Apartments we’ve looked at so far? One.
Apartments that were very pretty BUT were in a creepy and somewhat blighted part of town, tiny as hell, and with electric heat (effectively tacking on $100-200 a month for us)? One.
It can only get better from here, right?
I am finding the biggest problem with looking for an apartment in Brooklyn (where we have effectively decided to move to) is that so many cheap apartments are railroad apartments. I realize this means almost nothing to anyone outside of NYC, so I drew you a floor plan:
I realize not every single railroad apartment is laid out exactly like that, but a fair number are. So, yeah… pretty much no doorways to speak of. Let that sink in for a moment. No doors. No privacy. No “close the bedroom door because it’s a pigsty in there and the Van Houtens are coming over to play bridge.”
I can’t live with that, people! If nothing else, I am a cranky old fusspot who needs doors closed, complete darkness and minimal noise to sleep at night. A curtain ain’t going to cut it here.
Well, we still have a month, which is a long time, all things considered.
And so, on with the search.
My brain: I think you need to pee.
Me: No, I don’t. I just did and now I’m trying to go to sleep.
Brain: I think you do, though.
Me: No. I do not. Goodnight.
Brain: If you say so. [dramatic sigh] This pillow sucks. It’s too flat. You should get another one. Oh, I know! You should buy one the next time you go to IKEA.
Me: Yeah, maybe.
Brain: And while you’re there, you should remember to get a couple of bowls to replace the ones that chipped. Remember that, okay? New bowls. IKEA. New bowls when you’re at IKEA. IKEA bowls. Don’t forget.
Brain: Oh, and maybe get some fabric too! You should replace the bag you made out of IKEA fabric a couple years back. It was cute but now it’s starting to look a little beat. The top of the strap is all faded from the sun. Isn’t that funny? The way it’s all faded in just that one spot. Huh. Or! Maybe you should just get a new messenger bag from Manhattan Portage — but in what color? You have a green coat and a navy one and then sometimes you wear that red jacket in the spring, so probably not in any of those colors. Maybe black, but black is so drab plus OMG cat hairrr!
Brain: Oh, yeah! Good idea! Gray would be great. I still think you should make a new bag, though, too, for the summertime. Something cute, but not too big because you don’t need to carry that much stuff when you’re not going to class. But what KIND of bag? You should really use that super-cute pink fabric you’ve got laying around and make a bag with that —
Me: [weakly] oh god, please shut up.
Brain: — not that you can even GET to your sewing machine. I mean, have you seen that living room? OMG WHAT A WRECK. I mean, I just can’t believe how lazy you are! You need to clean! Tomorrow! Like, as soon as you get up! In fact, you should get up extra early to get a head start! It’s totally disgusting out there! What a slob you are!
Me: JESUS CHRIST SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP I AM TRYING TO SLEEP SO SHUT UP NOW
Me: Thank you.
Brain: [quietly] You do actually kinda need to pee, though.
Me: Yeah, okay, I do.
[exits room toward bathroom]
The first indication something was wrong with me was when I ate a sprouted lentil salad at a local raw food cafe and I spent nearly an hour in a gas station restroom afterward. I had been sick after eating lentils once or twice before but I’d never made the connection before the gas station incident: I was definitely allergic to lentils. No big deal, though, right? Lentils are easy enough to identify and live without.
Then I noticed whenever I ate Indian food, I would have a panic attack. Or so I thought. Indian food has never been my first choice, so Indian food was usually reserved for dinner with friends who really wanted it. Each time, I thought I must have been especially anxious about seeing these particular friends again, but the last time I ate Indian food, the friend I had dinner with emailed me a photo the waiter had taken of the two of us (in the middle of what I thought was me having an anxiety attack). My face was flushed bright pink, like I’d been sunburned, and my neck and chest were splotchy. So, definitely not a panic attack. Okay, I thought, I’m allergic to curry as well?
