The Summer of George! Or, Summer 2011

Jaime : Summer :: 14-Year-Old Girl : Her First Boyfriend.

If summer was a cute boy, I’d want to make out with him all the time, bake him cookies and doodle his name over every flat surface I could find – TRU LUV 4EVER.

Sorry Andy Williams, but you’re wrong. Mid May to early September is the most wonderful time of the year.

I grew up in England where summer lasts for about three short, albeit glorious weeks. That being the case, the English celebrate it with wild abandon — Pimms and pints in outdoor pubs, stripping down your skivvies and sunbathing on lawns and a total thawing of frosty English reserve.

If there’s one thing a pasty Englishman knows how to do, it’s rock the shit out of an 80 degree…I mean, 27 degree day.

Moving to South Florida spoiled me rotten. Is this heaven? No, it’s West Palm.

Then, I met Augs and moved to the Philly suburbs which reignited my appreciation for the summertime. Especially after my first brutal winter where I learned that your back actually aches from the cold and that coffee doesn’t warm you up as much as it just makes you pee.

Summer is almost here again and I am ready to celebrate.

I’m going to drink iced coffee, read/eat/blog al fresco love eating and get tan again – the creases at my elbows so dark, they’re almost blue.

I’m going to paint my nails creamsicle orange, wear frocks and flip-flops and wake up on balmy Sunday mornings, fling open the windows and listen to Chet Baker.

It’s official. Summer 2011 is the Summer of George!

And by George, I mean Jaime for I am not Costanza, Lord of the Idiots.

I have two big plans for Summer 2011:

A) Crossing off a good chunk on my 29 Before 29 List.

I started learning how to play guitar when I was eighteen – hanging out on a cute boy’s driveway, plucking at Super Slinkies and eventually figuring out how to play Frere Jacques and the opening to Stars by Hum. Ten years later. I’ll still be strumming outside but this time, sans cute boy and driveway; avec instructional manual and patio.

I figure I can also double up on a couple of these:

Make Vietnamese Iced Coffee (#5) and drink it outside during guitar lessons (#2).

Eat lunch by myself (#6) while reading an American classic (#3) — I’m thinking A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway and Tender is the Night by my boy Fitzgerald, but would love some recommendations.

B) Visiting Los Angeles.

I’ll be in L.A.for eleven days and I couldn’t be more stoked.

I’m hoping to dip my feet in the Pacific, take a picture of Augs and myself in front of the Hollywood sign (Dudes, I’m a tourist), check out the Paley Center for Media, eat crispy animal style fries from In-N-Out

Untitled by punctuatedUntitled, a photo by punctuated on Flickr.

Yes. I actually want to eat this.

and see at least one celebrity…probably some random broad that Vinnie Chase dated in the second season of Entourage.

So far, Summer 2011 is shaping up to be a pretty decent one and I cannot wait to spend some quality time together.

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It’s Been A Summer, Or Summer 2010 – A Recap

Happy (almost) Labor Day! It’s the unofficial end of summer and the beginning of fall.

Bloggers across the country seem stoked about this — the Pumpkin Spice Latte makes a triumphant return at Starbucks, the weather starts getting nippier, hoodies are pulled out from hibernation and everyone’s all in a tizz about seeing the colors change.

Everyone except for me. ‘Cause you know what? I hate fall.

Fine, Fine. I don’t hate fall. I mean, apple cider is delicious, I am all about the start of fall television and Thanksgiving? My favorite holiday ever (Let’s get together every year and eat tons of carbs? Give me the address and do you like cornbread?) but fall means cold weather and as a girl raised in South Florida, I’m a firm believer than anything below 65 is essentially inhospitable for human life (Esteban – I’m right there with you, brother).

Cold weather is awful. Your skin gets dry and ashy, your hair gets staticky, your lips get chapped, you have to wear multiple layers of clothing and you can no longer sit outside with a good book, close your eyes towards the sun and think that all is good in your life. And the produce sucks. You know how hard is it to find cheap mangos, raspberries and avocado in winter? Oh and you can’t wear flip-flops everywhere. What the hell’s that all about?

Yes, summer can be unbearably hot and you spend your time battling mosquitos, sweat and frizzy hair but I feel like I accomplish more in the summer. That being said, here’s a recap of Summer 2010:

Life:

– I’m still an Office Gal Friday, squirreling away those ducats to get to L.A. We moved offices and now, my life is filled with free Wawa coffee. In comparison to the non-potable dreck at my last office, it’s like drinking 90 proof Ambrosia.

– Wedding plans are still on indefinite hiatus. If we spend the cash we have now, we could probably afford to throw a small affair but you know what? There are smarter ways to spend that money than on an open bar and flowers – like a down payment for a house, moving cross country or buying a really expensive but really comfortable couch.

