Tuesday, August 24, 2010

words on a page - comma - other peoples'

Dear sister,

I’m taking a break from working on my thesis to write back to your blog post. I know – look how much time that didn’t take me! It’s because:
1. I’m trying to, you know, fix my thesis. (John Green alert: split infinitive.) Which is frustrating, and thus requires frequent breaks.
2. Thanks to my daily (or, nightly) overnight baking shifts at PiTS, I keep losing feeling in three of the fingers on my right hand, mostly when I do things like hold a knitting needle or a pen too tightly. I think it’s got something to do with how I hold the rolling pin … anyway, typing on a computer seems to loosen my hand back up so I can back to whatever I was working on. Hooray for you, because it means more frequent blog posting. (Boo for me, but oh well. First I’ll figure out how to get health insurance, and then I’ll fix my hand.) (Also, don’t tell the parentals, ok?)
3. As you mentioned to me yesterday, blogging to each other seems really silly this week since we’re, you know, at the same house. But, last night I went back to Grandmother’s, and next week you move to Boston. And besides, I think it’s important to keep up the effort even when it seems counter-intuitive. As we have now learned from our new-but-late-to-the-party love affair for the vlogbrothers*, sometimes you don’t know what it is you’re doing until you’re almost done. So it can be important to keep going even when it doesn’t feel like it’s all that important at all.

But since not much happens in my life these days (see above: 6 weekly shifts of overnight baking), I don’t have much to say about life right now. I wasn’t there when the Secret Service came in, because who comes in for a sandwich at 3am? Well, drunk people. And sometimes fishermen. But other than that, there’s not much excitement on my shifts. (Except for the occasional skunk.) So instead I’m just going to tell you a little bit about the box of books I dropped off in your room yesterday.

This book is kind of the Buddhist version of Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s The Little Prince (as much Buddhist as Little Prince is Christian, anyway). It’s a beautiful tale about friendship, childhood, and death – a clause I would also apply to The Little Prince – and it’s short. If you do read this version, just know that the names are wrong. They’re originally Italian names, to enhance the story’s sense of time-out-of-place-ness with crossed cultural references, but for some reason these editors decided that English readers would be fine with Japanese names. Having looked at both versions, I disagree with them but, also, I digress.

Here I’m biased because Dara was one of my favorite teachers from undergrad, but I do think you’d especially like her second novel, The World to Come. You can’t read her third novel yet because I’m still in the middle of it. Well, you can read it, I suppose. You just can’t have my copy.

This is a depressing book. It’s also insanely beautiful. And, you should read it instead of – or at least before – seeing the movie. McCarthy employs a rhythm and a tone for his writing that really can’t be copied for a visual medium, though I suppose it could be recreated, if the movie is made well. Or well-made. Anyway, read before watch.

I wouldn’t choose this as my top Yiddish lit novel to lend you, but the ones I think you’d like the most I only have on my computers; they’re either not-yet-published translations or out-of-print editions, and they’re a bit bootleg either way. (The world of modern Yiddish literature? Not all that big. Especially compared to what it used to be.) But this is a beautiful book – a little bit Virginia Woolf, a little bit … well, I guess just a lotta bit Virginia Woolf. It’s a good story, though, with interesting characters and again, a brilliant use of language to convey emotional development. It gives you a sense of what middle class Eastern European Judaism went through when the modern world came head to head with the traditional one. In case you were wondering, which I often am.

More “reviews” to come later. [I know, these were more like … comments. Or, verbal spewage of my thoughts. Well, not verbal … virtual-verbal. Typed. Anyway…]

your didn’t-read-all-the-books-she-had-to-buy-for-grad-school-but-here-are-some-she-did-and-liked sister

*love affair in the sense that we both like to watch their videos when we’re feeling crabby, because they make us laugh. Not love affair in any other sense, not that it would matter since we’re both technically single right now, but it would probably matter to them – and to their wives. Also, isn’t it funny how we didn’t know it but came up with a similar idea – to use internet technology to stay in communication with our adult siblings – even though they’ve been doing it longer, and with more consistency, and with a vlog instead of a blog? (And are more successful, also.) Funny-odd, I mean, not funny-ha-ha. They are funny-ha-ha, though, that’s for sure.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Dear Sister,

Thanks for the cheering! Although, I think I have to agree with Cute Younger Baker Boy (hence forth known as Baker Boy) that next year it will probably be a better idea to both train and sleep before the race.

Speaking of the bakery...

1) Let's go back to shortening it to PITS instead of Pie. First of all, I like real pies, and I don't want to forever associate them with Pie in the Sky and never be able to enjoy them again. Second of all, PITS is more fitting. Hah.

