QotD: Looking Back…

What part of your childhood do you miss the most?
Submitted by Maretta.

I miss the neighborhood where we lived: Macalester-Groveland in St. Paul, Minnesota. I grew up on Goodrich Avenue in St. Paul, which was walking and biking distance to all kinds of things. I had a best friend next door (Gretchen) and across the street (Krista), and other friends down the block (Krissi and Susan). The proximity to Macalester College was terrific, of course, but there was a soda fountain, good alleys for riding bikes through puddles, places to get candy and baked goods, two outstanding bookstores (Odegaard and my beloved Hungry Mind, both closed).

When we were 13, my family moved to a suburb. It was the right thing to do as far as space was concerned, but I lost all of my mobility: there was nowhere to bike, nowhere to visit, and for that matter, no friends in my neighborhood. The summer between 7th and 8th grade, I took "Acting, Music and Dance" at Macalester's TCITY (Twin Cities Institute for Talented Youth), and one day, sat down in front of my old house and just cried.

My brother Andy lives two blocks from this house now; my Dad still teaches a mile away from it at William Mitchell College of Law. Every time I visit home, without fail, I drive by it and wave. The crabtree we planted nearly dwarfs the house now; the skyline locust that replaced the elm tree after the Dutch elm disease outbreak is broad and mature. I still dream of that little house when I think of home.

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QotD: My First Boyfriend/Girlfriend

How old were you when you had your first "official" boyfriend or girlfriend? What was he/she like?

I guess it would have to be Bryan Iverson when I was 13, the summer between 7th and 8th grade. He was older than me — he was 16, almost 17, and I met him at the TCITY summer school program at Macalester College. When I went to Rocky Horror for the first time, he came along and our knees touched. This was all very exciting. When I went away for a week, he wrote me letter after letter. It was great. One afternoon, I met up with him in South Minneapolis and he carried a little boom box that was playing Let It Be by the Replacements. It was the first time I heard it and it's still one of my very favorite albums today. My parents had no idea where I was and they so completely grounded me. They were ready to kill me. (I'm still sheepish writing about it 23 years later.) That was the day that I kissed him. It took about two hours before I had the guts to do it.

But for some reason, after two weeks or so, he dumped me. Maybe it was when I went to camp? He'd apparently been very into Sarah, my so-called best friend. I have some recollection that he was dating me to be around her. She and I, later that year, tricked him into coming over to her house and we both jumped out and laughed at him. He drove away. I still feel bad about that.

I burned every single one of the letters Bryan sent me using a pack of matches he gave me. I counted them off. 1. 2. 3. It's one of the biggest regrets I have: I wish I hadn't gotten rid of them.

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QotD: My First Single

Music-wise, what was the first 45, single or download you bought? 
Submitted by Paddy Melt Wagon.

I took the bus to the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, to Montgomery Ward's record department. I was 8 — a second grader — and I bought Blondie's "Rapture." (To be honest, I think that my friend's mom must have been with us and that we did not take the bus alone as eight year-olds, but maybe we did.)

First record album: Diana Ross Diana.

First cassette: Men At Work Cargo.

First CD: I'm embarrassed to say it might've been Pink Floyd's The Wall because I wanted to buy something where the sound quality would matter. In reality, it was a Christmas present. I'd also wanted Louder than Bombs but it was too expensive on CD.

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QotD: Weekend Plans

What are your plans for the weekend?

I'M GRADUATING. That's what I'm doing this weekend. On Monday at about 11, I'll get my master's diploma from the Yale School of Architecture. Okay, you probably knew this already, considering it's all I've posted about for the last few months. But I put on the cornered hat, a purple tassel and hood and polyester robe and shake the dean's hand and get a cool diploma in Latin.

Enrique's parents arrived last night. In a couple minutes, I leave to get my brothers at the airport. My Mom and stepdad arrive tomorrow around noon. (My Dad and stepmom can't make it because he's teaching in Scotland and it's the first day of class.)

So far, parties. Parties. Other parties. More parties. Graduation parties. And then all of a sudden, pay fines, return books and that's that.

And then I go to Denmark June 2, to Shanghai June 11, back to Denmark the 17th, back to New Haven the 22nd — pack up and move — and then back to Copenhagen for the month of July. No Supernova, it turns out, but San Francisco in August. We're homeless for 7 weeks and it's kinda nice.

More pictures soon. Whee.

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QotD: This Time Last Year

What were you doing one year ago today?
Submitted by CassandraMorgan.

Just as we will be on Saturday this week, we were on our way from San Antonio to Hartford, Connecticut, where we took the Connecticut Limo bus back to New Haven. Like last year, we had spent our spring break in Texas, at SXSW and with Enrique's parents in San Antonio.

Texas spring break: kicks ass.

