Dead, but Excited

Do I look like I've had a bat mitzvah to you?

In November, I left the nonprofit where I worked for 13 months. I didn’t write about leaving, even though I started this blog around that time, and its namesake wouldn’t have come to be without my having worked there, either. But about a month before I left, the three of us full-time staff members represented our Jewish-affiliated organization at the JCCA’s Mitzvah Day, which was a mashugana of a misnomer. As a seasoned volunteer who wouldn’t have batted an eye at six hours of labor, I assumed that the advertised “day of service” implied, like, a lot of work, in order to, you know, do good. But hey, the Jews already did enough of that working for free stuff in Egypt to last for eternity! …Too soon?

It began at 10:00am with an hour-long breakfast of bagels and lox—Folks, if you’re here for scrambled eggs and bacon, you’re in the wrong place. The post-Mass hot meal for gentiles is in the basement of the church across the street—at the JCC on the Upper West Side. I rolled my eyes through a riveting discussion about altruism and the Torah. After letting my people go from the reception, it took forty-five minutes to trek across town to the senior home where a group of five or six of us spent a whopping ninety minutes spreading mulch around the building’s small backyard, concluding before 2:00pm.

Stuffed with tomatoes and tea, my group made a pit stop at the JCC’s bathroom before our exodus to the Upper East Side. Walking in, one of the girls sighed and explained how tired the workweek had left her. Realizing that she was not trying to sound pitiful, and was in fact looking forward to the day’s festivities, she stated offhandedly, “I’m dead. But excited!” And it stuck.

It’s a peculiar thing to say, which is why I love it. In the literal sense, these two states of being are mutually exclusive. You can’t be both dead and excited at the same time, unless maybe you die having a heart attack during sex (which, by the way, is fully how I expect Hugh Hefner to go any day now, so step up to place your bets on his cause of death, ladies and gentlemen). In the colloquial sense, it captures a sentiment I feel most of the time. It’s cynical, yet optimistic. It’s like I’m ever humping my proverbial baggage up a proverbial hill I ever anticipate will render my life awesome once summited.

My blog isn’t called Vegalicious, it’s name isn’t a play on my favorite movie quote, song lyric, or concept of Nietzsche’s, and the title was neither coined during a moment I am particularly fond of, nor by a person whose name I even remember. (Stephanie? I made that up just now.) But that’s the story, and as for the name—I’m still happy with it three months later, so at least there’s that.



Vokashi month one

Two days before I became vegan, I watched Vegucated, Forks Over Knives, and Earthlings in rapid succession. My fact-finding missions are often cram sessions, from breezing through five travel memoirs in a few weeks, to reading thirty tabs worth of related Wikipedia articles in one evening. So when I suddenly craved some environmental impact education over a weekend in December, I watched No Impact Man, Tapped, and Bag It.

Each of the documentaries was fascinating, if not positively horrifying (re: our plastic usage), but what stuck out the most was that Colin and his family composted all of their food waste in No Impact Man. They did so by using soil and live worms in an everyday, clear plastic bin. It bred flies and smelled, well, exactly how you’d imagine pounds of rotting food would. But the concept of indoor composting intrigued me, and I thought that in New York City, home of Mother Nature’s I-wear-washable-maxi-pads-I-buy-on-Etsy hipster offspring, surely there must be other, odor-free options.

A few minutes of googling later, I found Vokashi. It’s a Brooklyn-based company that employs a Japanese method of fermenting waste without air and uses the compost at community gardens around the city. My roommate and I agreed that we were more than happy to pay the $40 a month for Vokashi to arm us with a thick-lidded, recyclable bucket (and bran to layer in with every few inches of waste) and pick it up and replace it with an empty one once a month.

I used to feel guilty when I lacked the appetite for a leftover dish or produce grew mold before I could eat it — with a Jewish grandma, who wouldn’t. Now I don’t have to feel bad for discarding otherwise edible food, along with orange peels, asparagus bottoms, and coffee grounds. I’m saving food from biodegrading sadly in a landfill to no human or polar bear’s benefit, one bucket at a time!

Photo Copyright Vokashi

As a dutiful recycler already, now I’m sure that I throw away much, much less than the 4.43-pound-per-day national average. Although I still fish through our trash to pick out the food that my roommate haphazardly tosses in there—whereas I will drain the brine from a pickle jar with glee, just to retain the peppercorn and dill seeds for the bucket—it’s been a successful first month using Vokashi. Now that I’ve adopted this apartment composting lifestyle, I hope to move on to reducing purchases of single-serving packaging and things that come in non-recyclable plastic containers, frequenting greenmarkets more often (with my loyal Cath Kidston tote), and (buying and then) remembering to bring a Clean Kanteen coffee mug with me for Starbucks runs.

