even if we catch up virtually.

This Face: Enough said.

Warm, Winter Things: Onesies, fur-lined bootsknit cowls, weird socks, Cocoa Recipes, Linzertorte, Outdoor bonfires, mulled wine.

I still wear this snowflake badass onesie I received for Hanukkah two years ago

Knit Cowl by Galit Mastai photo courtesy of Galit Mastai

Sorel Boots, vundebar. photo courtesy of

My New Hood: It really is beautiful.

Meridian Hill Park, across from my apartment

I’m off to LA tomorrow for New Years.  Happy Holidays everyone!


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Virtual Dating

About six months ago, Griffin and I shifted our relationship from a 10-minute walk away to 1,500 miles away with the start of new jobs in DC and Arkansas.  We’ve done amazingly well, but it still gets hard time to time when we both want to share a meal or do the normal dating stuff.

After several brainstorming sessions about how we could be closer and supplement our monthly visits, we decided to have a TV&dinner virtual date night.  Here’s how it works:

  1. Pick a recipe (one that’s fitting for the season).
  2. Prepare a recipe and add your twist to it. In Griffin’s case there is a lot of adaptation because Arkansas is–how shall I put it?–limited in its ingredient selection.
  3. Document the changes, call each other, explain changes.
  4. Pick a TV show on Hulu.
  5. Watch and eat while being on the phone.

Minus the delays in grocery shopping and the unnecessarily long roasting-time of the squash, all went to plan.

Griff’s butternut parmesan pasta was more like an acorn squash pasta without the parsley.  I didn’t have any nutmeg, so I switched to cinnamon.  I also added less cheese giving the dish a sweeter flavor.

We watched “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” because we like trashy television.  The women on this show are way less dramatic than Atlanta, but so much more plastic.  It was so nice to hear each other chomp down on our pastas knowing that these chicks were definitely not coming close to eating something so caloric.  Sharing the evening felt like we were eating one big bowl in front of the TV together. A good night.

Griff's version (with lemon butter asparagus)

My version...see all the yummy parsley bits?

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It Feels Like a Movie Here

Reunions are glorious things. So much food. So much cuddling. So much laughing.

The Highlights:

  • Katie’s glorious apartment in west midtown. The light is movie magical. The couches are comfortable. The beds expandable. The DVD player doesn’t like us very much.  But it works.
  • Sam’s Bacchantae concert at Columbia. A little a cappella always makes a weekend better.
  • $4 margaritas at The Heights. Bobbing my head to 90’s dance mixes.
  • Katie’s buttermilk pancakes.
  • Wandering Rockefeller Center and making the rounds at J.Crew, Anthropologie, the Lego store.
  • The Whole Foods in Columbus Circle. Spending $17 on two pounds of prepared food. YUM.
  • Chatting up Indian waiters over lamb korma, malai kofta, and kingfisher.
  • Hookah at Sahara East and cinnamon tea in the outdoor heated (?) tent.
  • Swanky tea and coffee at the W Hotel Lounge in Union Square.

Pure Happy.

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The Holi Tag Team in Central Park of Jaipur

Today I travel to NYC for an informal reunion of my study abroad program pals.  Almost 2 years ago we packed our bags, stuffed cipro in our pockets, and flew to India starting one of the most formative experiences of my life.  There were 21 of us, all from different schools and parts of the world.  The experience was amazing not only because we were in India (one of my all-time favorite places), but because we all really clicked with one another.  It was a mini-family and we’ve stayed in pretty good touch since then.

I think it will be around 9 of us this weekend which is a good turnout considering the demands of work and expense of travel for poor young professionals.  Luckily I have to work in NY on Monday so the trip is rather convenient.

I’m planning to go to my friend Sam’s a cappella concert with her all-female group at Columbia tonight; I’m hoping to find an Indian beer somewhere; and I indeed want to cuddle with all my friends remembering the good old sleepovers we used to have at each other’s host families.

Stay posted, more to come!

And just for good measure:


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Fulfilling Those Random Urges

Yesterday I had the urge to paint. I finally gathered most of the art supplies from my parent’s house and constructed my easel, reorganized my set of acrylic paints, and washed brushes.

