pork popcorn and all things new york

I leave for New York tomorrow, to-do list in hand. At the top of it, like the good Jew that I am: pork fried popcorn. Apparently that’s the draw to Spitzer’s Corner. That, and the homemade donuts. How fast can you say angioplasty? I don’t care. It’s rare that I’m able to indulge in such toothsome confections here in Austin. I’m actually not the biggest meat eater, aside from lamb, so all the brisket, ribs, and andouille sausage are kind of wasted on me. I was adding to my list today and reasoned a wine shop would not be completely outrageous. Italian Wine Merchants, in particular. Yes, just what I need: another thing to carry home. As it is there will be the laptop and bulky Nikon D300 SLR (I only say this because so many ask). I’m not entirely sure how I’ll fit everything in. Not just into my bod, or my schedule, but into my suitcase.

It wouldn’t be the worst idea to pack an empty bag inside my luggage tonight. My life used to be so much different. I actually bought a new top each time there was a birthday party to attend. Absurd. But it’s what I did, what my friends did, too. And now the birthday parties are in backyards with water wings and cakes in the shape of Dora. The other odd thing about anticipating going back is, I associate New York with being single. And it will be strange to be back and not have plans with a boy. No intimate meet-ups for wine, no butterflies in my stomach. As I said to a friend recently, “at least I won’t have to worry too much about what I wear now.” And it makes me sad in a way, to say goodbye to all I knew. The oddest bit is, I’ve never felt this before. Not when I first moved away, not when I returned with the babies, just now, returning alone for the first time. There’s a disappointment, a sadness, the way goodbye often is. Even though I’m saying hello again.

Lately I’ve been feeling anxious, missing, questioning my choices. Is Austin for me anymore? I don’t want to move back to New York City, but I’m missing something. Friends, family, the newness factor, where there are openings of new restaurants, where there’s an energy when you open your door, people walking places, not in circles around a lake (and the type that were always circling Central Park I avoided anyway). It’s also a feeling I’m sure to solve with some crusty bread and a glass of red. But if it snows while I’m in New York, I will surely weep. Until then, though, I will charge forward with my lists of eyebrow threading appointments, of drinking and laughing and sharing stories with the girls I love so. The pork popcorn is just confetti.

Though I must also confess, when I think of such celebrations, of drinking and parties and cab rides, scarves and braving the cold just one more block, I remember, so clearly, what it was to want, so desperately, to have someone with which to share it all. At celebrations, I’d get a little quiet, like something was hanging inside me. I’d pine for a man to roll my eyes with as someone inevitably did or said something inappropriate, especially when that someone was me. Proximity mattered. I didn’t want to share it over the phone, via text, or IM. I wanted someone to accompany me to a life I wanted to live. Not just someone to notice I was no longer in the room as the guests continued to file into a crowded apartment, but I wanted someone close, to watch the lights in apartment windows across the way, escaping to a terrace wondering about the lives of strangers feeding their cat or adjusting their TV (not that anyone does this, actually). To live and witness the quieter moments with me, in leans, and toasts, and lost footing because of how much wine I found. I wanted an escape from that party, where our moment mattered more than the one we’d come to celebrate. Where we’d create our own interesting story. The one we’d remember for the rest of our lives.

We’d awake hungover, and I’d say, “Now don’t kill me. I know I hate Chinese food, but how do you feel about dim sum? I know a place with good pork.”

popcorn cooked in pork fat


  1. MUST bring back bagels! PLEEEEEZZZE I am DYING here.

    FROM SK: Good point. Bagels and wine. The hard to find wines no one seems to carry in Austin.

  2. Only a few flurries on Friday, so I guess you might be able to hold your tears at bay.

    Loved your last paragraph – I'm in a confusing long-distance relationship and the one thing I miss the most is having those quiet moments without the pressure of This Is Our Weekend Together So We Have To Do Amazing Things.

    ps. have you heard of Bar Boulud? It just opened near Lincoln Center and just can't wait to check it out.

    FROM SK: Yes, I've heard of it… well, I've read about it and how it's Daniel's one miss. Let me know.

  3. When you come back to Austin, you need to drive through Mrs. Johnson's on Airport and 50thish and get a hot, fresh-baked donut.

  4. I know the place with good pork. It's called Ping's, and it's at 22 Mott. The dim sum there rocks. Had some last Sunday.