– I learned a valuable lesson in couch shopping. If you see it and fall in love with it, buy it immediately. Otherwise, you’ll go back to Macy’s, learn that the couch has not only been sold but the model has been discontinued and pout for the remainder of the evening. And by evening, I mean your entire life.

– I also (finally) learned how to apply liquid eyeliner. Granted, it’s the idiot-proof kind that resembles a Sharpie but hey – baby steps.

– I belly-flopped onto asphalt while walking Ryely, resulting in a bloody nose, a scraped-up arm and a seriously wicked bruised knee.

Pop Culture:

Movies: Like everyone else in the Northern hemisphere, my two favorite movies of the summer were Inception and Toy Story 3. I also loved Never Sleep Again, a six hour documentary about the Nightmare on Elm Street series that Augs and I watch in one sitting.

I watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona way too many times this summer and decided that I need to reconfigure my life so that I’m an upper class New Yorker who gets to run away to Spain. I’ll keep you posted and let you know how that turns out.

Books: I’m in the process of reading A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn and have come the conclusion that I was gypped in AP US History. I bought Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield and loved it. It’s not nearly as devastating as Love is a Mixtape, but great writing nonetheless. Also highly recommended — The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. Especially if you dig comic books in any capacity. I also read Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I wasn’t a huge fan, but it was a decent read. Do love the music from the Broadway show, though — Defying Gravity is a great song.

Music: It’s been all about The Gaslight Anthem, Big Star, Girl Talk, Chet Baker, the music from Once Again With Feeling and Tangerine by Led Zeppelin.

Television: I rediscovered Veronica Mars and you know what? If you consider yourself to have good taste in television and haven’t seen this show — you really need to do so.

I’ve also been on a pretty serious Joss Whedon kick lately. I finally saw Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog (loved it), read the script to Cabin In The Woods (what the what, Hollywood? Get your shit together and release this already!), have been watching Angel on TNT while getting ready for work in the mornings (so much better than watching those chuckleheads on Fox and Friends or Morning Joe on MSNBC — watching Mika and Joe is like going out to dinner with a couple on the verge of a really messy divorce) and I’ve been watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer in reverse order (season seven down to season one). I’m currently on Season Four and I love it more now than I did back when it was on television. Whedon really is a master of his craft and if I ever become a gazillionaire, one of my top priorities will be to fund everything he wants to do.

I watched one episode of The Wire and I wasn’t blown away. I get the feeling the show is a rolling boil and I need to stick with it before making any judgment calls.

Watched the first four episodes of Breaking Bad. So far, I love it and can’t wait to see how the rest of the show turns out. Also, Pinkman’s answering phone message? High comedy.

I’ve been touch-and-go about True Blood this season. Alcide is a welcome addition to the cast, but I wish they’d get back to storylines revolving around vampires interacting with the real world. The storyline involving the Fellowship of the Sun was awesome and I’d love to see more vampire politics butting up against human politics. Sam Trammell is one of the major reasons I’m still watching. That man makes a girl weak at the knees.

See? Long cool drink of water, that guy.

Travel:

– Augs and I went to New York City for the Lost Weekend. I sat mere feet from Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse, Michael Emerson and Jorge Garcia, saw a clip of the finale before anyone else, was interviewed for a Lost podcast, engaged in some eye flirting with Damon (dudes, he was totally looking at me), wandered around the Village and decided I wanted to move there, ate the best burgers (New York Burger Company needs to overthrow McDonalds in a bloodless coup and reign supreme for the next millennium), haggled for a purse, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, hung out with good friends and fell even more in love with the city so nice, they named it twice.

– I spent a week in West Palm Beach for quality time with the family. I ate entirely too much, watched the World Cup every day, took pictures, enjoyed being home and realized that I should totally live with my sister because she is awesome.

– Finally, Augs and I spent our anniversary in the namesake of my favorite Springsteen song – Atlantic City. Great song, less-than-stellar experience. My advice? Save your ducats and head to Vegas instead.

Food:

A delivery guy once told me, I am a, “fat girl in a little girl’s body.” He wasn’t wrong.

Gastronomic Discoveries:

+ Cold-brewed French Press iced coffee. I drank enough to induce cardiac arrest…in a mastodon.

+ Huevos Rancheros at Jones. The hell with cheesesteaks and soft pretzels. THIS is why the hungry masses should come to Philly. I want Stephen Starr and Jose Garces to form a domestic partnership and invite me over to their love nest every week for Sunday Dinner. That would be fabulous.

+ Vinho verde — a light, fresh Portuguese wine that’s perfect for dining al fresco on a balmy summer evening.

+ Maoz. I could easily eat myself into a coma here. Every corner needs a fast food falafel joint like this.

