cowgrrrl blues

rants, tall tales, and meanderings from a wander-lust, activist, cowgrrrl extrordinaire

Sunday, September 24, 2006

update from the west coast

it's been awhile, i know. but so much has happened these days. there's little time to write. little time to sit peacefully with my computer and beethoven and a glass of red wine. just finished watching 'american splendor,' which has been sitting in my room for over a week. maybe, netflix is not really for me? in any case, i laughed out-loud at a few points, knew that it was time to return to the old blog for a bit of updating, storytelling.

california treats me well. people ask me, "how long do you plan on staying here?" i can't help myself, but respond, "maybe, forever." it's true. the air is fresh, makes me breathe deeply and feel empty and full all at once. absolutely perfect. this morning i ran a 5k to raise money for breast cancer. i raced in memory of my grandmother who lived with me in high school. she died when i was seventeen. in a twist of irony, today she would have turned 70 years old. my lifelong hero would have been 70 years old today, but instead i am here breathing in deep gulps of california air with out her. finally, i think i am okay with that.

i managed to snag the coolest job. this past week marked the beginning of my career as a "policy analyst" for homebase, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness. when i went for my interview a few weeks ago, i gave a long explanation of the idea i have for starting a nonprofit. basically, my dream organization would bridge grassroots and advocacy centers. at the end of my rap, the interviewer said, "that's cool. that's basically our model." can you believe that? my idea exists! and they hired me! if you want to check us out, our website is

in other news, i visited yvonne is san diego. the pic of yvonne and karl was actually taken in maine a month ago. the other two: me at the coast in torrey pines and me at this fabulous restaurant called "spread." spread is a restaurant in san diego that is completely vegetarian and specializes in edible flowers. all the food is picked that day. the combinations are crazy. among other things, we ate blue potato tacos with lavender guacomole. for dessert, dark chocolate fondue with fresh fruit and rose petals. yes, we dipped rose petals in chocolate and ate them. absolutely decadent. as for yvonne, she is fabulous. she's moving to new york city next month to live with my very own karl pilato. a match made in heaven compliments of kristina and yours truly.

it's hard to say exactly what's happened here, but i spoke to my mother today and she said i've sounded happier in the last few weeks than i've sounded in the last seven years. it's true, i think. everything expands, feels possible, inspires me. there is more to say, but at the moment i don't even think i need/want to explain. it's cool to just smile.

Friday, August 18, 2006


alas, i have made it to the great city of san francisco. charlie and i had a splendid adventure across the states. here's a breakdown of the week's events.

we started in brooklyn. while a u-haul would have been cool, old ida (charlie's '84 mercedes) just wouldn't have it. so, we feverishly mailed all our stuff via fedex. i heart fedex. don, our fedex super-hero, really helped us out, so we managed to leave town on time.

day 1: we left early in the morning, grabbed bagels in new jersey, and made it to fallingwater by lunchtime. mr. wright's masterpiece was ever so lovely. the house is, indeed, over a river. fabulous. afterwards, we made it to dayton, ohio where amanda and brian made us a splendid meal. did you all know that brian makes bread from scratch...regularly? it's delicious. i recommend a visit to their house, which is fabulous. also, amanda and mr. b's dog (porter) is ball of puppy energy that no one could resist loving.

day 2: drove to chicago and met up with tarkan, my high school sweetheart. the best part of chicago, besides tarkan's hospitality, was the local watering hole- buffalo bar. good variety of beers, hot lesbian bartenders, and a crazy dude that talked our ears off for about 45 minutes. here's the thing about the crazy guy--much of what he said made sense until he started talking about his next invention...nuclear fission. nuclear fission, huh? iintterrressting.