  5. I wish I could be more eloquent, but can I just say — you've described every married/taken single girl's story? It's not so black and white as your detractors would like to think. There's life there in those single lives, those single veins. When we're no longer single, we still have lives and veins.

  6. I went to 'Ino today, I devoured different types of bruschetta and the truffle oil egg toast, I had two glasses of wine…then I wandered around the village all day long….I hopped in and out of cafes, and had more than one cappucino and definitely more than one glass of wine….I brought my journal and I watched all the couples pour in for their after work dinners, I listened to them catch up on their days….and though I was writing about having one of the best days of my own, I felt a pang of jealousy when they debated over which desserts to share…I polished off tiramisu and ordered another glass of wine.

    Then I fell in love with a composer who I eavesdropped on for twenty minutes at Three Lives Bookstore, he of course, didn't notice…

    Your last paragraph is exactly where I'm at right now….it's nice, but there are more moments than not, where I am completely lonely. Not to mention, I don't have any friends in the city yet. YET.

  7. I love your blog. But I do hate that your RSS feed now is only partial–your site is blocked at my workplace (for being too… sexual?) but I could always read it through RSS.

    But I understand.

    Have fun in NYC. That is the thing about life, you can't choose all the possible paths and even the best choices mean sacrificing something else.

    FROM SK: I'll see what I can do about this.

  8. I'm at that point in my life. Single, young, jet-setting at the new job in San Antonio. I left Austin behind in July for a step in the direction I wanted my life to go. To change my surroundings, get out of my routine, take part in an adventure that I get to write. A life different from everything I knew for 8 years. How I long for a jog around the circular Town Lake right now. I hated looking for parking on a beautiful days when people who wouldn't break a sweat if they were paid came to my lovely lake; but, the people watching on those miles around the lake was just wonderful. Especially when the hot, shirts-off fellas passed by.
    I consider myself single currently, although I've dated my beau for 8 months now and have known him for 5 years. It's not that I don't think he's wonderful; but, I think it's that I'm afraid I'll lose myself if there's someone I have to answer to, explain my decisions and justify my comings and goings to. I won't even admit I'm in a relationship, just that we're "dating." I told him it sounded more fun…and, I think it does. Relationship sounds so predictable.
    There's the part of me that loves my single day-to-day. There's also the part of me that knows I'm a better person with the challenge of him in my life.
    Just like you, I'm heading to my past life this weekend. I'll spend it in the Warehouse District at my favorite before/after dinner bars, on Congress seeing old friends and visiting my old trail around the lake in my running shoes. I'm getting a hair cut and visiting Run-Tex and my favorite boutiques (would it kill SA to have non-corporate stores?).
    Enjoy your trip. And know that just like you miss NY, there are people that miss ATX terribly.

  9. Hey Stephanie,

    Hope you have a great time in NYC!!! I'm heading there the end of March and can't wait..

    A problem I'm having with my boyfriend right now is that I've come to realize that I need to live in a city or at least, the northeast area. I miss it terribly.

    He, however, would rather stay just where we are.. (I moved here to be with him at his new job) He doesn't like cities and doesn't miss the northeast (He's from New Jersey)

    I'm wondering.. do I leave the man to live where I'm happy? OR stay with a man who makes me happy and not be happy with the city I live in? Ahh

    P.S. By the way, and I know this is totally off topic, but I have to ask you as I love your taste.. where can I find a good soap pump dispenser for the bathroom? I am not particularly fond of them, but the bf wants one.. I don't see much out there but thought you might have one you love or have seen something I could order online? Thanks :)

    FROM SK: Skip the dispenser and get thee to Aveda for their Rosemary Mint hand soap (pump included). It makes your hands feel like they just brushed.

  10. umm… if you're feeling like you want a change, portland's beautiful, there's always something going on and it's the new hot spot for fabulous restaurants and oregonians know how to make some pretty kick ass wine!

    and i second the aveda rosemary mint hand soap… my friend's mom always has it and i love washing my hands at her house because the soap is so yummy and refreshing!

    have an absolute blast in new york! i'm looking forward to hearing some good stories and seeing some fun photos when you return!

