Tag Archives: Amy Kraft

End of Season Clearance

This year’s wedding season is over and I’ve walked away with a lot of memories, apricot jam,  Indian cookies and a wooden item that I’m pretty sure is either a letter opener or a shoehorn (I’ve been using it as both).

The weddings we have attended have been near and far and incredibly diverse. There was an Indian wedding complete with a horse on the guest list, a Montreal extravaganza with original songwriting and interpretive dance numbers, a chic black tie affair and an old-fashioned clam bake. And the best part was, we only had to show up. Here are the highlights from each event:

 

Men In Black

One of Sebastien’s work colleagues invited us to a black tie wedding at the New York Palace Hotel. Super chic. I’m pretty sure the dress code for regular hotel guests is black tie, too. Fortunately we followed protocol and had no trouble at the door. Sebastien rented a tux and I just wore my wedding dress again. (Getting a blue wedding dress was the best idea ever.) When we arrived however, it seemed that other guests believed the black tie to be optional. One girl was wearing a plaid dress from H&M and several guys were in the basic suit and tie. I hoped that they would get formally reprimanded by the hosts.

Here we are, appropriately dressed

Here we are, appropriately dressed

The majority of the guests were either Harvard or MIT grads and they were mostly interested in asking me what I did and then looking unimpressed. I was mostly interested in practicing my extremely limited Japanese on the sushi chefs at the cocktail hour, though.

A guy named Pete asked if he could join Sebastien and I at our table. He was another MIT grad, but he was pretty cool. (I don’t think he would even register on the autism spectrum.) Pete lived between Boston and New York and owned his own company. Something financial. I zoned out when he and Sebastien talked shop. Pete lived in Berlin for a while and traveled around a lot, so we all found a common interest. I told him about the time I took my dad to China. “Be prepared when you’re traveling to Asia with a senior citizen,” I said. “Two hours after we landed in the country, my dad managed to lose all of his insulin. And he kept leaving his cane all over the place.”

At dinner, Sebastien was seated beside a woman with incredibly bad breath so we spent as much time as possible on the dance floor. It was at this wedding that I learned I could no longer wear heels.

 

Buddha Belly

As traditional as I’ve heard Indian weddings can be, this one was probably the most relaxed and unstructured wedding that I have ever attended.

It started outside, where we followed the groom who rode in on a horse. Most people danced around. I stood on the sidelines fanning myself because you could do that if you wanted. (If I had known ahead of time, I might have even stayed in the air conditioned lobby with the croissants and coffee because you could do that, too.)

Then we all went to the country club balcony to find our seats for the ceremony. I’m not really sure what went down during the ceremony because there was so much going on. The bride and groom and priest were talking under a canopy-like structure called a mandap while kids played in the garden and guests chatted with one another. A lot of people were on their phones or looking down at newspapers and servers kept stopping by with mango lassis and water I couldn’t keep up with what section of the ceremony we were on, but every now and then we were encouraged to get up and throw rice at the bride and groom.

Then in the middle of the ceremony, a voice came on the loudspeaker and announced that the buffet was open. Right in the middle of the couple dancing around some rice or placing jewels on one another’s forehead or something. Sebastien and I looked around at the other guests to make sure this wasn’t a trick. Sure enough, everyone — family members, friends, acquaintances — shuffled into the reception hall to eat while the bride and groom finished up. It was so refreshing that for once we didn’t have to feign interest in a religious ritual. (I mean it’s cool if that’s your thing, but let’s be honest, that’s the most boring part of a wedding.)

The food was amazing and we hung around and chatted with some friends. After lunch, there was a four hour break until the evening when the wedding picked up again. But we only had a rental car for the day and couldn’t stay. On the way back I got to practice driving a bit, which was awesome. And I parallel parked.

 

Do you take this lobster

The second we entered Cape Cod I harassed Sebastien until he stopped at a roadside diner so I could get a lobster roll. I thought it was going to be my only chance. Boy was I wrong.

I ordered a monster of a sandwich, which, by the way cost $18. Is it just me or does that seem a little ridiculous? I was in Cape Cod so I figured that the lobsters there just walked ashore and accidentally fell into boiling pots of water. Then we got changed at a motel that reminded me of the place John Cusack’s character stayed at in “Identity.” I hoped that our evening would turn out better.

And it did.