2) Tid bits from the Secret Service visit to PITS the other day:

Erik: Quick, I need a dinner platter! (runs away)
Me: What does he want?
Abby: He didn't follow up on it, he's not getting it.
five minutes later...
Erik: Can I get that dinner platter?
Abby: Here's a plate.
(FYI: we don't have "platters" of any sort at PITS, Erik. Except for one nicer plate that Mark brought Coleen dinner on once and then never took home.)

Erik: (puts the sammie slips in the thing) These are *really* for the Secret Service, so be careful!
Abby: What do you think I'm going to do, put bombs in them?

Ellie: Look at Erik, trying to impress the cool kids.
Ellie: Here is another slip that goes with them. (On the bottom it says HOLD THE BOMBS). Wait, did that actually go with the other sandwiches?!

3) Now, see, I was sort of ignoring the whole Secret Service thing in general, cuz well, they're just people, people. But the second group of them gave us a SS badge, which Erik said is "the coolest thing ever!" (direct quote, no joke). Nick's response was more accurate, I think: "Does anyone else think it's weird they just walk around with extra badges in their pockets?"
But I guess the point of kissing their butts was that they're part of the prez's posse, and then if Obama did actually stop by PITS that would be great press.

There are a number of flaws in this whole thing:
a) We don't really need great press, we have way too many customers as it is, and if we get more and people have to wait LONGER than 30 minutes for their sandwiches the bad press is going to cancel out the good press.
b) I don't think the Secret Service really talk to the prez that much. They just stand in front of bullets and all that.
c) You know who DOES talk to the prez pretty often? The cutest baby in the whole wide world. You know who knows her? Me. She comes into PITS with her parents, who I guess also probably talk to the prez a lot, what with being the campaign manager and all. But, I'm just saying, if Viv thinks the PIE SKY! scones are pretty good, I think that's got a better chance of making it to Obama's ear. Although, it might get sandwiched between other important information like the fact that her PINK sweatshirt has a P on it for Phillies, and her aqua is red and she likes to pick out her own hair bows. (It's almost worth the early shift for the chance to hang out with her for ten minutes.)

Okay, I think thats it for now. I've got some thoughts on the not-so-secret Service (they had "Secret Service" right on their shirts!) and another week means another onslaught of day shift PITS stories.

your I'm-only-here-for-3 weeks-so-I-don't-care! sister (re:PITS)

Monday, August 16, 2010

run Ella run!

Dear Sister,

You did it!

[PecanMama running in the 80s.]

[Ella running in the 010s.]

Go livers!
your super-proud sister

ps - Since you raised enough money for the ALF to cover three people's entries, I'm going to be on your team next year so I can run, ok?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

eh ... i'm still alive, i swear

Hi sister,

Ok, so the summer always turns out to be busier than expected. The film festival is over, and was a wonderful experience in that it reminded me why I got out of the business the first time around. No nostalgia on that front anymore. I saw one movie out of the 100 or so we screened that week, but it was a good one, and I'm glad I caught it because it probably won't get the kind of distribution that would bring it to our used-to-be-a-mall-and-is-now-a-couple-of-stores-and-a-Walmart. So anyway, now it's just the normal summer crazy at the bakery, instead of the summer crazy + I-take-on-an-extra-job-for-two-weeks-in-a-field-I-swore-I-wouldn't-ever-return-to crazy. This should mean I make it to the beach at least once in a while. And maybe that I hold up my end of the bargain we made to each blog once a week.

Since I'm just now resurfacing from not having slept for a week, I'm just going to give you a rundown of a conversation that happened last month when I attempted to change my oil, with the help of SuperTiger brother. (Well, not MY oil, since I'm a human, obvi, but the oil within my vehicle.)

So. After several false starts (ST brother: Hey Aila, can you teach me how to drive stick today? me: No, because I shouldn't be driving it at all until I change the oil. ST brother: Oh, ok. Maybe we can do that tomorrow? - a day or two passes - ST brother: Hey, can we drive the truck today? Aila: No. Oil change. ST brother: oh, yeah. - a day or two later - ST brother: Hey ... are you free? Can you teach me to drive the truck?) I got off work and camped out at the house until ST brother himself got off work. He'd forgotten we'd made plans to do the oil that day, which I'd accounted for and added time into the schedule accordingly. He canceled on his friends ("planning fail, guys, my bad") and I waited while he changed his clothes. And talked with StrongDad about (what else?) soccer. And decided that he needed to speak only French with me this summer, because that way he'd learn French better, and he'd be able to communicate with the Haitian guys on his soccer team. Whatever.