  11. God this post resonates for me so much right now. I longed for nothing more than a person to share it all with when I was single. And I love my husband…but there are moments now where I long for single, for freedom, for those sexy nights and those moments of that first spark. But back then I longed for the person to share it all with. I would love to think that knowing this, I can learn to just be where I am and enjoy it. But that will probably only happen if I have a lobotomy and the part of my brain that thinks too much is removed. However I would never want that to happen because I also think that's the part of my brain that's passionate and loves all things worth loving.

    Anyhow, thanks, once again, for putting it into words so beautifully. It's so lovely to know that I'm not alone.

  12. Don't pack an empty bag. Make an hour of time on your last day in NY instead to mail yourself a box in Texas. What I usually do is mail home my dirty clothes and that makes room for the new stuff I'm bringing home. Bagels are ALWAYS carried on the plane, never EVER packed.

  13. "….the way goodbye often is. Even though I'm saying hello again."

    Hello, goodbuy. I feel a Target commercial coming on ;)

    Try to miss Austin while in NYC.

  14. Of course nostalgia or wistfulness for a place you once lived, and loved, is expected. But you seem to harbor a lot of anxiety and unfulfillment about your present. Based on your posts (all we have to go on, of course) you read as someone who always seems to stand in the way of her own happiness.

    I'm not saying you're not being accurate, but you seem to completely romanticize your life in New York and get all excited about the "single girl spending money" fantasy. And you write about that fantasy life with much more energy and passion than you do your present life in Austin with your family.

    When do you get to give yourself a sense of happiness in the present?

  15. I am so excited for you! The weather here is supposed to be nice so you won't have to do any weeping :)

    Have a wonderful time with the girls and your city!! Can't wait to hear all about it when you get back!

  16. Stephanie, have a wonderful time in NY. Like Woody says "I over-romanticise about New York, but the heart wants what it wants." You mentioned in previous post "Your girl" Diane Weist, did you see her in the movie "September"? Beautiful performance. I wish I was going to NY, haven't been there in a while and that's a crime!

  17. I'm going through the same thing right now, here in Austin. I stopped working, to stay at home, and feel like I am drowning. I am just so…. bored. I want to find someone to walk around the mall, or even frickin' Target with. Not to shop, but more to talk, gossip, hit up Starbucks.
    I think what my issue is, is that I am at a point that I am tired of putting myself out there. Trying to find new friends, that can substitute the friends who live elsewhere. I just want the connection to click, and not be forced.
    It's different for my husband, which makes things oh, so much harder.

  18. Lola: Your situation is kind of similar to mine… met fiance when he moved here from Hoboken (he was tired of the weather, NYC), stayed here with him after I graduated college even though I'd always planned to head NE and to a city – maybe THE city…and it's been two years since graduation and I am itching to get the hell out of here. We're engaged, so it's a bit different, but we've just mapped out a plan that puts me in grad school in a major east coast city and him joining me wherever I get a job. He knows it's what I need to be happy and he's completely supportive. We'll actually be doing the long distance thing after we're married, which is not unheard of, but we have no illusions that it will be easy. And it's worth it.

    For your situation, I'm not sure that's helpful – but what I'm saying is there should be some give and take, I think. I explained to my guy that it felt like all the points were in his column, if that makes sense, and none in mine. I know that I would regret not living somewhere that makes me happy (career prospects for me here are an issue too) and start to resent him for 'keeping' me here, if you will. Plus I kept reminding him of how terrible the schools are and he can't argue with that ;-) Of course I don't want to live somewhere he'll be miserable, but there's got to be a middle ground (maybe literally! the mid-Atlantic region?), somewhere we'll both be reasonably happy.

    This is the man I've chosen to spend my life with, but if it were a boyfriend that refused to move…I guess I would probably end up leaving him. It's hard enough to make a relationship work without building it on a sacrifice that you'll never really be okay with. That's my view, at least, but disclaimer: I'm in my mid-twenties. If I were much older, perhaps, or my priorities were more family-oriented (the proverbial biological clock maybe), I might not be so quick to advocate leaving a good relationship.

    Don't know if that helps at all – and not to jump to judging your relationship off of two tiny anecdotes, but you moved with him for his job, he wants a soap dispenser and you don't…I hope sometimes you do what YOU want. And most importantly – he encourages you to.

    Eek sorry for being so long-winded!

