Monday, April 23, 2012

Avocado Kale Salad

This past winter I bought kale frequently and sauteed it with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes.  Also tasted good with some grated Parmesan.  But now that the weather's getting warmer, I have a new favorite way to eat it.  Very easy to prepare, too.

Start with a soft avocado and a lemon.  Mush together the avocado with the lemon juice to create a thick salad dressing.  I've been using a 1-to-1 ratio, but you should play with it to see what you like.  I also add salt and pepper.  Wash your kale and tear it into bite sized pieces.  In a bowl combine the kale and dressing; use your hands to massage the dressing into the kale so that all the leaves are evenly covered.  The best part is that your hands get messy and you get to lick the avocado off your fingers.  (If you like that sort of thing.  I surely do.)

That's your base.  Then you get to add whatever sounds delicious or you have on hanging out in your fridge.  I added tomatoes, scallions, dried cranberries, and cucumber.  If I had had basil, I would have added that, too.  Strawberries or blueberries would also be amazing.  The lemon in the dressing really perks up the kale and offsets its heavy bitterness.
Okay.  Go make this now.  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Friday was the National Day of Silence, "a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools."  This is the second year in a row since I've taught at my school where the event was highly publicized and many of the staff and students participated.  I'm one of the teacher facilitators of our school's Gay-Straight Alliance; the kids have been working hard for the past several weeks to organize a "week of awareness" around Friday's event.  We've even invited a collection of outside speakers to come in this Wednesday to have a panel discussion around LGBT issues for the whole student body.  I'm proud of the organizing the kids have done--it's fun to watch their efforts ripple across the school.

Aside from the activism aspect of Friday, I was once again reminded of how much I enjoy teaching when I am unable to talk.  Initially the kids are excited because they hope class will be a free-for-all, but almost immediately they settle into our long-established routines and class runs even more smoothly than it does on any other typical day.  My silence encourages their silence, and a collective effort is born to interpret my directions.  Plus, by this point in the year they are well aware of my expectations, and so a simple, stern look from me will halt any misbehavior that might begin.  I can write a question on the board and the kids know how to lead their own discussion, they know how to put themselves in groups and focus on an assignment, and they're great at answering each others' questions when anyone is confused.  I love watching them function like this with almost no input from me.

As well as I know my students by April, I forget how well they know me, too.  My favorite moment in the day might have been as I was dismissing one class to lunch.  I opened the door and motioned into the hall, indicating that they could leave, and in the silent room one boy suddenly voiced what I must say almost daily: "Goodbye my loves.  Have a good lunch."  I maintain that laughing is still permissible during a day of silence--at least I hope it is, because I laughed hard in that moment.

In other news, I ran nine miles yesterday.  I was nervous before the run because of the distance, and because I was planning to run a new route and I more often than not make a wrong turn and end up who knows where.  But, I didn't make any wrong turns and I ran the whole nine miles at just under my goal race pace, so felt joyous when I had finished.  Upon returning home I listened to these seven songs loud and on repeat to celebrate.  I invite you to do the same.

Somebody That I Used to Know – Gotye
This Sweet Love – James Yuill
Ritual Union (Maya Jane Coles Remix) – Little Dragon
Tenuousness – Andrew Bird
Until We Bleed – Kleerup
Everlasting Light – The Black Keys

Saturday, April 14, 2012


Over the past couple of years I've been blessed with the opportunity to travel quite a bit.  I just returned from a week in Istanbul and am both happy to be home and already missing some of the characteristics peculiar to that city, as always seems to be the case when I find myself back in Brooklyn.  I do adore New York, but seeing other parts of the world awakens my wanderlust and has me scheming about where I might escape to next.

A motif of a few these trips has been visiting their famous sacred places.  The beauty of these places seems to transcend the earthly materials used to create them.  I find them breathtaking and am filled with awe.  Since I had this experience yet again on my most recent trip, I thought I'd take a moment to share a few photos.

Paris: Sainte-Chapelle
This Gothic style church was built in the 1240s.  Its stained glass windows are overwhelmingly blue and fill so much of the space where there would be walls that the whole construction seems to be held up by a miracle.

