Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nostalgia from 3 months ago

This was sitting like a little orphan in my Outlook drafts box. It was at a very difficult time in 2008 when I thought I might be becoming lactose intolerant. I have since rejected this hypothesis. Please enjoy (, Cara).

disclaimer: these are disjointed scraps of thoughts not entirely sewed together. (Patchwork writing?)

My body is rejecting milk. My mom turned lactose intolerant in her 40s, so I figured if I was so unlucky as to follow in her genetic fate, at least I would be middle aged, probably so busy with kids and a job that I wouldn't have time to sit down and savor the white liquid heaven.

It all started (the love affair that is) in 1995.

When I was 10, my endocrinologist put me on the very scientific "whole milk diet." Whole milk accompanied every meal. I felt special confidently (and legally) sacheting into the Camp Pocono Ridge cafeteria kitchen, opening the massive institutional refrigrerator, and pulling out a half gallon of milk for me and my special needs.

It was my identity. It was me.

When I have a healthy portion of milk available, I will occasionally eat cake or cookies just so I can create the perfect milk-consuming environment in my mouth. I can gulp it down with a glass of milk. Nothing neutralizes and refreshes a buttery/sugary mouth like milk.

What I am saying is, this is more than just a beverage. This is who I am. It is my friend, and losing it will be a disaster.

But my heart will go on.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Me To You: Language Help

The expression is "buck naked," not "butt naked."


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Blogs to Riches

There's this new rags-to-riches fantasy permeating society. Rather than being discovered by Prince Charming and being perched into royalty or being discovered by a wealthy Jewish doctor and being lifted into temple-approved riches (or for the non-archaically gendered version of this, see: The American Dream), we can now be discovered by America by never leaving our houses, and then we can consequentially become legitimate, respected artists. Or at least [book-bound, sold-in-Borders] published writers. No agent or self-marketing required.

Unsuprisingly, my textbook example of this is Diablo Cody.

And a few days ago Christian Lander, the writer behind Stuff White People Like -- the blog I have been insatiably devouring for the last month -- just got a book deal with Random House.

Another case of democratized fame inching us closer and closer to social homeostasis. At least among the sect of "the right kind of White People."

Please click for the [cynically-inclined] timeline of events.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Monkey House Wisdom from Timothy Gunn

I was just re-watching last week’s episode of Project Runway – honestly out of boredom, not as a pre-gamer – however, I am certainly glad I did, because if I didn’t I may not have opened myself up to a 3 minute life pondering session courtesy of the bottomless wisdom residing in Tim Gunn’s brainsoul.

It went like this. So Chris March (the huggable and always good-spirited designer with a knack for ostentatious drag) is showing Tim his collection that he has accentuated with human hair. Tim is horrified. Chris says he loves it. In order for Tim to convey the negative shock value that this hair will elicit, he shares this analogy:

“I have this refrain about the monkey house at the zoo. When you first enter into the monkey house at the zoo, you think, ‘Oh my god this place stinks!’ And then after you’re there for 20 minutes you think, ‘it’s not so bad’ and after you’re there for an hour it doesn’t smell at all. And anyone entering the monkey house freshly thinks, ‘this stinks!’ You've been living in the monkey house.”

This little ditty can apply to anyyything. Feeling complacent with an unappealing job, relationship, life choice that we initially knew was against our best judgment, but we became accustomed to and comfortable in anyway.

Though when it comes down to it, the human hair looks pretty cool…especially the skirt version. Very modern flapper-esque. So on the flip side, perhaps sometimes we need to become desensitized to the immediate discomforts before we can open ourselves to gems that hide within. And perhaps they are gems we never sought out to gain. They just collide with our lives. Organically. In the monkey house. So sometimes it’s good not to let a little stench turn you away.

Monkey House: friend or foe? Circumstantial!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Making decisions is scary. Right you are, New York Times (2/26)

I have 3 potential life paths drawn up. At this point in their theoretical development, the options feel so clear that I could paint a picture of a grassy forest path that comes to a fork. The intersection branches into 3 paths. Each path is an option, and each path has pros and cons, and each path is attractive for its own reason. I have done plenty of work to pencil in the stops and sights to expect on each journey, yet I remain static at the tip of the stem. The second I move in one direction, if I change my mind, I will have to turn around. And to make a mistake and risk wasting precious life time and energy is very frightening. So I hesitate. Continuing to fine tune the details in each path, hoping something unexpectedly beautiful will pop up and simplify my decision. And perhaps this get-all-the-facts(-as-I-stall) method isn’t the worst approach, but sometimes you need to shut some doors.*

*thanks to Wendy for directing me to this delightful reading material.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cara Heller's current v-day thoughts:

-regifting a valentine is so mean!
-it is also mean to feed a lot of chocolate to singles, therefore destroying any near hope of having a valentine

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Candy is gooooooood

Last night I slurped down the last drop of Candy Girl that I left for myself. I wanted to gulp the entire thing over the weekend, but I knew that I had a little more food to munch on, so I left a small but satisfactory 1 inch pool at the bottom of my cup.