  19. it sounds like you are going through 'culture shock' so to speak. the funny part about culture shock is that you typically experience 6 months to a year after moving. i guess it's the time when your change really sinks in and you're able to now absorb it all.

    i have a feeling you'll be longing to return to austin

  20. I live in NYC, and I'm always on the look out for new (good) wine to try…

    What are some of your favorites?

  21. When my daughter was younger, I used to be able to get away to visit my old roommate who lived in Toronto.
    Just when I thought I couldn't take the slow pace of suburbia any longer, I'd shoot out for a weekend with her. It was always the jump- start I needed.
    I'd take the subway in to meet her, we'd talk about our respective days over martinis (sometimes bourbon sours or mint juleps) while getting ready to go out.We'd have fun at some jazz clubs, wake up late for brunch and an art gallery the next day. It was the best pick-me-up I could ever imagine.
    When I got back to my husband and daughter, I felt rejuvenated, happier and ready to tackle whatever came my way.
    I was only able to do this a couple of times a year but each time was so worth it.
    My friend has since moved out of Toronto and I've just relocated here to the US but I'm not far from a good cultural place (that I hear has some great jazz).

    I hope you have the best time. You deserve it. Every woman does.

  22. Tatum- Saw your comment and had to get a word in. Music Together? I wonder if your class (in Austin, I presume) is also doing the Sticks collection? My six month-old loves this CD and it has become the bane of my existence. I have nightmares about those songs, especially the Click Our Sticks one. Ack!!! I have found a bunch of adult-friendly kid music in the meantime in hopes of diversifying the collection. I'm loving (relatively speaking, of course) They Might Be Giants' the 123s and ABCs, as well as the Dan Zanes stuff. My efforts aside, I'm still humming "Hello, Everybody…So glad to see you…"

  23. I'm celebrating my first official Manhattan birthday this year! My first year here, I took off to the Dominican Republic for my birthday and last year, I had surgery.
    So this year I really want to do something fun that both my girlfriends and my guy friends will enjoy. Someone suggested Lucky Cheng's – what do you think?
    So excited that you'll be here this weekend! I'm officially moving into Manhattan (from Brooklyn) on Tuesday and I'm SO EXCITED!
    Welcome back!

  24. Yes, bring bagels. Austin does not know what a real bagel is. I call Austin bagels bread donuts.

    Andria- I totally agree with your post. I'm sitting at home with a newborn currently but I have tried for almost 2 years to make friends in Austin since moving from SF. I'll meet up with you!

  25. I love love love this post. I love that I'm not alone in missing bits and pieces of my old life, even though I'm so grateful for my new one with my husband. I still live in NYC but when I got married I moved from my shared apartment (with roomates) right near Lincoln Center, to Harlem (where the husband and I can afford a 1-br on our grad student stipends). I always say it's like being in the burbs because I now have to have my groceries delived via fresh-direct instead of popping into fairway on my way home (because the supermarkets in Harlem are disgusting) and there's not a single ANYTHING store in our neighborhood that I would ever shop in (even the Duane Reade here just isn't the same) – i.e. I basically "commute" to the NYC I know and love every day (even if it is just on the subway).

    You can't talk about the things you miss with single people – they think you have regrets, your marriage isn't working, etc. etc. (like how people respond to a lot of your posts) It's nice to know someone else is happier than they've ever been but still misses things about who they used to be.

  26. Spitzer's Corner is one of the best! Get there somewhat early for the donuts, as they are out of them by 11:30/12:00. Their popcorn is great, and will certainly go well with the variety of beer that they have on tap!

    Make sure to try to get a seat near the window, the best people watching EVER!

  27. Pork popcorn? What is that? (sorry if you've already answered this)

    Now I'm dying for an everything bagel with lox and cream cheese… (swoon) And dim sum. And a doughnut. Um, and a Dora cake. Can you tell I missed breakfast today?

    I love the second paragraph.. saying goodbye while saying hello. Loving what you have, but still loving what was. Beautiful.

  28. It's impossible to not want to slip back into your old life… because looking back– the memories are always much more glamorous. Sure, I miss my 'single' days and the time to put on makeup and some sassy attitude. I've traded that in for a house outside of NYC (where I was born and bred) with a husband and the cutest 2 year old you've ever seen.

    But, its hard to adapt to life as 'someone else'– somewhere else. So much of who we are is tied up in what we did, and how we expressed ourselves as single– and free. The obligations of being with someone, and being a mother to someone, sometimes feels like a heavy wool coat we're itching to shake. It was fun to have people look at me because I looked sexy. Now they look at me because of the toddler snot on my pants leg and my mess of hair tucked under a baseball hat.