Mushy March on the East Coast: not so much.

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QotD: First Celebrity Crush

Who was your first celebrity crush?
Submitted by Glory.

Diana Ross. It wasn't a romantic crush, but it was a crush all the same. The first full-length, LP record I bought was Diana Ross' Diana, when I was in third grade. I played it over and over again. If "Upside Down" came on my clock radio, I would blast it to the point of fuzziness and incomprehensibility. My parents let me stay up late to see her live special on TV — she opened the show marching and strutting around the stage in a long, white fur coat, singing "I'm Comin' Out." That would've been in 1981.  My grade school friends still remember — and tease me about — my Diana Ross obsession. I still think it's a great album. But my celebrity crush would probably be Cate Blanchett. Or Gael Garcia Bernal.

I feel I should say that Diana was a bigger crush than my fleeting interest in Shawn Cassidy, consummated through my parents gift of a jigsaw puzzle of him and my friend Susan's record where he sings "Alligator Rock." We were 5 then.

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QotD: Happy President’s Day!

Ever run for office?  (School, club, organization, politics, etc.)  Did you get elected?

I was on student council a number of years. This is strange given my absolute lack of school spirit.

Stranger yet, though, was that I wore a green horse suit and dressed as Melvin Mustang at basketball and hockey games and wrestling matches.

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QotD: I Was The Sous Chef

Who taught you how to cook?
Submitted by Donna.

I did. Well, me and the New Basics Cookbook were really what did it. It was a matter of learning that the combination of decent tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, red wine and al dente pasta were enough to make a delicious dish. Around that time, I was living in Minneapolis for the year. My mom and I were both single and living together. That year, she asked if I wanted to cook Christmas dinner. I tried the orange-roasted capon  and it was delicious. It all went from there, but the pasta sauce recipe was the key. I even immortalized in in 1995 online, on my first personal site. The purpose of pasta sauce is to woo.

All of my friends have memories of me serving them food way too late: I remember one time, serving dinner at midnight. They remember the 35 person Thanksgiving dinner where we sat on the floor in 1998, with the gravy that Maggie made and Molly and Rosemary walking around, serving people the cinnamon ice cream. They remember SXSW the first year I attended, making pasta for 50 people at Lane and Courtney's house when they were roommates, not yet dating.

A New Way to Cook
Sally Schneider

These days, my skills of scale have greatly improved. I cook almost every night (Enrique does dishes) and we usually eat at a reasonable time. Last night, I made a white bean soup from the improvisational directions set out in A New Way to Cook — it had bacon, shallots, onions, carrots, great northern white beans, and mustard greens, and we had garlic toast with it. So good. We eat a fair amount of greens — broccoli rabe and brussels sprouts are favorites, cooked in a little olive oil and finished with lemon. Sometimes, I cook for the rest of our cohort (the five of us) — that was recently beef bourginon, and before that, Rick Bayless's tomatillo-braised pork roast.

I love the creative, warmth and joy that cooking imparts; it's different than what I study, what I read for research and school, what I do on the Internet. It's personal and it brings people together. I actually like cooking more than I like eating.

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QotD: Next On My Itinerary

What's the next country you want to visit? 
Submitted by Schomer.

Where do I not want to go?

For one, I want to go back to India. That's where I spent the summer (which you may not know if you didn't know me pre-Vox) and I loved it. I was in Bangalore and it kills me that I can't go to Doors of Perception or my friend Vinay's wedding. But it's just not going to happen right now. I really only saw Bangalore when I was there, deciding to stay put and love where I was rather than getting frustrated by traveling alone. I want to go back for a long time.

I've traveled extensively and lived in Germany, Holland, France, Italy, and India and have spent substantial time in London. There are places I've never been, however. I've always wanted to go to Vienna. I've never been to Greece or the countries in the former Yugoslavia — I'd love to see Croatia and Slovenia (and Ljubljana in particular).

Russia! The Trans-siberian or Trans-mongolian! I would love to see Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand. I've been to China and very briefly, Japan, but would love to return.

I've never been to South America and save for passing through, Mexico, but Enrique's family lived there for a while. Since his native language is Spanish, it opens up communication for traveling and that will be wonderful. Birke and Darci have shared their accounts of Argentina and it sounds wonderful, my host mom in Germany enchanted me with discussions of Chile. I'd love, also, to visit Brazil.

When I went to India, I had actually hoped I might find a way to Africa. Uganda was of interest. My dad's been to Ghana and I've always wanted to see it. I know that Namibia and South Africa are stunning and I loved the travel stories of my friends Dave and Jo as they traveled across Africa in a Range Rover. Amazing.

And of course, there's Australia and New Zealand. I don't even know where to start. But I want to go.

Where do I not want to go.

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