Going in I knew this wedding was filled with more Harvard grads so I had already planned on passing myself off as a cat whisperer if anyone asked what I did for a living. (It wasn’t a total lie. We foster kitten and I do have a way with them.) But it never came up. The ceremony was short and I spent most of the cocktail hour talking to a really pregnant woman. She was telling me about ridiculous hospital procedures in NYC. For instance, she was told that she had to show up at the hospital with a car seat to take the newborn home in or they wouldn’t discharge her. “We don’t even have a car because we live in the city, but I need to buy a car seat so I can take my child home.”

When we all sat down for dinner, servers handed out bibs, wet wipes, crackers and tiny forks. A pot bigger than me was wheeled into the dining hall and we all got our very own lobster. I took a romantic photo with my lobster, which I named Manfred, before devouring him.

The lobster and I

The lobster and I

I also used the opportunity to tell everyone at our table about the history of lobsters and how they used to be a poor man’s food. “Lobsters are the cockroaches of the ocean,” I said, sucking flesh out of the claw.

 

It’s a Small World

The last wedding of the season was Sebastien’s cousin’s in Montreal. Berenice is Polish and Haitian and her husband to be is German and Indian. So there were guests from all of those countries. Then there were a number of Brazilians in attendance because Sanjay, the husband, spent some time living in Brazil. My brain was pretty fried by the end of the night bouncing from language to language. And so many of the bride and groom’s friends were artists who all put on great shows. We had a belly dancer, a Brazilian band, a few singer-songwriters and a poet who read to us in multiple languages.

Since it was assumed that we were all  artists, someone announced that we should draw pictures in the guestbook. I drew a picture of a bunny rabbit with arms that looked like boobs. I didn’t know how to fix it so I just signed Sebastien’s name underneath. (At least it was better than how Sebastien and I defiled another friend’s wedding guestbook with random, bizarre phrases and sentences. I filled a page writing Redrum. On another page I wrote, help I’m trapped in this book and I cant get out.)

I didn’t see a cameraman once during the reception and was worried that there wouldn’t be any documentation of Sebastien and I enjoying ourselves, so we asked Sebastien’s sister to capture us having a good time.

 

Showing our table mates that we're ready for candid photos of people having fun.

Showing our table mates that we’re ready for candid photos of people having fun.

 

All and all it was an awesome summer of weddings. Please invite us to more.

 


Really Lost in Translation (like seriously, way, way out there lost)

One night we were walking down the street in Tokyo when a group of Japanese teenagers passed by. They looked like proper enough young lads, dressed in jeans and button down shirts. They were carrying backpacks and school books and I suspected that they were on their way home from a long night of group study. Then Steve and Sebastien started laughing uncontrollably. At first I couldn’t understand why. But then I noticed the hat that one of the lads was wearing, which read EAT SHIT! across the front. The poor kid didn’t even have a clue.

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That’s the thing with Japan. The country is rife with horrible, horrible English translations. A young girl we passed in a train station was wearing a hat that read I ❤ Haters, another woman carried a bag that said Tits & Co. in the style of Tiffany & Co. If there’s a vulgar English word, you better believe it has been stitched onto a t-shirt or backpack or baseball cap in Japan. There are probably factories throughout the country mass-producing Valentine’s Day gifts with the words Cunt or Jackass printed across the top just so a young Japanese man can show his special someone that he really cares, in English. Or maybe the Japanese just don’t understand the significance of having a word or phrase plastered across your chest. Americans sure do and they wear their words with pride.

When we were boarding the subway in Osaka I made eye contact with a big black man. When you’re in a foreign country, its comforting to see someone who looks familiar, and most people get really excited. On several occasions Sebastien and I were greeted with a nod from a white or black person, desperate to speak and share in the common bond of not having taken a normal shit in a week.

This man was no different. Once I acknowledged his presence he began shaking his head uncontrollably. Words spewed out of his mouth like a volcano erupting. “Hi, how are you, how do you like it here?” He continued to ask questions without giving us a moment to answer. “Where are you guys from?” he said. Before I could respond he answered for us. “Texas?”

“No,” I said. The only reason he could have thought that was because of my sweater, which said Texas. I bought it because I was cold while waiting for a plane in Lubbock a few years ago. It’s the only sweater I own and I don’t understand why people automatically assume I come from there just because I wear it. Who wears a sweater from the place they are from anyway, except for Canadian backpackers? Most people don’t even like the place where they were born. When I was a kid growing up in Florida I lied and told people I was born in California because I didn’t want to be from there. And no offense Texas, but the sweater doesn’t really attract the right caliber of people.

As we made our way through the country and I kept getting the nod from fellow foreigners, I thought about turning the sweater inside out. I have nothing wrong with the place, I just didn’t want to be mislabeled like the boy who had pussy written on his t-shirt.