day 3: we managed to find the most delicious breakfast joint called 'egg harbor cafe' in some weird planned community. i ate this crepe, egg, avacoda thing that was perfect. it's odd when you find cool things in uncool places. a welcomed odd occurrence, but odd nonethless. afterwards, we started north. our second stop was a cheese shop in wisconsin. so idyllic. we bought cheese that was dusted with cocoa powder. cheese + chocolate = happy campers. i asked the shopkeeper, "what exactly is a dell? like the song about the farmer and the dell." a dell is a valley for those of you who also wonder. made it to minneapolis-st. paul before dark and tried a fancy italian restaurant with charlie's brother steven and steven's girlfriend jeannie. favorite line from steven. "we live across the street from the mall, the best buy, and the [chain] grocery store. what more could you want?" steven, you make me smile. just so you know, i would want a local coffee shop, a health food store, and a nice park with trees. to each his own, though. all i can say is that the hospitality, again, was unbeatable.

day 4: we make the trek across south dakota. first stop was the corn palace in mitchell, south dakota. what is a corn palace, you ask. we wondered the same thing. a corn palace is stadium with murals made out of corn. fascinating! we also tried to support the local coffee shop rather than going to pizza hut. the barista did not quite understand the difference between iced coffee and iced lattes, so i ended up spending over $4 on an iced coffee. of course, the only vegetarian option was egg salad sandwhiches. charlie just about died from disgust. sometimes it sucks to have principles. but, charlie, the sacrifice was worth it. second stop was the ever-famous wall drug. for those of you who have made the south dakota drive, no explanation is needed, i know. for those of you not familiar with the drive, think of all those 'south of the border' signs when you drive to florida. this is like that. hundreds of signs leading you to this tourist trap that you can't resist. it's a huge drug store-novelty store type thing. again, fascinating! with one stop in rapid city before we headed into the black hills, charlie and i drove around the twisty bends of custer state park for about 2 hours in the pitch black night before finally finding our campground.

day 5: custer state park is beautiful, really utterly beautiful. we hiked 'little devil's tower,' a steep, craggy trail, to the top of a peak. amazing view from the top. i wish i had a digital camera to upload the shots. you're just going to need to take my word for it. afterwards, we visited crazy horse monument. crazy horse is basically the same idea as mt. rushmore but a native american statue instead of dead presidents. it's kinda cool, but kinda weird because white folks run the joint. we ate indian tacos there (one of my childhood favorites) and bought cool books about native americans. then, we went down to sylvan lake and read our new books. we also tried to swim, but it was quite cold to say the ice water, really. oh! i must also mention that we happened to be in south dakota during the big motorcycle rally that happens every year in sturgis. as such, charlie and i were camping, touristing, eating, etc. with the bikers. yeah, we're hip.

day 6: we made our way across the bighorn mountains and shoshone park, where buffalo bill is from, to yellowstone national park. much to my delight, we immediately saw bison. for some reason, charlie was never terribly impressed with the bison, but i think they're awesome. we set up camp and had a relatively good night's sleep.

day 7: this is our big touristy day. i will condense it by saying that we saw the usual yellowstone stuff. (mammoth hot springs, various paint pots, mud pots, hot springs.) it was great. the thing that wasn't great was the weather that night. charlie and i froze. there is no other way to describe it except to say that it was the worst night of sleep i have ever experienced. hard ground, not enough sleeping bag, rain and a leaky tent, not to mention the extremely cold air. here i was thinking that it was summer. hmmm.

day 8: charlie and i realized that we could not handle another day in yellowstone (as per the plan) because the sleeping conditions were truly unbearable. we took a nap in the sunshine then headed out. we drove, drove, drove. stopped in idaho falls at a microbrewery. then drove, drove, drove. made it to san francisco at 8am.

so, here i am. that's the story. i enjoyed it. hopefully, it wasn't too boring to read about.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

my new lady love

thanks to drew, i've been listening to some good *new* tunes while studying (new to me, anyway). do check her out. my favorite song: tell the boys. some things really are worth a good when a boy screws your best chic friend over, that boy deserves a good kick in the shin and a spit in the face. no names, richard. oh. my bad.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

from hell

i'm utterly disheartened these days. studying for ye ol' bar exam hath brought me down. i listened to ani on the way home. she always reminds me that i'm tough. and i chatted with charlie. he reminded me that it's all a conspiracy by the powerful, white-male elite...that's a lot coming from a white dude who grew in a fancy part of virginia. together, ani and charlie reminded me that it's not me. they call it the good fight for a reason; there's a lot to be fighting against. so, in solidarity with all you lovely liberals who inspire me infinitely, i promise that regardless of my november results, i will seriously be kicking some ass come august. these punks have pissed off the wrong chic. as utah phillips said, "as i looked around, i knew that it was all wrong, that something had to change. and that change had to begin with me."