Love Being Vegan

My first Conscious Box!

Oh, hi, Alicia! How nice of you to stop by your own blog every two months or so!

Now that I’ve passively owned up to starting a blog that I updated for exactly twelve days before going MIA for eight weeks, we can move on to the purpose of this post, which is to tell you all that I love being vegan so very much. I am a passionate vegan — and those are words that made me want to puke not more than seven and a half months ago when I first became one. I love meeting other vegans, I love telling people why they should be vegan, and I love eating vegan food.

Which is why Zach, my boyfriend, got me exactly and exclusively a million little vegan things for Christmas: two flavors of vegan queso, two flavors of gourmet ketchup (I love ketchup so much that I put ketchup on my ketchup), a vegan cookbook, a vegan muffin cookbook (the greatest!), liquorice, and a 6-month subscription to a vegan Conscious Box. Well guess what, fishes? My first box came today.

Inside, I found products that even if I have heard of, I haven’t tried, which is precisely why Zach bestowed upon me this subscription — because he knows that I love trying (sampling, like a pu pu platter, except all the time) new things more than anything else in the world. I am someone who cannot resist making puppy eyes to score a bite of dinner off your plate, will whisper if I can sneak a taste your roommate’s snacks, and pretends to be indecisive to justify coming back for a second or third free sample at Whole Foods.

The Conscious Box included: a caramel apple flavored Happy Squeeze Treat, a packet of mustard bath, hemp seeds, a protein bar, a glass straw, a sample of a superfruit drink called Koopuwa, and a few other things. But the fine people at Conscious Box could have forgotten to include all of that and instead have sent me only one of the things in the box, and it would have still been amazing.

Hail Merry

Because holy balls, Hail Merry chocolate macaroons are the most delicious dessert EVER! I want to devour all of them that exist on Earth! You’ve got to run to your local healthy food store as though your life depends on it (because it 100% does), and buy them immediately! Or, if you live in Oklahoma, or it’s three in the morning, or you have a broken talus, take the sedentary, but equally wise, approach and order them in bulk online, after which a man in a drab brown uniform will deliver them to your doorstep, and if you can unstick yourself from the couch, you can snatch the box from his grasp, tear open the seal even before he clomps to the bottom of your stoop, and gobble them up like Cookie Monster in a bakery’s kitchen.

What are you waiting for?

A Primer for the Punctuation of A Rarely Silent Person

A photo I know I took when Casey* and I were in Central Park in February 2007. At press time, this was as related a photo as I could muster.

On Saturday, my best friend, Casey*, arrived in New York from Canada for a nearly three-week visit, en route to Switzerland. Casey and I were roommates in 2006, during a brief collegiate pitstop that lasted all of six weeks (both our being roommates and my enrollment at the college). We have remained close ever since, whether it’s sitting together for hours inside of an animal hospital, or subsisting on calling-card assisted weekly chats across transnational borders. Before Saturday, I hadn’t seen her in over a year and a half!

Although we have spoken on the phone at length quite frequently, more so lately than ever in the two and a half years since she graduated and moved back home, I was still surprised by just how long two people can really carry on talking. The conversation was more equally contributed to over the weekend than it has been in the past, as I’m used to taking the credit for–shocker, I know–doing more than my fair share of arranging sounds together that form words in the mutually-understood language that is spoken by the most people in the United States of America.

She left me yesterday evening to the quietly noisy, relaxed intensity (Edward Albee’s words) of my own company. Not wanting to go another week without posting something on my infant blog save for a Friday, I started looking through my writing folder again to see if there was anything appropriate to post. I happened upon a short piece that I wrote for a creative writing class in 2008 (during which my friend Yana and I met). It was a variation on a theme of Jonathan Safran Foer’s “A Primer for the Punctuation of Heart Disease,” originally published in the New Yorker on June 10, 2002.

Foer’s piece is wonderful and deep, while mine doesn’t do it justice and isn’t very good, but I have been struggling in the past few weeks to write about some important thoughts of my own. Contributing to the difficulty is my ability and propensity to talk instead of write, because the more I talk, the more I come to understand. The more I understand, the less I need to write in order to understand, and the more I need to re-write in order to write well enough to share.

Given all of that, here is “A Primer for the Punctuation of A Rarely Silent Person,” written in October 2008 (and to be transparent, edited today). Looking back at my writing, I’ve noticed that during college, I had a tendency towards writing cop out-ish, inconclusively abrupt endings, and this one is no exception. However, I think that of all, the last sentence is the most honest and funny, with my finding the elderly’s projected shared wonderment at new media utterly repulsive still being so true to this day.