 

One night when we were back in New York, we were having dinner with our neighbors, Mike and Tammy. Mike was wearing his Tennessee t-shirt. He told us how he ran into a man at Whole Foods Market who saw his shirt and stopped him because he also went to Tennessee State University. The two chatted for a while and knowing Mike and his kindness, they probably made plans to barbecue together.

“I run into people who went to Tennessee State all the time in this city,” he said with pride.

“I have a Texas sweater and bums are the only people that stop me on the street,” I said.


Hat Tip

I had planned on returning from Japan with an authentic kimono, a life-size Maneki neko (happy cat) and platters of Japanese food plastic replicas to trick my friends when they came over for dinner. But those items weren’t going to fit in my Jansport backpack. So I decided on getting a summer hat. I figured I could fold it up and toss it in a pouch without a problem. The last summer hat I had was made from a fake fur collar that I took off my corduroy jacket to wrap around my head. It wasn’t really a summer hat, although one could argue that the hole in the middle provided a cooling effect to the top of my head. I only wore it to get into the Longchamp Racecourse in Paris for free on Ladies’ Day. At the ticket counter the vendor asked to see my chapeau. I pointed to the bird’s nest atop my head and restrained myself from feverishly scratching at my scalp. “I’m wearing it,” I said. The man shook his head, but I insisted that it was a hat. “Almost,” he said, and finally agreed to let me in.

This time was going to be different, though. There were no tricks up my sleeve. I just wanted a hat. When I mentioned it to Sebastien he suggested that I buy a rice picker hat so I could start a new fashion trend in New York City. I suspected that Sebastien had a limited knowledge of fashion trends and laughed it off, certain that those hats remained in another century.

I was wrong. One morning we were walking down the street in Kyoto when we passed in front of a store with a rack of rice picker hats that called to Sebastien. “Look, here it is,” he said, taking one and placing it on my head. His eyes sparkled. A husband couldn’t have been prouder and I couldn’t understand why. I wasn’t actually serious about wearing the hat. By the looks of it, the thing wasn’t fashionable or even comfortable.

We stood in the doorway for too long because a woman inside of the store began walking towards us. Sebastien pulled out his wallet and the next thing I knew I was the proud owner of the most ridiculous hat (aside from the aforementioned fake hat, of course). ricepickerhat I wore that hat around all day because I had no other choice. It was so big and inflexible that I couldn’t just crumple it up and toss it in my backpack. If I hung it off my back the chin strap choked me and if I held it in my hand I couldn’t reach my camera to snap photos. I quickly started to regret the purchase. I had to lug this flying saucer all over the country from shinkensan to subway, from ryokan to rokka [locker]. It was like a pimple that just wouldn’t go away. I would have thrown it out, but the Japanese don’t believe in garbage cans on street corners. (Surprisingly it was incredibly clean though.)

On the last few days of our trip however, I started to get compliments. A young woman who looked to be in her early twenties approached me in a train station.  “Where did you get that?” she said, pointing to my hat. Her voice shook with desperation. “From a store on the street,” I said and considered just handing it to her. She turned to her friends, a group of backpackers from North America. “She got it on the street,” she yelled, running back to them.

Then, at a hotel in Tokyo, a clerk admired the fine craftsmanship of the hat while placing our belongings behind their concierge desk. “Wow you do not see this hat anywhere,” she said. Very nice.” I beamed with pride at my burden.

I was beginning to think that the hat was a good investment and imagined wearing it around town when I returned home. Maybe I would show it off at a Broadway show or treat it to a stroll through Central Park. But I was reminded of its bulk as I tried to shove it in the overhead compartment on our return flight. I knew if I wore the thing on the subway during rush hour that only one of us was actually going to squeeze on. The hat was just too big for any city.

When we got home I couldn’t even find a proper place to hang it in our tiny apartment. I placed on top of the living room lamp until I cleaned out some clothes in the closet. That’s when it hit me that the hat made a perfect lampshade.


Jesus on the Temple Trail

Kyoto_shrine

When we awoke in Kyoto, Steve, our fearless leader (a.k.a. the only person who took the time to figure out what there was to do in the city) took us on a trail of temples and shrines. First stop was the Tainai-meguri, the womb of a goddess. No, really. At first I thought it was just a bad English translation. But after giving two coins to a Japanese man, he pointed to a stairwell that descended into complete darkness.

“What is this, what’s going on?” I called out hoping someone would respond in English. Sebastien was ahead of me and told me to just hold onto the railway as I walked.

“Are we in the womb?” I said.

“Yes.”