After all that preparation, I sat there thinking to myself, I don’t do anything with my hands.  I never make anything anymore.

When I was a little kid, we had an art center in my basement which filled my afternoons with endless sketching, painting, gluing, and ripping.  In high school I did ceramics and loved it. But in college and now in the working world, the most I do with my hands is type on my laptop (for almost 8 hours a day: OY!)  and cook.  This had to change.

So, I took my little 12×12 canvas and whipped out an amateur interpretation of winter trees. I’m definitely out of practice, but hopefully more pieces will come.

Any fun artistic things you all do in your free time? I’d love to hear ideas.

Mason jars make the world go round.

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Pasta Perfecto

Perrrrfect Pasta (not mine, but close in nature) - Photo by disneymike via Flickr

The easiest pasta (and some of the best tasting) revealed itself to me this evening.

Key components: Sauce, Cheese, Veggies, La Creuset Casserole Dish

Sauce: Ground beef, sauteed/carmelized onions, sauteed garlic, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, a slow cooker.  Let this simmer together for 7 hours. The lower the heat and the longer the time make all the difference.

Pasta: I used what was left in a box of rotini and a box of penne.  Mixing pasta makes the dish look pretty, BUT you need to make sure they cook in the same amount of time.  Bring water and salt to a boil.  Add pasta, cook for 9 minutes or until al dente.

Veggies: I like spinach, but you can use steamed zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard…whatever you will.  Add veggies into sauce in the casserole dish and apply low heat.  Toss together until veggies wilt.

Back to the pasta: Drain the pasta, add to the sauce/veggie mixture. Turn off the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Use fresh ground pepper. It’s worth it.

Cheese: My favorite part. I use mini mozzarella balls that are stored in water (keeps them fresher for longer).  Dump the mini mozzarella into the heated pasta and sauce mixture.  Grate pecorino romano and parmigiano reggiano into the casserole dish.  Mix in grated cheese and then top the mixture lightly with a final layer of either cheese.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Insert the covered casserole dish and let it bake for 15-18 minutes.  The cheese will be melty and glorious.

If you’re a loner like me, you can eat this for up to 3 days.  It makes the perfect easy (and healthy) lunch and dinner.

Eat up!

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Gay bars and Good Friends

"Do you think we'll dress like this when we get older?" Picture by Juhan Sonin via Flickr

You feel like you’ve made it (friend-wise) when you still keep in touch and regularly see your friends from nursery school.  I can proudly say that I’ve come to feel quite close to the several kids who were once screaming in diapers with me learning colors and shapes.

Now that we all have relocated out of Boston (mostly), we find it quite necessary to hang out whenever we get the chance.  Whether its on a break from med school, during Thanksgiving break, or an impromptu visit to a significant other, the timing always feels right and we’re guaranteed to have fun.

So, last night my good friend M decides we are going to meet up at what I think is the only gay sports bar in DC. We drank vodka tonics, margaritas, Guinness on tap…all the good stuff (but when mixed together makes for an ugly combination).  We watched the beautiful men walk into the bar dressed to the nines, greeting each other with the little European pecks.  We hit on our cute female waitress.  We drunkenly scarfed down french fries. We shivered in a little human ball as we rolled back to our car.

In so many ways I feel closer to these people than I ever have before.  Even though there is physical distance now and there was the elongated process of growing up in high school, we’ve come to recognize the common ground in each other.  The humor is similar. Our values nearly identical. How we have fun is mutually appreciated.  We’re all in it for the long haul, knowing that we’ll be hanging out in Florida sipping Mai Thais with each other someday as a geriatrics and remembering the days of Yom Kippur breakfasts and nursery school drama.  I can’t wait to see what happens in between.

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mobile phones and health care…who knew?

This is a BIG topic in maternal and global health generally.  The mHealth Alliance by the UN Foundation is holding a huge conference next week where Bill Gates is expected to speak.  Very exciting.

Here’s a blog post I’ve written for Women Deliver on mobile technology and how it can change health care systems for women.

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