Sunday, August 26, 2012

Free Seafood

Every week at the Farmer’s Market, the Seafood Man stands proudly with his coolers full of the week’s catch, as he should, knowing fully well that he and the Mushroom Ladies have the hottest, priciest commodities at the market.  I stare at him longingly as I fork over $1 for a pound of kale and another $1 for two eggplants from other, more affordable vendors.  This is my price range at the market.  Sometimes I’ll splurge on berries or peaches, but generally I have a $3-per-item limit for myself, and seafood just doesn’t fit into my budget.  It kills me, a little bit, to pass his freshly caught crabs or see my friends buy tilapia for fish tacos later in the week, but I’ve prioritized an omelet and kettle korn over fish, yet again.

He always has a trivia question, which, if answered properly without the aid of a smartphone, generally wins one a lobster tail.  I glance at the question every week, hoping that one Sunday, I’ll just instinctively know the answer.  It’ll just come to me because, that week, I’d be destined to have lobster tail for dinner.

I go to this market every. Sunday.  Never have I guessed the question properly.  Most weeks I don’t even bother, while others I’ll stand in front of his table for a good five minutes and wrack my brain for memories of Seinfeld episodes or basic American History facts.  Perhaps my losing streak is a sign of why my trivia team did so poorly in its one week of existence.  

And then last Sunday, everything changed.  I was forcing my kale into my resuable bag, when I overheard, “Wait, so what’s the answer?”  
I looked up at the board before I looked up at the inquisitive soul.

“No, l know this one!  ...may I?”
I’m not aware of what I’m saying, my body’s just going with it.  My mind is hours ahead of me, already submerging my free lobster tail in large saucers of butter with a large glass of pinot grigio in the other hand.  What a lovely Sunday evening was in store.

The Seafood Man signals for me to answer, gesturing that he’s given me the floor, the opportunity to prove myself worthy of his trivia.  My Venezuelan roots have prepared me for this moment.  After 24 years, I was going to milk my heritage for a free lobster tail, and I internally acknowledged that it was some perverse form of affirmative action that I fully supported.

“Angel Falls.  The world’s highest waterfall is Angel Falls and it’s in Canima - the rainforest in Venezuela!”  I sputter it out quickly, as though if I don’t, I’ll forget that I’ve been to this massive waterfall.   He nods, but not enthusiastically.  He looks amused, but not in a Bob Barker “Let’s look at what you’ve just won!” kind of way.

I look back at the whiteboard where the question was scrawled hours before.
“What is the world’s highest waterfall and what country is it in?  Guess correctly and win a free … NOTHING.”

My heart sinks.
Affirmative action is a lie.
I will be eating kettle korn for dinner, if I can ration it to last until 6pm.
I won’t be buying that bottle of pinot grigio.  
I’ll submerge my sorrows in saucers of butter.
I’ll never win that lobster tail.

“It was too easy this week,”  Seafood Man lets me down gently.  “Everyone was getting it right and we ran out.”

I was shamed.  I quietly walked away, my head low, to buy four bell peppers for $1 - left to wonder what it would be like to one day be able to leave the Seafood Man with my head high, and a plastic bag full of aquatic goodness.

Until next week, I suppose.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Patterson Park

The weather in Baltimore is finally returning to normal.  I no longer have to run my AC 24/7 to prevent my apartment from turning into a crock-pot and coming home to a slow-roasted dog.  This also allows me to walk the dog for more than one block before he goes on strike and retires to his vestibule of refreshment, as if my even considering to take him out was the world's rudest, most thoughtless inconvenience.

No, now that the weather has come down into the comfortable, low-humidity 80's, I can once again join the ranks of dog owners who walk their dogs further than a block.  In an effort to see more of the city, I often chauffer the dog around to various parks that are beyond reasonable/safe walking distances.  My preferred park is Patterson Park, for so many reasons.

Photo from:
A) Bubba's best friend Pete lives one block from the park.  (Best Friend: noun.  Dog who is owned by my close friend.  Dog friendship determined by convenience and proximity to park.  Impromptu, potentially racy, displays of affection not taken into consideration when determining best friendship.)
B) The Pagoda.
C) The pond.
D) That creepy ice cream truck that plays what sounds like the song from Katamari, but more sinister. Please don't ask me how I am even aware of Katamari's existence.
E) The sheer expanse of space.
F) The proximity to Creative Alliance (another post for another day).

When you spend your days in a cubicle, vying for the slivers of sunlight that make their way through venetian blinds and open office doors, sometimes a fire escape just doesn't cut it for outdoor space come 5pm.  Walking through Patterson Park with Bubba and sitting under a tree for a bit with a good book does wonders for mental refreshment.  For amusement, I could maybe try to make it to one of their free events, or just allow myself the simple pleasure of watching Bubba get truly confused by the ducks.  The pagoda is lovely, the pond is always surrounded by small children adorably throwing bread at overweight ducks, and the greenness of it all is just so welcome to me.

If you're new to Bmore and looking for a great place to bike around, go for a run, walk your dog, or just simply have a picnic or get a sketchy ice cream cone, head over to Patterson Park.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The American Visionary Arts Museum

My sister came to visit me this weekend from DC and I had planned a whole slew of Baltimore-specific activities for us.  Many of these were tabled due to midday margaritas at Holy Frijoles that led to midday naps, and discovering while walking the dog this morning that some lovely human being had broken into my car last night.  After rummaging through my old receipts, gum wrappers, reusable grocery bags and broken FM adapter, my belongings were deemed unworthy of theft, and I've just been left with a broken window.  On the bright side, I've been singing, "Walking on Broken Glass" all day and am now sporting a trash bag over my window until the glass replacement man comes tomorrow.  It makes my car look ultra-urban.  I feel as though I've passed Baltimore's hazing process and can now proudly say that I've fully acclimated to this city.

All that being said, we still did many wonderful things on our Sister Adventure Weekend in Charm City.  We perused the shops of Hampden, I stocked up on well-priced whites at the Wine Source, visited the Book Thing, bought more produce than I could ever consume at the Farmers Market, and took the dogs for a stroll at Patterson Park.   We also visited the American Visionary Arts Museum, a place I've been pining to go to since the day I moved.

I am an art museum junkie, and the AVAM did not disappoint.  While the BMA and the Walters offer wonderful collections, the AVAM offers works that otherwise would never be curated.  It's appreciating that art can come from anyone and anywhere, not just those who have the means and circumstances.  Their collection absolutely blew me away.

I absolutely bought myself a one-year membership.  I couldn't not.  Especially after going to the Kinetic Sculpture Race this past May.

Other Exciting Baltimore Activities to Do with One's Sister
-make risotto
-drink wine
-not leave the apartment on a Saturday night
-tape a bag to a car
-play with your respective pets
-rate different brands of Greek yogurt (Oikus > Safeway Select.  Always)