After a reasonable amount of time has passed, SuperTiger brother and I arrive at Autozone. (Actually, first I had to explain to him that we needed to leave the house. ST brother: Why? Aila: Because we're changing the oil. ST brother: (blank stare) Aila: And I don't carry around 4 quarts of fresh oil with me at all times. ST brother: Oh, right.)

Aila: Ok, ST brother, we need to figure out which oil filter to get. I never remember.
ST brother: Right. Whoa ... are those all steering wheel covers?
Aila: Um, yes. So, we look in this catalogue/book/thingy to find the make of the ...
ST brother: Whoa! A Tweety bird steering wheel cover!
Aila: ... vehicle ...
ST brother: Check it out -- Tazmanian devil steering wheel cover?!?
Aila: Super Tiger brother! Over here! Help me figure this out!
ST brother: Right.
Aila: I think this is the number we want ... can you find it?
ST brother: Sure. Where?
Aila: Over there.
ST brother: Whoa! Seat covers! With Tinkerbell on them!
Aila: Hello - filter number -
ST brother: Yeah. But seriously, I should buy this.
Aila: No, you shouldn't.
ST brother: Yeah, I'm totally going to buy this. I'm going to put it in Beachmom's car. Don't you think she'd find that funny?
Aila: I think you'd find it funny.
ST brother: Yeah, she probably wouldn't get it. What if I put it in StrongDad's car?
Aila: I don't think he'd notice.
ST brother: Hm. I'll just buy it for (male friend's) birthday, then.
Aila: Ok. So we can come back then. In the meantime, help me find the ...
ST brother: Whoa! Look at this!

(At this point, I abandon him for several minutes while I get the filter and the right kind of oil. Then ... )

Aila: Super Tiger Brother! Leave that alone and come help me carry these oil quarts.
ST brother: But it's like a sled, with wheels!
Aila: It's for people to get under their cars.
ST brother: Do you have one of these?
Aila: No. I use cardboard.
ST brother: Huh. If I had one of these, I'd use it to go down steep hills.
Aila: Well, lucky for all of us you don't have one.
ST brother: ... I could get one ... (mostly to himself)
Aila: No, you can't. Help me carry these.
ST brother: Okay. Whoa! Look at that! It's shiny!

(Seriously. He actually said that. Five minutes later ...)

Aila: Super Tiger Brother, I'm leaving the store now. You can walk home, or you can come with me now.
ST brother: I'm coming ... Aila, how did I not know about this store before? Autozone is the coolest place ever. Whoa! What is that?!?

(I drag him past the display by the door, whatever it was, and get him home. Many minutes later, he has dug up some cardboard from the garage and we are under the car, trying to loosen the bolt on the oil container. By this point, he has remembered his original plan to only speak French with me.)

ST Brother: Et, qu'est-ce que tu fais maintenant?
Aila: ST brother, I don't know French auto mechanic vocabulary.
ST Brother: Je sais. Je souviens ... le mot pour "oil" ... parce que je faisais un projet sur le "oil spill" pour l'ecole ...
[Editor's note: I'm not going to try to figure out how to do accents on here. Also, I'm trying to capture the French of an 11th grader, so bear with the grammar of these sentences.)
Aila: Ok.

(Eventually, we head inside because I'm having trouble loosening the oil filter and need to give the truck a minute to cool down. StrongDad is in the kitchen with us.)
StrongDad: I know how to speak French.
Aila: Oh, heavens.
StrongDad: No, really. Je cogitare, je suis.
ST brother: What does that mean?
Aila: Cogitare is Latin for "to think." Strong Dad is trying to say "je pense."
ST brother: But what does the whole thing mean?
Aila: StrongDad's trying to say "I think, therefore I am."
StrongDad: Only I don't know the word for "therefore" ... so I only said "I think, I am." Ha! I think I am!
ST brother: Oh.
StrongDad: Je cogitare, ergo je suis!
Aila: I'm going back outside now.

(Fast forward far too many minutes ... I am back under the truck, trying again to loosen the bolt. ST brother is with me.)

StrongDad: Hey ST brother, did you feed the pets?
Aila: ST brother, StrongDad's talking to you.
ST brother: Quoi?
StrongDad: Did you feed the dog?
ST brother: Oui!
StrongDad: Did you give him his medicines?
ST brother: Oui!
StrongDad: All three of them?
ST brother: Trois?
StrongDad: Deux?
ST brother: Un?
StrongDad: Un?
ST brother: Un!

It was at this point that I more or less gave up. The twenty minute oil change took about an hour and a half ... and created this incredibly long blog post.

Welcome home!

Your sister