Quick overview of book: Diablo Cody (screenwriter of THE ART OF 2007, colloquially called Juno) wrote this little "memoir" pre-her in-demand Hollywood days. I use the word memoir lightly. While this is how the book is marketed, I tend to think of a memoir as a recounting of an experience after all of the meaning has sunk in. Diablo's experience to be logged was very much sought out for the purpose of written reporting. I'll call it a pseudo memoir. And I don't mean that in a demeaning way.

OK, so our heroine has this typical corporate "girl" job of monotony, and she decides to sign up for a stripper amature night for some kicks. Along the way she develops something of an addiction to the high she acquires from the experience of using nothing but her raw person to earn the dough. She jumps around the sex industry from strip club to strip club to strip club to sex store peep box to strip club to phone sex operation, etc etc.

Why is this good? I originally went into this book thinking it would be drenched in anthropological analysis. She had a suprisingly meager amount of analysis. While she commented excessively on every bizarre socially relevent observation, she didn't break it down into tiny molecules. What gave the book the worthwhile stamp is Diablo Cody's (now very) clear signature language. In the same vein as Juno, every observation is loaded with pop culture and high culture references. The kind that make you feel like you're nodding directly at the writer. You get it. You're in the club.

I wouldn't call it one big empty calorie. I learned a crapload about the sex industry. This knowledge will undoubtedly come in handy for obvious conversational reasons.

What else did I learn? A new angle on feminism. As someone that has fallen into the Women's studies, liberal frame of mind, when you hear about any livelihood that involves voluntarily objectifying oneself, you think: AWFUL. Sacrificing what we've earned to fall into what men have dictated. Except then you go back to the voluntary part. To strip is a choice. To choose to exploit the power that society has assigned to breasts, artificial tans, and applied friction is to take advantage of the system, and it makes logical sense. To do this without losing one's own sense of self is a different issue.

This is a pro-choice book.

Choose to dance naked and hump money out of horny men?
Choose to not get an abortion?*
Choose to not vote for Hillary because you don't like her leadership style?
Choose to not let the hammered-in rules of fundamental feminism dictate your decisions despite identifying oneself as a feminist?


*Juno has been called anti-feminist and anti-abortion. I believe it to be pro-choice.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Maybes are the worst, but noncommitment is how we grow up. I agree.

I wish I could fly out of my tattered collection of twigs and land in someone else’s.
I have partial memberships to a few others, but partial isn’t good enough.
And I build my own nest and send out invitations...
Sometimes on facebook,
But everyone else is just a maybe.
A nest is only as strong as its residents.

So I’ll hope the other nests don’t disappear.
And if they do, I’ll hide away in calcium carbonate,
And pull a few others in.
We'll hatch a new life.
And maybe
One day
A nest of our very own.

Originally my blog was not to resemble an LJ nor was it to focus exclusively on ME ME ME but on LIFE LIFE LIFE. When you read the excessive I's, think of them as a universal I. Not I as in Julie, I as in HUMANITY.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A letter to Hillary. Yours truly, Aunt Mollie

If you've never heard me talk about my Great Aunt Mollie, all you need to know is this: she's absolutely fabulous.

She is 95, but her universal ideals of equality and goodness transcend her age. About a week ago, while in the hospital mind you, she decided that Hillary Clinton could really use her advice. So she wrote her a letter. Not a letter about the war or really much about politics at all. A letter advising her not to partake in gossip. The unlikelihood of her words actually reaching the campaigning senator doesn't faze her. But to be on the realistic side, Aunt Mollie decided that if she doesn't hear back soon from Hill, she'll try to send it to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

So this past Monday, she passed a copy to me to read. To get the full experience, try to imagine it double spaced in font size 22. I give you, AUNT MOLLIE:

January 12, 2008 Honorable Senator Hillary Clinton,

I am 95 years old so you must realize I have lived almost a century of experiences. In all that time I never missed a single voting opportunity. There were good times and there were bad ones. But at the worst, not as bad as today.

When I heard on the radio that you were thinking of being a candidate for the presidency, my feeling was--maybe this is the solution.

I think you are a caring, sympathetic, and smart lady. Experience you have, if even second hand.

There have been very many great ladies going back to Deborah in the Bible. Later, Margaret Thatcher, Mrs. Roosevelt, Indira Ghanda, and Golda Meir. My fervent prayer is that you would not stoop to innuendo, rumors, gossip. And when confronted you would look them in the eye and say-- "I will not stoop to this. I only want to talk about what I want to accomplish." And every time this comes up just repeat this reply. And you could quote a leader who once said, "let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

I also thought you stress the fact that no matter what you promise it cannot be accomplished without a senate and a House to accomplish it.

Senator, you have a daughter and maybe progeny later. Do you want them to live in this kind of country? I have 2 children, 6 grandchildren, and 4 great-grandchildren--and I grieve for their future. So please-- Ignore the bombasts, the criticisms and come to the facts only. Show the world that you are what you really are. I shall close with our most beautiful word, "Shalom."