The “silence mark” signifies an absence of language. It’s extremely common in my life. Whenever I’m home alone, this mark is always there. Note the use of the silent mark in the following conversation with myself.

The “singing mark” can be used in place of the “silence mark,” usually when the “silence mark” is too boring or impossible to maintain. The “singing mark” is often used when walking home from the park or while sitting in the bathroom. It signifies a moment when I have a song stuck in my head, and I sing the same couple of lines over and over. The song could be anything from Britney Spears’s “Womanizer” to Donna Fargo’s “The Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.” This mark is most often used when no one else is around, which also means temporarily converting the “singing mark” into the “silence mark” when passing people on the street, even though no one else can hear me.

The “waiting mark” is used when trying to be patient. It can be used while waiting for my turn to speak in class, or while waiting politely to hear someone’s response in a conversation.

The “distracted silence mark” is most commonly attributed to my boyfriend. This silence occurs when he isn’t paying attention to me, because he is distracted by the internet, his Kindle, or nearly anything else that isn’t my face.

“So, what do you want to do for dinner tonight?”

“I said, what do you want to do for dinner tonight? I’m hungry. What do you want?

“If you don’t respond, I’m just going to make something for myself, and you’ll be hungry.”
“Huh? Oh. Whatever’s fine.

The “frustrated mark” is similar to the “waiting mark,” except it implies impatience while waiting. For example, when my hand is raised in class, but I am not called on, and I want to blurt out an answer or a question (a recurring action that partly defined my childhood).

The “bored mark” appears whenever I force a silence because I am tired of a conversation, and am signaling for a subject-change or it’s swift conclusion by another participant. It is usually punctuated by a sigh and lack of eye contact.

The “ignore mark” is used whenever I don’t want to talk to someone, like a disheveled man on the street who is asking too many questions about my dog, or an older woman who starts talking to me in the middle of a lecture, and then again after the lecture, when I’m packing up my stuff, trying to get the heck out of there. If a conversation includes the “ignore mark” anywhere within it, verbal responses will be short, complete with blank stares or looking down, if continued participation is forced. Here is how the conversation went with the older woman. I’d never seen nor spoken to her before she sat behind me in linguistics one day. She caught me unwilling and unaware as she suddenly began chatting away after class, as I was fixing to rush to my next class with less than 10 minutes to spare.

“Are you a linguistics major?”
“No, I’m a media major.”
“Oh! I took this class, Understanding New Media, last semester, have you taken that?”

“No, I don’t really need that.

*Casey is not her real name. She has asked that I call her something different on my blog.

Five Feet Short #2

I keep rewriting the post I meant to have had up earlier this week, but I haven’t been able to get to the point yet. In the meantime, you’ll have to endure the second issue of Five Feet Short, and laugh. Doesn’t your life suck?

I don’t want a TV show that’s set in my home where people will mock me, mock my life, mock everything I believe in. I don’t want some publisher to tell me what to write. And I certainly do not want a TV channel to forbid me to write about political and religious views I may or may not have. If I God dammit mother Mary Christ Jesus David Cameron Loreal Chanel Dior and all of the Max Factors in the world want to mention a brand that’s not one of the TV channels sponsors I get sued … Hello, it’s my blog.
Yvonne Eijkenduijn, on her blog Yvestown, one of my longtime favorites, 10/24/12

  • So much interior. Why do we need it? Why don’t we rent it to China or something?
    Chat with Sarah, after seeing all of those red states on election night, 11/6/12

This is the true story of a Monroe College student sent to the Dominican Republic, to work for ten days and have himself photographed, to find out what happens when people stop being even a little bit smart and start getting real... The Real World.I’ve seen this ad on the subway countless times, but during the most recent moment that my eyes have had the delight of taking in its vogue design, I realized just how very hilarious it was. How, pray tell, is working as a medical assistant for ten stupid days AS REAL-WORLD AS IT GETS? You know what I think it’s as real world as? MTV’s The Real World. So if that’s what you meant, Monroe College, which I’m sure you did, then, good job. This dude is totally ready. (Click for larger image. And don’t forget to hover your mouse over the thumbnail for the alt text.)

