Boy, it's been, empty, around here, lately, hasn't it?
Sorry. For some reason, I've just been missing my blog mojo lately.
(If anyone saw Dr. Evil in my neighborhood recently, let me know. Especially if he starts writing blog posts about his son's funny foibles and all the crazy mishaps that have happened lately during renovations in his Evil lab. Then I'll totally be on to him.)
The lovely Andrea has kindly volunteered (okay, I begged her) to tag me with an interview meme in an attempt to revive my dismally flagging initiative. So, without further adieu, an interview:
1. What's the best advice you've ever received?
"You should be a professional writer someday." -Mother
"You should be a professional writer someday." -Fourth Grade Teacher
"You should be a professional writer someday." -Sixth Grade English Teacher
"You should be a professional writer someday." -High School English Teacher
"You should be a professional writer someday." -College Dramatic Criticism Professor
"You should be a professional writer someday." -College Screenwriting Professor
"You should be a professional writer someday." -College Exposition Professor.
At around the 200th time someone said this to me, it finally sunk in that perhaps I should be a professional writer, and not a biologist, when I grew up. Because I suck at math. And I'm not too good with a micro-pipette. And I really hate dissecting cats. (Did you know you have to dissect cats to get a biology degree? You do.)
2. If you could be a character in a book or movie, who would you be and why?
I would be Elizabeth Bennet from that book Andrea says she can't get through, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I share a lot of her flaws (like, for instance, having a tendency to push away people I ought instead to try to attract, or, for example, occasionally being too convinced of my own intellectual superiority for my own good), so I think I'd be comfortable. And, believe it or not, the Bennet family is way saner than mine, so I could totally put up with them.
Not to mention the fact that Mr. Darcy is HAWT.
A close second, of course, would be Hermione from the Harry Potter series. Because what geeky former know-it-all schoolgirl doesn't want to be Hermione?
3. How did you and your lovely husband meet?
We met in the food court in the St. Louis Galleria shopping mall. No joke. How's that for romantic?
He was wearing geeky glasses, and reading a C++ programming book the size of an infant elephant. I thought to myself, "Hmm, that guy looks really cute in a nerdy sort of way, just like all those nerdy guys I used to have crushes on back when I was in high school. But I am so over that nerdy guy phase."
(I was wrong.)
4. What issue concerning your country do you think needs the most attention given the impending campaigns gearing up for next year's leadership change?
This is a tough question to answer, because the current administration has done a lot of things to make me unhappy, and in some cases, very angry, and it's hard for me to decide where a new government ought to start undoing the damage.
I suppose there is one issue underlying nearly all of my issues with the current group in power, though, and that issue would be: trust.
I want to be able to trust my elected officials to honor my country's constitution. I don't want the government reading my mail or tapping my phone without a warrant; that's against the Constitution. I don't want the executive branch trying to take over the judicial branch and silence the Congress; that's also against the Constitution.
I want to be able to trust my elected officials to put the beliefs and needs of their constituents first, not their own lust for personal glory or money or power.
I want to be able to trust my government to react swiftly, deliberately, efficiently and appropriately in times of national crisis when the lives and livelihoods of many citizens of my country are at stake. I know a lot of people say that one oughtn't to rely on one's government to help one out of every single bad situation-- that people ought to practice more self-sufficiency, and be more prepared in case of a disaster-- and I agree with that sentiment to a degree, but, at the same time, I believe the primary purpose of a government is to protect and serve its people. We can argue all we want about to what extent we want our government to protect and serve us, but that doesn't change the fact that to protect and serve its citizens, to whatever degree the majority of those citizens agree they need service and protection, is the primary purpose of a democratic government.
If we have a Central Intelligence Agency that can't keep track of intelligence on dangerous terrorists, well, then, why do we have a Central Intelligence Agency at all? If we have a Federal Emergency Management Agency that can't manage emergencies, what is the point to its even existing? I really don't think there is any excuse for the repeated recent failures of nearly every major government agency to perform even marginally in its supposed role. I feel like the majority of people working in government today have entirely forgotten that the taxpayers pay their salaries, and the people are their ultimate boss.
I also want other countries to be able to trust that the government of my country will deal honestly and fairly with other countries, and will always try to work for peace. I don't believe in covert support of coups or rebellions in other countries (that sort of thing is what got Osama Bin Laden trained by the CIA, after all), and I don't believe in preemptive war.
I know I'm quite an idealist, to even suggest that such a thing exists as one trustworthy politician, let alone enough of them to fill an entire executive branch. But I refuse to give up hope. I think I had, at one point, given up hope in progress and faith in the good of humanity, but motherhood has renewed my sense of optimism in that regard. A powerful paradigm shift takes place when you are suddenly offered the opportunity to imagine every single person on the planet as a person who was once an innocent child.
5. I know you're a vegetarian, and I know you like to cook as well. So what is your favorite dish to cook and eat and will you share the recipe?
Okay, I have a TON of favorite dishes. I am not at all a picky eater, aside from that little not eating dead animals issue I have. It was very hard for me to choose, but this particular dish is easy to make; enticingly exotic, I think, with its interesting combination of East Indian spices and a decidedly American vegetable; and, it has received rave reviews from my husband, who IS a picky eater:
This is modified from a recipe in The Vegetable Book, by Colin Spencer, which is an excellent book that everyone who ever cooks vegetables should own:
Curried Sweet Potatoes
three medium or two large sweet potatoes
one-two tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (you can get these at an Indian grocery store)
1 1/2 tbsp garam masala (you SHOULD get this at the Indian grocery store, because the big generic grocery store will hose you on the price)
pinch chili powder (to taste)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Boil the sweet potatoes in their skins for 15 minutes. They should be just cooked through, but not mushy. Drain them and let them cool. I mean, really, let them cool. You do not want to try to peel these when they are hot. Trust me on this one.
Once the potatoes have cooled, peel them. You should be able to just pull the skin off with your fingers. Slice the peeled potatoes into disks about 1/4 inch thick.
Heat the peanut oil in a non-stick pan. Add the mustard seeds. Swish them around with a spatula to coat them thoroughly with oil. When the mustard seeds start hopping in the pan, add the chili powder and the sweet potatoes. Lower to medium heat, and fry until the underside of the potatoes start to acquire spots of golden brown.
Sprinkle the garam masala evenly over the potatoes; flip them to make sure they get coated on all sides. Add the cilantro, and fry for a minute or three more until the cilantro has just wilted and it all looks crispy.
Serve with jasmine rice.
Bonus question: What is your favorite kind of cheese?
Now, who wants to be interviewed by me?