Barcelona: Sagrada Família
Antoni Gaudí began building this basilica in the 1880s and it is still under construction today.  Gaudi died in 1926, and since then architects have considered it an honor and challenge to help add to his vision.  Perhaps more than any building I've ever seen, the Sagrada Familia defies explanation or description.  The exterior has a different design on every side, exuding a feel of genius and insanity.  The interior is astounding and majestic; it truly feels like holy ground as you find yourself looking upward and wandering, wandering through its vastness.
Istanbul: Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque)
This mosque was built in a mere seven years, from 1609-1616.  It's still used today by worshippers.  The call to prayer emanates throughout the city five times a day.  Each mosque has its own caller and their calls are not entirely synchronized, so the effect is a sort of haunting, harmonious round.  I was standing directly outside the Blue Mosque, next to one of its six towering minarets, one day last week as this happened.  It was astounding.

Istanbul: Suleyman Mosque
Built by the architect Sinan from 1551-1558, this mosque is understated and awe-inspiring.  I love that the wooden benches and marble stations for pre-prayer foot cleansings are still used today, rather than simply a shadow of the past.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rainbow Trails and Turkish Delight

Yesterday was a big day: I ran 8 miles for the first time ever, and I traveled to Istanbul.  That's where I am now as I type this.  Istanbul.  In fact, I'm trying to propel myself past jetlag into the correct timezone, so this moment is as much about writing a bit as it is about trying to stay up just that much longer before relinquishing to the sleep that has been coaxing me toward it all day long.

So, the 8 miles... hooray!  My ankle is awesome and felt nary a twinge during or after my run yesterday.  God job, ankle.  Also, 8 miles is not a short distance.  What's more, it takes a while to run that far; I now know about myself that I can run for 1 hour and 20 minutes without stopping.  Just a few years ago I couldn't run more than 20 minutes without walking, so this is significantly longer and something I am proud of.

The weather in Brooklyn yesterday was sunny and crisp and just a little breezy.  In other words, a perfect day to run.  The first half of my run took me around Greenwood Cemetery.  On the back half of this loop there is a series of small uphill segments.  The first one wore me down somewhat, but I was ready for the second.  It was on this second uphill portion that an odd thing of beauty eclipsed everything else.

The sidewalk where I was running was made from old pebbled concrete, and it was in a state of disrepair with large pieces gouged out or worn away.  This left the sidewalk to collect and store any debris that came its way.  Lodged in every nook and cranny were multicolor fragments of broken glass.  They glistened and sparkled in the sun--blue, brown, orange, green, red--like an underfoot urban disco ball.  At that particular moment I was listening to this song, and felt transported into some other rainbow glitter dimension, where running up a hill seemed effortless and like a gift I could not have anticipated.  These are the sorts of crazy beautiful that keep me running, and delighted to see what might be around the next bend.

Today on the streets of Istanbul I have heard the Muslim call to prayer three times.  This, too, has a haunting and beautiful, other-worldly quality to it that I quite enjoy.
In our attempt to stay awake today, Greg and I agreed to try Turkish coffee--for the experience and for the caffeine.  It should be known here that neither of us drink coffee.  Ever.  It should also be known that Turkish coffee is thick and strong, not like coffee most other places.  We were expecting bitter sludge, but it actually turned out to be delicious.  Greg did accidentally drink too far down into his cup, which left him chomping on some coffee grounds that are meant to remain in the bottom of the cup.  I was drinking more slowly, and so was able to benefit from Greg's misfortune.  The coffee was accompanied by a piece of pistachio Turkish delight.  I love this gooey dessert and have already consumed so much of it in my few hours in the country.  Do not fear, I will continue to do so until I depart--I promise!

Sunday, April 1, 2012


Okay, so I tested out the ankle on Thursday, jogging 1/2 a mile with intermittent walking.  Yesterday I ran about a mile.  Today I graded history papers for several hours and simply could not sit here any longer.  So, got out of the apartment and ran the short loop in the park.  Post-run, happy to report that the ankle seems to be handling the 2.5 miles without much complaint.

It's a beautiful sort of dreary out.  Everything is just budding--the branches of young trees seemed to be mischievously stretching out toward me as I ran by them.  It's been threatening to rain all day, and just began to spit a little halfway through my run.  Not a big deal, though, since it's fairly warm out.  Plus, I was so happy to be running again, I could not have cared.
I never thought I'd say, "I was so happy to be running."  Weird how things change over time.

I continue to ice my foot twice a day, much to the amusement of whoever happens to be in the room with me while I do it.  It's inconvenient and oh so cold, but does seem to be accelerating the healing process.

Back to work.  Only four more days until spring break...