“At least there’s no blood in here,” I said. All things considered it wasn’t as grotesque as I thought it would be. And I’ve seen some disgusting stuff including my own birth. It was an accident. I was playing hookey from school one day and rummaged through my parents’ VHS tapes for something to watch. One of the tapes had my name on it so I thought it’d be fun to check out. It was not. My dad must’ve been positioned right behind the doctor and he made full use of the zoom feature on the camera.

We finally reached a glowing rock and Sebastien told me to make a wish. Technically to make the wish come true I had to spin in either direction. I didn’t want to so I just made the wish and walked out. My wish came true anyway because seconds later we were back outside. “I could get used to these gods,” I said. “They actually listen.”

From there we skipped through the cherry blossoms from shrine to shrine making wishes. I gave my suffering to a piece of paper that I threw into a bowl of water and I gave my knee pain to an ox (although I accidentally rubbed his balls instead of his knees like I was supposed to).

We stopped at Jishu Shrine, the home of the god of love and matchmaking and watched as tourists attempted to secure success in love by walking from one stone to another with their eyes closed.

It was a full morning. But by 11am, my knee was hurting and all I really wanted was an ice cream. But there was no god or goddess for that.

We walked down the steps along Chawan-zaka or Teapot Lane, looking in the various souvenir and tea shops along the way on the hunt for a late morning snack. I saw tourists with ice cream, which momentarily rekindled my faith. But I got distracted and photobombed some Chinese tourists dressed as geishas.

photobombing

I figured if the people didn’t like it, they could make a wish to the photoshop god.


Killer Kitten Needs a Good Home

Sebastien and I have been fostering kittens since we adopted our cat Siegfried. We got him from a woman who runs a non-profit organization that rescues stray cats. She needed some help with temporary homes for the animals and we thought it would be a fun service.

Usually when we receive a new foster kitten, it’s a mangy, stinky, ball of fur that can’t tell it’s tail from its nose. Siegfried mothers it for a while and then the kitten enters what I’d like to call Siegfried’s School of Etiquette. In SSE, kittens learn how to not beg for food or steal food off of plates, how to clean themselves, how to be playful but professional, and much much more.

The foster kitten that we have now is failing all of her classes. Her name is Bridgette and she has wreaked havoc on our humble home. She bites, she hisses, she pisses on our furniture and will attack anything that breathes. She shows no remorse for her actions.

And she’s in need of a good home. Because we can’t take it anymore.

Looking for a little fur ball to cuddle up with on the couch? You’ve come to the wrong place. Bridgette will go after every limb on your body like its a piece of catfish. She won’t rub up against your leg when you’re standing around the house. She’ll attack it, and dig her claws into your thigh.

Planning on getting a new couch for the living room? You can also plan on Bridgette urinating all over it. She’s just does it once though, to remind people that she can do whatever she wants.

Have other pets at home in need of a companion? Bridgette loves to play with other animals, mostly sinking her teeth into their necks or sneaking up on them while they’re sleeping. And you can forget about sleeping, too. Bridgette will keep you awake all night, bouncing on your stomach and attaching anything that is under the blanket.

Think you can just put her in the cage for the night? Think again. Bridgette’s meow can reach about 98dB–that’s as loud as a hand drill.

But she’s really cute.

Bridgette

 

When she’s not in kill mode.

 

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Your Diet is Killing Me

My morning did not start out so good on Sunday. I slept for a really long time and expected to just sit on the couch for about twelve hours watching TV shows on Amazon Prime, which I accidentally purchased a couple of days ago. It wasn’t until I started to make my morning coffee that I realized that it was going to be a bad day. When I opened the fridge to get the milk, I saw that it had an expiration date that had well passed. I’d actually been drinking it for a few days after it expired. It didn’t even taste bad. Also, I read an article that expiration dates on food products are picked rather conservatively, so a lot of people are throwing out good food before it goes bad. So yeah, I’m going to listen to that piece of advice, mostly because I’m lazy.

sourmilkBut this milk had some chunks floating in it so I figured it was time to say good-bye. That of course meant that I didn’t have anything to put in my coffee.

I walked into the bedroom where Sebastien was still sleeping and jumped on the bed next to him. “The milk is bad and I don’t have anything to put in my coffee,” I whined, kicking my feet on the bed to make sure he would wake up. He rolled over. “There’s soy milk in the fridge,” he said.

“But I can’t drink that. It makes me even gassier than dairy and you don’t want me stinking up the house all day.”