Aside from the fact that her message is solid -- gossiping is a no no. True story -- the internal inhibitions that hold back people's voices -- age, gender, seeming ordinary-ness, fear -- are not factors to Aunt Mollie. She believes that her opinion is of worth, so she makes it heard in the best medium that she can find. And she never censors herself. And she's always learning. And she adores Judaism and infuses it into her messages, but never lets blind faith stupify her sensibility. And that is why I think she's absolutely fabulous.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Lorde and the Democratic Candidates

If you took Oprah and made her a lesbian and a poet that came of age in the 1950s, and you gave her the breadth of insight that coming from that world of multi-faceted oppression yields, you would have Audre Lorde: a woman who’s last name does her a lot of justice. For coming from such a seemingly narrow niche of humanity, her insight is applicable to every arena of life. Her main principle is this: live wholly and own everything about you.

As children we are socialized to disassociate from the different pieces of who we are that might seem weird, and we prop each fragment of ourselves up with a disclaimer: “I was just having a nerdy moment…a ditzy moment…a deep moment.” We give more power to the seeming transience of our emotions than to our actual being. No, we weren’t just having a nerdy moment, a ditzy moment, or a deep moment. We embody all of those descriptions. We each have strong passions that build up and burst over. Some concepts are hard to grasp and that doesn’t make us stupid. And everyone has some frame of reference based on how they grew up that gives them tremendous insight…about something. We market ourselves with edited language that fits in with social norms, and by doing this we miss out on representing the best part of ourselves: our weirdness.

When relaying these ideas of embracing weirdness and seeking wholeness to the task of identifying the qualities that make a woman a “STRONG WOMAN,” I find that the women that repeatedly appear on my list have married the academic and the emotional. By breathing passion into raw knowledge and experience, Natalie Angier makes science provocative and relevant and sexy. Why be either a technician or an artist, when being both is so inspiring? And is this yardstick of wholeness and power equally applicable to both genders? And how does this implicate who is a better choice (for those who are politically leaning in this direction): Hillary or Obama.

Hillary has made a case for herself out of discipline and knowledge, Obama out of passion. Both of them clearly also embody the half that their PR platform lacks, but is it enough? And can we really know? At first I was rolling my eyes at the democratic debates, because all they seemed to do was personally attack each other instead of the issues and rah rah we all know it should be about the issues, but because their stances are so similar, this is a battle of character. And identity and race and gender, but only because these backgrounds inform who these candidates are: it’s a delicious sociology seminar wrapped into modern history.

What is more important, passion or knowledge? Knowledge can be taught and hired and is absolutely essential for laying the foundation of an exceptionally functional administration (in any arena), but the overarching tip should be ignited with passion. Especially now when we have this unusual window of nearly-universally wanting such change that we might be able to actually elect something so out of the box.

And I want out of the box. Not out of the box in terms of race or gender. But out of the box in terms of character and passion. And right now Obama just gives me the warm fuzzies.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Matters" follow-up

Reading Shopgirl makes me feel enclosed and depressed (solid)*, but listening to a Diablo Cody** interview causes me to internalize and echo her effervescent voracity for pop culture observation (gas). Eating a fresh meal -- one that Sara’s beloved Michael Pollan would greatly approve – makes me feel easy-going and content (liquid). Get it?

*Doesn’t mean I don’t like it. The character development happens to yield those feelings. And art that yields any type of emotion is good.

**other sidenote: my new best friend Brian-from-the-Philadelphia-free-library is ordering “the Philadelphia Community” (read: me) 5 copies of Candy Girl. Grab ‘em!

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Solid, liquid, and gas are different states of the same material. The state is dependent on the movement of the molecules. Slow, content ones are packed, secure, and definite. Slightly antsy ones are still visible, but they easily mold into whatever situation they find themselves. And the nutters that are all over the place are invisible and occasionally undetectable. Though sometimes you add a sensual marker and everyone knows you're there, albeit from artificial sources.

But nothing is permanent. With a flip of surroundings you can freeze into a rigid lattice or dance around uncontrollably. And you can switch back and forth. Some things might get stuck in you, and you might lose droplets of volume along the way, but basically--regardless of form--you are you.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Important info re: America's Choice

If you are deciding between Superfresh brand (very appropriately called AMERICA*S CHOICE) s'more breakfast pasrties vs. Pop Tart brand breakfast pastries, I strongly advise in this scenario that you go with Pop Tart brand. America is chalky and crumbly (in the bad way).

More importantly, how did Superfresh have the balls to market their products as "America's Choice." Very American.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Two people on a couch sit with their backs facing each other. Each person is furiously typing on a laptop. Respective typing becomes less sporadic and rhythmic exchange between the two becomes apparent. Back and forth. To the right: Type. Enter. Wait. To the left: Type. Enter. Wait. Laughs occasionally synchronize. Individuals never turn to face each other. Belly laughter peaks, subsides, and is replaced by subtle smirks. Facial expressions become suggestive. Deep typer’s hunch. Assymetrical symmetry. Definite periods of mutual writers block. Palpable awkwardness. Typing exchange pumps and shrivels in bursts. Rhythm picks up. Pace escalates. Recedes again. Less typing. Less typing. Less typing. Both parties turn 180 degrees and romantically entwine.

El fin.