Let’s Pretend…

In the opening scene of Season 7 of Project Runway, Heidi walks into the bathroom.  It’s really steamy, and she doesn’t know why.  She thought she was alone.

She goes to open the shower door and is shocked to see Tim Gunn standing in her shower.  Tim turns around, smiles and says, “Hello Heidi!  How are you doing this morning?  I thought I’d get an early start.  I’m delighted to start our first season of Project Runway on Lifetime!”

Horrified, Heidi realizes that…

(a) Tim Gunn must be really confused;

(B) She really needs to stop eating before bed; and

(C) Season 6 of Project Runway was all a dream.

(More like a nightmare.)

Prepping for the Party

Every year for the last 10 years, I have had a combination Holiday/Birthday party at my apartment, wherever it was at the time.  And every year it’s one of the most exciting and stressful times in my life, because I have to consider one very important thing:

What will I make to eat?

You see, I’m Italian (in case you haven’t guessed), and us Italians like to do one thing, and we do it very well.  We make food for our friends and family.  And when we make food, we make enough to feed an army.

For me, it goes back to my childhood, when my Nana and my Aunt Rita would prepare Sunday dinner for the family.  Nana would never serve store-bought, dry pasta… for shame!  Nana made pasta from scratch!  And she’d make a TON of it.

On those Sundays we’d arrive and on my Uncle John’s bed (he was a priest, and he had a bedroom for when he would come to visit Nana) there would be a huge white sheet with rows and rows of that evening’s pasta laid upon it.  Some days it was spaghetti or linguini; others it was stuffed ravioli.  Some days it was gnocchi.  Whatever it was, it was all homemade and, we knew from experience, incredibly delicious.

That tradition also carried through to our family Christmas Eve dinners, where we observed our own version of the Feast of the Seven Fishes.  There was, of course, the Italian staple, baccala, served both fried and in sauce; an anchovy-bread crumb-walnut pasta; numerous breaded and fried fish (croppi was one I remember liking a lot); as well as the standard calimari and, for starters, shrimp cocktail.  Add to that the amazing fried potato rolls with the name I can never spell, and a plethora of delicious dessert items, and you had yourself one heck of a feast.

So as I got older and moved out on my own, I kept the traditions of feeding the world alive.  My first official party was actually a New Year’s Eve party in my very first apartment in Wicker Park.  I don’t think I did a pasta dish, but I do recall making Italian Beef for the very first time.  At my first Holiday/Birthday party, however, I did make some pasta… probably Mostaciolli.  I didn’t have that many people there, because my apartment at the time was very small; but it did mark the first of many to come.

The next party was with my roommates in Andersonville – Chad, Jason and I.  Our last names started with A, B and C; so we called it the “House of ABC Holiday Party.”  I went pretty nuts for this one, as I recall.  I made stuffed shells… at least 3-4 huge pans of them.  It took FOREVER, and I was so exhausted by the time the party started… but everyone loved them.  That was the party that really started the tradition.  From there, in subsequent years, I made lasagna (again), mostaccioli, Italian beef (again), meatball bombers, and then chili.

Chili was always the favorite.  It was easy to make, comparatively inexpensive, and still had a place in my family history– the recipe was my Dad’s.  So for the last few years, I’ve been making chili, and everyone comes expecting it.

But this year I think I’m going to try something really different.  I have my ideas, but I won’t reveal them just yet.  Just suffice it to say that those who taste this will WANT the recipe.  And it’s so easy, too.

Yes, the holidays are fun and planning the party is a lot of work, but the end result is always a good time.  No matter how decorated my place is (and it will be QUITE decorated), if I don’t have some yummy treats for everyone to enjoy, the evening just won’t seem complete.

Maybe someday I’ll feel inspired (and have the money) to make 9 pans of lasagna again.  But for now, as long as it’s delicious and everyone likes it, I’ll make it easy on myself.

Justice Served

One of my last posts on my blog before it was shut down and subsequently moved here told the story of the break-in that occurred in July, where someone stole my computer and camera and ransacked my apartment.  Back then, it seemed highly unlikely they would ever find who did it, and certainly unlikely they would ever find my things that were taken.

I’m happy to report that at least 1/2 of that scenario proved to work out for the best.  I got a call in about mid-October from the detective who said they caught the guy and arrested him based on the fingerprints they found on my window.  Upon his arrest, they questioned him about my break-in and many others in the area, and he admitted to many of them, including mine.  I’m not sure of the tactics they used to get that admission, but it didn’t matter to me.

The detective told me the guy’s name, and of course I didn’t know who he was… but of course upon hearing his name I built this profile of what he looked like, what he acted like, and who he was.  Call it what you want– I think everyone does it.  We immediately assume that someone who does something like this is a big, mean-looking guy, maybe in his mid-20s or 30s, and strung out on drugs or booze or whatever.  I was afraid to see him; afraid to face him, because I didn’t know what the outcome would be if I did testify; and I sure as heck didn’t want some big ol’ moose knowing my name and address and coming after me if he was set free.

The detective also told me they were having a hearing in Municipal Court to determine if they had enough evidence to prosecute him.  I was asked to testify against him, where I needed to say simply that (A) I did not know him – I didn’t; (B) I did not give him permission to enter my apartment – I didn’t; and (C) I did not know anyone who would give him permission to do so – I didn’t.  After a few days of deciding if I wanted to go through with all this, I decided it was worth it, and made plans to attend the hearing.

On the day of the hearing, they called the guy into the courtroom.  He was in jail, so they brought him in from a rear entrance.  I kept hearing this tinkling sound that I think was the keys they used to unlock the door, but to me they sounded like chains.  I don’t know why that affected me so much, but it gave me a chill.

Then they brought the guy out, and I was shocked to see that he was this scrawny kid; maybe 5’7″ at the tallest.  They brought him before the judge, and he asked him his name and age.

He was 17 years old.

I never expected the reaction I had.  It wasn’t anger or disdain, and it wasn’t hatred toward him.  It was actually forgiveness.  Yes, I wanted him to pay for what he did to me– and, as it turned out, to many others– but I also realized that I had to forgive him for doing it.

I looked at his face, and I saw an emotionless, empty soul.  He looked lost and forgotten.  There was no family in the courtroom to support him; no friends or any support system whatsoever.  The kid was alone.

Call me a bleeding-heart liberal or a compassionate wimp; but I felt sorry for the kid.

I answered the questions that were asked of me and went into another room while the Detective gave his answers.  After a while, the attorney returned to the room and told me that they were proceeding with his case — the judge felt they had enough evidence.  So I left.

Walking out of the courthouse, I felt mixed emotions– a slight sense of vindication, but then a sense of sadness.  I didn’t know what would come next for this kid, but surely his life is forever changed because of it.  Whether that has any type of good effect on him or not remains to be seen… but I played a part in what will happen to him.

In any case, he won’t be on the streets anymore, and I can live my life a little better knowing that.

Now I just have to replace some of my missing things!

All Moved In- Welcome to the New Rcktman.com!

Finally, at long last, I have transfered my “rcktman.com” domain to this blog.  The move is complete… I have a new blog home!

My old blog address “http://www.rcktman.com/blog” no longer works, however… so if you still have my blog listed on your blogroll (I’d be surprised if you still did!), it will need to be changed to “http://rcktman.com.”  (As of right now, the “www” prefix isn’t working, but after a day or so, I am sure it will work just fine.)

Now that everything is transfered, I hope to get back to some good old fashioned blogging.  It’s been a long time, so maybe I’ll get back into it again.