+ Mack and Manco’s. If you live in the Mid-Atlantic and have ever gone ‘Down Da Shore’, you’ll understand the cult appeal of this pizza. Especially if you spent the summer eating crappy pizza and ranting about it. I ate half the slice in one bite. I assume this is because it was delicious and I am awesome.

+I’ve also been eating lots of Caprese-inspired dishes (I take tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mozzarella cheese and basil and combined it with a carb. Usually pasta or bread. Once or twice, I used croutons. Don’t judge) and a ridiculous amount of homemade popcorn. Here’s the best way to make it:

3 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels (I prefer white over yellow)
Salt
Brown Sugar
Cumin seeds
Cayenne pepper

Crank your burner way the eff up to heat the oil.
After a few minutes, add cumin seeds. They should sizzle and sputter upon impact.
Wait about two minutes and add the popcorn kernels.
Make sure all the kernels are coated with oil. Sprinkle with salt and brown sugar, cover with lid and shake.
Turn heat down to medium low and wait for the popping to stop. You’ve got to watch it like a hawk because otherwise, it will burn and then, your apartment will smell like dying.
Dump out into a serving bowl and sprinkle with cayenne.
Eat by the fistful while watching TV on DVD.

It’s been a pretty good and productive summer. Got a little traveling in, got a lot of eating in and spent plenty of time outside, breathing in the daylight. It was pretty perfect and while I’m reluctant to let go, I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2010 has in store (but if it’s bitterly cold weather and SnOMG: The Redux? You can keep it. Seriously. Living on Hoth? Not cute and I’m well over it).

Summer Afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.


SUMMER
Originally uploaded by gege.gatt

I am a lily — blooming in the sunshine and withering in the cold. So, obviously — living in the north makes perfect sense, right (what can I tell you? Augs is really cute).

Coming from a sub-tropical climate to one where people break out the shorts when the mercury hits the mid-60s is definitely an adjust and while I can’t deny that I’d much rather live in an annually warm climate, I have to admit that I love just how much more people appreciate the warm weather.

After hibernating all winter (the time of year where all I want to do is throw on a hoodie, ensconce myself in a blanket and eat cheese-covered carbs until it warms up again), I feel like I’m revived again.

Andrea wrote this great post about how she’s a person who likes to do things and you know what? I totally agree. While there is a big part me of who is essentially sedentary and wants nothing more than to sit on her couch and watch TV-on-DVD, there’s also another part who knows the world is wide, wild and wonderful and wants to experience it with everything inside of her.

(Hey, I am large. I contain multitudes, OK?)

And this summer, I plan to get out there and live.

Despite what the scienticians say, Summer 2010 begins on May 20 when Augs and I head to Manhattan. We’ll only be there for three days but that’s more than enough time to experience Lost TimesTalks (exclamation point!), chow down on a compost cookie from Milk Bar (sidebar: Anyone else want to drink/make out a little with David Chang?) and wander around a place so nice, they named it twice. Dear New York, I effing love you.

I plan on writing. I want to finish the story I’m working on, start writing a screenplay and continue blogging.

I plan on cooking. As I mentioned not too long ago, my culinary skills suck. I really hope I can begin the long process of rectifying this fact while I’m down in West Palm. Between my grandma, my mom and my sister — I should be able to learn something.

I plan on taking more pictures. There’s a lot of beauty out there and I really should be capturing it. Step one? Read the manual.

I plan on spending more time outside. The frosty Northeastern winters have drained the color from my flesh and I want it back, damn it. Looking like I’m kin to the Winters? Not so cute. Tawny hair and tanned skin? Much better.

I plan on being more physically active. I’ve long given up the notion that I’ll ever resemble Alessandra Ambrosio but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an awesome stomach and Michelle Obama arms (OK, so maybe not Michelle Obama arms but arms that can lift a milk gallon without feeling like they’re about to snap off). I hope to achieve this goal with the help of my co-workers and Sports Guy’s BS Reports.

I plan on reading more. I just finished The Notebook (don’t judge) and Brick Lane by Monica Ali (meh). I’m now starting on Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. I want to read more Bukowski, more non-fiction and more magical realism. Suggestions are welcome.

I plan on discovering and rediscovering all sorts of good music. I realize nostalgia when you’re in your 20s is both irritating and pathetic, but I remember being nineteen and being riotously in love-love-love with music. The kind of love that turns a melody of diaphanous notes into something tangible that coursing through your veins like weapons-grade amphetamine. Somewhere along the line, this passion faded into the background, but I want it back and hopefully, I’ll find it again this summer.

I also plan on playing acoustic guitar on my patio, eating ridiculous amounts of Caprese salad (I made some last weekend and it was pretty fabulous), drinking lots of iced coffee, seeing more of the world around me (kinda want to visit Amish country — outlet malls and farm-fresh bread, cheese and produce? Is this Heaven? No, it’s Lancaster) and ending my crippling addiction to Diet Coke.

It’s going to be a good summer.