Saturday, April 29, 2006

may day thoughts continued

going along with the spanish national anthem post, i want to comment on monday's events. for those of you who don't yet know, there's gonna be big boycott and protest on monday for immigrants' rights. one of my local buritto places is shutting down "in solidarity." (sweet!) in other good news, the california senate just endorsed the boycott. here's what some of the senators had to say...

Several senators equated the protest with the civil rights movement of the 1960s and other major events in American history.

Segregation was ended in part because of the public bus boycott by blacks in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955, said Romero.

Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, likened the debate over immigrant rights to the fights over slavery, women's suffrage, the internment of Japanese during World War II, and the Vietnam War.

America wouldn't have been created without illegal action, said Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys. "They dumped a bunch of tea in Boston harbor, illegally. God bless them," he said.

...god bless them, indeed! anyone in the local area interested in taking to the streets with me, pull out your white t-shirt and give me a ring. 4pm in union square.

charlie and i are expecting!

being the uber-feminist that i am, there was no way i was going to carry around the little rascal.

chinga tu madre, mr. bush!

the new york times has an article on bush weighing in on the debate about the spanish version of the national anthem. this is what he said...

Asked at a news briefing in the Rose Garden on Friday whether he believed the anthem would have the same value in Spanish as it did in English, Mr. Bush said flatly, "No, I don't."

"And I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English," Mr. Bush said. "And they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English."

...rrriiiight. it must be said that the national anthem is a poor choice for a national song in the first place. anything trumpeting war successes is suspect. the only thing mildly cool about the song is that the tune is from an old pub song. gotta love a bunch of drunks making merry.

second, (more importantly) the last i heard there's no official national language. i'm not sure how singing the national anthem in spanish lessens its value (whatever that value may be)...but what i think would be a great twist of irony would be making versions of the song in native american languages--the only truly indigenous tongues to this land, mr. bush.

the new york times has a link to the audio sample here.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the warrior princess

many of you know that i spent this past sunday at a memorial service for one of my professors. denise morgan passed away earlier this month at the age of 41, leaving behind a beautiful 3 year old daughter and a loving husband. beyond her young age and the difficulty ahead for her daughter, the real tragedy in this story is that the civil rights community has sustained a truly deep loss. professor morgan inspired me (and others) both with her passion for human equality as well as her energy for life more generally. she was brilliant, really...and utterly beautiful. i don't know quite what to write. i just wanted to say, "here was an amazing person."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

vegan chocolate cake

this is the simplest and most delicious recipe. susie b. makes it the best (uh...'cause it's her recipe). here are pics of the one charlie and i made this weekend sans frosting.

Kristina's Vegan 'Linen' Chocolate Birthday Cake!!!

2 cups sugar (unrefined brown, beet, cane...)
1 3/4 c. flour
3/4 c. cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Equivalent of 2 eggs (I use two tablespoons of ground flax seeds, mix the powder with water to make a frothy paste and add it right away).
1 c. soy, rice, or nut milk (rice or almond are tastiest)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pan, 1 round 9-inch spring-form cake pan (what I use), or one 9X13 square baking pan.

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add egg substitute, 'milk', oil, and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed (or by hand). Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

Pour into pans and bake for 30-35 for round and 35 to 40 minutes for square pan, or until fork comes out clean (I find it may take longer depending on the oven, how carefully you measured, etc. Each cake I bake comes out pretty different:)

Chocolate Frosting:
1 stick (1/2 c.) vegan margarine
2/3 c. cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. 'milk'
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Melt margarine. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speeh to spread consistency. Add more milk, if needed. Add vanilla. I refrigerate it a bit and wait for the cake to cool before slabbing it on, then decorate with berries, crystallized ginger, edible flowers, or whatever!