He was already snoring before I finished my plea. He’s so healthy now with his soy milk and limited desserts and calorie counting. It makes me sick. And the worst part is that he taught me all of my bad eating habits: dessert every night, ordering butter or lard-filled dishes at restaurants. I’ve developed such a sweet and meat tooth that there’s no stopping me now. I even eat like him when we first started dating, which means shoveling the food into my mouth without a care that there’s pasta sauce all over my cheeks and nose or that strands of spaghetti are dangling from my mouth to make me look like the bearded lady. I used to be the healthy one in the relationship, but I guess I’ve just decided it was time to let myself go.

A few years ago I did give Sebastien instructions to inform me when I was getting too fat by way of a post-it note. The note, which I composed, read: I love you Amy, but you’re getting too fat. Sebastien at first refused to do it. I reminded him that in this case he was only acting as the mailman so he was free of any consequences. I’m pretty sure he threw the note out anyway.

It’s just hard to eat like we once did. I’ll go to the grocery store and pick up cheese-filled fish or barbecue pork. When I get home Sebastien inspects the packages, usually mumbling something about high in cholesterol or a lot of fat. I guess some people change and grow and start eating healthy crap.

Although I do have to give him credit for bringing me desserts. For the most part, whenever I declare that I want carrot cake from Peacefood cafe at 9:30pm, Sebastien willingly puts on his coat and shoes and gets it for me. It’s happened so many times that the wait staff refer to him as “the guy who gets dessert for his wife.” So yeah, that’s pretty awesome.

These thoughts all popped into my head as I stood in the living room, half-dressed, to begrudgingly go out and get a new carton of milk for myself. I didn’t want to do it. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I started stomping my feet like a little kid having a temper tantrum, while my cat, Siegfried, watched with indifference from his perch in the loft.

I caved. I dropped everything and grabbed the soy milk out of the fridge to pour into my coffee. It actually wasn’t bad and it was vanilla flavored so I was into that. I suddenly remembered my days of being a fake vegetarian and vegan. I did it mostly to find an identity in high school and to piss off my family, who had to make special meals for me because I professed to care about the animals. Of course, whenever no one was looking I’d grab chunks of meatloaf leftovers in the fridge or wolf down cold cuts.

I eventually admitted that I was not a vegetarian, although I do like soy products sometimes. It was nice to come out of the closet and embrace who I really am: a carnivore. I guess we all change, or make adjustments accordingly. Although it’s easy to slip back into our old habits, especially when it comes to eating right. Hey, maybe I can pretend to be a vegan again to really piss Sebastien off.


A Killer Tic

About a week ago my Level 1 improv class had a show. (Yeah!) It was our first time onstage together at The P.I.T. and we rocked it. It was a lot of fun. Getting up in front of a group of strangers to perform on the spot is not for the faint of heart though. It’s actually pretty damn scary and nerve-racking. However, some people such as myself get a thrill out of it.

One of our classmates had the show filmed and I watched it a few days later to relive the memories and see how it looked. During the second half of the show when my group went onstage, I watched myself listening to my peers as they stepped out in front of the crowd and told stories based off the word “pirate.” I was listening very intently to come up with a premise or an idea for a two-minute scene. I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t even realize it when I started to fidget with my wedding ring. But there I was, twisting and turning the ring around my finger in a trance-like state like Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings.

Ok, maybe it’s not exactly like that because the ring on my finger is not pure evil and it will not cause the destruction of the entire world. And, unfortunately, it does not make me invisible. Nevertheless, I have developed this uncontrollable urge to twist it around my finger whenever I am nervous or unsure of something. It’s not the first time that I’ve caught myself mindlessly fidgeting with the symbol of eternal love.
In all fairness it’s a relatively benign tic compared to some others I’ve heard of: body slamming, cheek biting, licking subway poles and windows. So I guess I can learn to live with my little habit.

While I came to terms with my own tic I was reminded of an episode of Murder She Wrote. At the end of the show when Jessica was revealing the killer to a group of frizzy-haired, power-pump wearing woman (this was the late 1980’s so that was the style) she mentioned that one of the suspects was always twisting his wedding ring around his finger to indicate that he was a newly wed. Don’t ask me what that had to do with the plot or how that helped find the killer because for the life of me I can’t remember (bonus points for any person who can identify which episode of Murder She Wrote I am referring to). However, that minor detail was of great importance in solving the case.

For the record, I have never killed anyone and don’t plan to in the future. But I suspect that if I do commit a crime, someone might try to use my nervous tic against me. Well the joke is on you J.B. Fletcher, because I’ve been twisting my ring for the past three years.

You can check out my class show here:


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