Two thoughts, one long subway ride home. Not a minute after I stopped laughing at Monroe College did a man peddling candy proceed into my car. His elevator pitch was a little different than the “please help me stay off the streets” spiel I’m used to hearing, especially the part where he suggested to all of us that his candy will be “yummy in your tummy.” That’s when I came up with Michelle Obama’s (congrats, by the way) next obesity campaign. The text will read, “Yummy in your tummy? It’s only yummy in your mouth, ya dummy!” positioned over a photo of this kid, maybe? Remember, this is the family-friendly version. Otherwise, it would simply read, “You fat fuck!”

Rejected First Post

I took this photo on 5/11/11, so I thought it was appropriate

I have a folder on my computer of all my writing over the past four years, most of which are long, paragraphless ramblings about relationships and feelings that are as foreign to me now as Azerbaijani. Twice in the past year and a half I wrote a first blog post, and, wisely, did not take the steps to set up a blog that I knew I wouldn’t maintain. But old writing is always entertaining to read, and I seek to publish much of it on my blog. So here’s the first, first post, originally written on 5/12/11:

Oh, hi.

Lately, a lot of people have suggested to me that I write. I’m sure the “adults” in my life, like my therapist (who I love!) and my aesthetician (AKA my second therapist slash fairy godmother), meant that I ought to keep a journal. Because that’s what people who were born before the introduction of the countertop microwave oven and who grew up with Larry Page and Sergei Brin’s parents tend to suggest.

But I was always the girl in school who used a computer to write out her homework, I take typing tests for fun, and my left arm feels a faint ache every time I merely think of putting a pen in my hand to do more than sign a check to Time Warner Cable (there’s a good joke in here somewhere about how every time I pay my bill, an angel gets Lyme disease, but I’m too distracted by the fact that cable costs $60 per month, and I still can’t watch No Reservations). These wrists were made for typing, and that’s just what they’ll do. One of these days these fingers are gonna write all about you!

So, here we are. I know my friends will get a kick out of this at least, and it’ll put those gchat logs and Facebook messages to good use. I don’t think my life smells as bad as the dirty laundry of someone who recently stepped out of a Bikram yoga studio, say, but I’ve got my fair share of witty commentary about online dating and Twitter direct messages to last me at least a couple of weeks until I get tired of the tone of my own rhetoric and e-mail myself asking if I can just shutthefuckup.

Five Feet Short #1

Prologue: People laugh at what I say because it’s completely obvious and true that I never intended what was said to be funny in the first place.

I have a need to share humorous and noteworthy things with the world, but rarely are they made for their own entries. This isn’t Tumblr, after all. So I started a list, and every Friday, I will post the past week’s things that I want to share, including, but not limited to links, thoughts, observations, facts, quotes, photos, Facebook statuses, tweets, and–this doesn’t need to be said–anything else I want. Have you ever noticed that when someone says that something doesn’t need to be said, they say it anyway? I did that here, on purpose, to prove a point.

I am calling this series Five Feet Short, with five representing the number of imperial units called feet between any given floor or ground covering and the top of my head. And if it pleases you, you can read all of these shorts in rapid succession via the link on the sidebar.

Here are THINGS! I say things a lot.

  • My grandma is too fancy for short form names. She moved down to Florida just weeks ago and wrote in an email, “Weren’t we lucky to have missed Sandra?”
    Facebook status update, 10/31/12
  • When trying to Rick Roll someone, it is best to use a link that does not embed a video with “Rick Astley” in the title. Just a thought.
    my comment on my ex-boyfriend Ben’s Facebook status, in which he was jokingly trying to convince me that my car was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy, 10/31/12
  • I lost my namesake Twitter handle! I used to be @aliciahurst, but I changed it to @aliciainthecity last year, AND NOW A 14 YEAR OLD GIRL HAS IT. This is my biggest failure in life to date.
    Facebook status update, 11/1/12
  • I just discovered that Honey Boo Boo also likes her spaghetti with butter and ketchup.
    my friend Colin’s Facebook status update, 11/2/12
  • omg omg omg all of a sudden it smells like old people in my apartment, what happened!?!?!
    chat with Yana, 11/2/12

church music explOsionIn mid-October, my good friend and fellow designer, Yana, introduced me to famous organist-cum-80s-style-TV-show-host, Diane Bish. Suffering from secondhand embarrassment throughout, we watched her Public Access Television videos on YouTube, one of which was an interview featuring Diane’s latest book, Church Music Explosion. The description of the book is as follows: “How to begin and run a church concert series; Building an audience for tomorrow/children’s demonstrations; Playing the worship service; Conducting choir rehearsal; Choral, organ repertoire list; Educating congregation to music.” EXPLOSION! If the title doesn’t double you over in laughter, or, at least, if you can’t conceive of how inconsolably doubled over I was when I saw that, then you have no soul.

Added Yana, “I like how the O is big.”