I saw an allergist after that. She was, coincidentally, Indian, which was helpful and a little embarrassing at the same time. She listed the typical ingredients in curry, but I knew I’d cooked with almost all those ingredients before — why would I be allergic to them now? Her answer boiled down to well, kid, shit happens, and advised me a.) to keep track of what foods bothered me and b.) call 911 if I needed to. Jesus.
Not long after that, I was at IKEA with my kid, sharing a plate of Swedish meatballs, when the usual allergy symptoms kicked in — nausea, numbness, dizziness, heart pounding — along with a new one: panic. The allergist’s 911 recommendation had stuck with me and now there I was, alone with a 5-year-old, at least an hour from home. I took two of the Benadryl I’d started carrying with me and rode it out. At least now I knew what it was I was allergic to, the only ingredient common in curry and Swedish meatballs: cardamom.
Things started to snowball after that. I ate a big bowl of bean thread noodles and found out the hard way that mung beans and lentils are closely related. After years of feeling sick after eating too many raw carrots, I found out there’s an allergenic protein in carrots that breaks down with cooking. In a brief moment of finding the silver lining, I was almost relieved to find I was allergic to brown rice so I finally could eat white rice without feeling whole-grain guilt about it. But the worst, the absolute worst, was yet to come.
I had made pasta with anchovies and garlic for dinner one night, after not having made it for a while. After two bites, the inside of my mouth went all numb, like I’d just gone to the dentist, which is usually my first sign of an allergic reaction. But it’s anchovies! I thought. I’ve eaten this before! Recently! COME ON! But no. Anchovies, once my fishy friend, were now my body’s enemy. So long, cuisines like Thai, Indonesian, and Vietnamese that use fish sauce. Goodbye, Caesar dressing, Worcestershire sauce, and salades niçoise.
If I stop to catalog even half the foods I can’t eat any more, it makes me so angry and sad, but I think what kills me the most is that my allergies are all SO DUMB. I mean, who’s allergic to brown frigging rice? Does that even sound like something people are allergic to? Not to mention the yeah, right factor in having an obscure food allergy. You tell someone “I’m allergic to peanuts” and people take you very seriously. You say, “I’m allergic to cardamom” and people look at you like pull the other one, sister; it’s got bells on.
I know compared to other food allergy sufferers, I have it pretty easy. I’m not allergic to any of the really big ones: milk, wheat, eggs, shellfish, soy, peanuts, et cetera. But as someone who loves to eat and write about food? It sucks. Really, truly, fucking suuuucks. Eating out, particularly with any cuisine that’s even slightly Asian-ish, now comes with a side order of mild terror. With every bite, my brain is chattering, is my mouth going numb? yes? maybe it’s just spicy? no? should I keep eating? should I stop? shit, was that a bean sprout or a noodle I just ate? FUCK!
I’ve been hanging on to this draft for at least two weeks now, trying to come up with some kind of pithy insight or witty rejoinder — a nice, tidy kicker to close this post. Well, I haven’t got one. I guess like me and my allergies, this post is just how it is and we’re all going to learn to live with it.
I mean, they look okay (despite some truly lackluster photography on my part). My husband said they were good but I found these biscuits dry and bland.
I won’t link directly to the recipe I adapted from (for fear of starting an intermural food blog smackdown), but it went something like this:
- – 2 cups flour
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon dried herbs
– 4 tablespoons butter
– 1 cup of shredded cheese
– 1/2 cup sour cream
– 1/2 cup milk
Combine flour and baking powder; cut in remaining ingredients.
Mix and drop by teaspoonfuls on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 450 degrees for 12 – 15 minutes.
Having learned my lesson from the last time I made biscuits, I did my best to handle these as little as possible. I made the dough in the food processor, patted them out gently and cut them into circles with a drinking glass. The dough felt pretty moist from the cheese and sour cream, which is why I’m so baffled as to how they came out so dry. And damn, were these bland. There was a hint of cheese to them, but nothing nearly like what I expected.
So where did this go wrong? Did I screw it up somehow or was the recipe flawed to begin with? Or both?