    It's great to have those days– walking in NYC– absorbing the energy, the people and indulging in all the 'stuff' that makes us feel cosmopolitan, chic, 'in the know' and important. But at the end of those indulgent days, I can never get home quickly enough. The most important things in my life are always waiting for me at home– and that truly is the best place in the world– no matter what the zip code is.

    Enjoy your trip.


  29. All- check out the recent Atlantic Monthly article about "settling." It's written by a 40-yr old single mom, who throughout her 20's and 30's broke up with boyfriend after boyfriend because they weren't "perfect," had some flaw she felt she couldn't get over. Now she wishes she had a life companion, even if not as perfect as she had once held out for. For Lola and some others here, it might make for interesting reading. It's called, not ironically, "Marry Him," by Lori Gottleib.

  30. I love this post. Enjoy NYC. I'm in Philly suburbs and every time I go to Hoboken to visit my friends, I feel single again. It's odd – my fiance is at home and I feel single while I'm out with them in Hoboken or NYC. It's kind of a nice feeling though.

    I love NYC and envy your trip!

  31. gamma – it's like plucking or waxing, but instead they remove the hairs by winding them up between two pieces of cotton thread… it's hard to describe and even when you see it done, you still can't really understand how it works, but it does.

    Just curious – do you live in the burbs? I thought they must have that everywhere by know, but I guess not if Stephanie's holding out for a trip to NY to get it done

  32. Oh, I just love the girl trips. I am married with 3 amazing little boys – living the life I always dreamed I would have – but it is so nice to slip away for a few nights with my girls. The ones who only know me as me – not as "mom" or "wife" or any other label I've grown into. My girls who sit with me in a sloppy circle on the floor and enjoy a gargantuan plate of pasta with just the right amount of butter and parmesean cheese at 3am after a night of drinking and talking way too much. Restorative is what it is.

  33. If you are hankering for a new city – what about Boston? We're in the northeast, close to NYC and you don't have to walk circles around a pond!

  34. i love 'greens' advice. mail yourself a box, excellent advice.
    here's the funny part, i don't know you personally but from being a steady reader of you i think of you, new york and single too! oh… & another thing i think of YOU when i see mr. big, i mean since he did ask you out & all.
    have fun and cram a few donuts for me!

  35. i love 'greens' advice. mail yourself a box, excellent advice.
    here's the funny part, i don't know you personally but from being a steady reader of you i think of you, new york and single too! oh… & another thing i think of YOU when i see mr. big, i mean since he did ask you out & all.
    have fun and cram a few donuts for me!

  36. We have pork popcorn in Texas… it's called Pork Rinds or Pork Skins. I grew up here and think they are totally gross and I'm not even Jewish. Speaking of all things Jewish, we need a good bagel place in North Dallas or Collin County. My husband (originally from Detroit) complains about the awful bagels on a regular basis.

  37. Stephanie – I'll go check out the Aveda today.. Thank you for suggesting this and I noticed a few others on this board also agreed! :) Hope you're off to a fabulous start in NYC.

    Carissa, Carolina and Noisette – Thank you for responding, but I really wish I could email all three of you about what goes on in my current life situation.. would love to get your feedback.

    I really don't feel it would be fair to post certain things on this blog or go into further detail as it's Stephanie's blog and not mine.. I don't want to hog her page.

  38. Noisette: I just read the Lori Gottlieb article you recommended and quite frankly I find it toally appauling. Here's the link if anyone else wants to wade through it:


    Maybe I'd have liked/believed it a bit more if instead of using the term "settling" she suggested "reevaluate your the-man-i-want priorities". My God I really found this article to be sad! Like it was written just to kick up some dust.

    ALTHOUGH I do think it's true that in your 30's you really DO need to reevaluate your priorities–and should! Because then you're a bit more sure of who you are and what's important to you in terms of the people you like to spend time with. Like she said, there aren't too many John Cusak's hanging out at bars waiting to be picked up. So it may be a good idea to shorten/revise (not abandon!!) your checklist for Mr. Husband-to-be.

    Attributes like: kindness, sincerity, integrity, reliability, compatible sense of humour, compassion and attentiveness may be better to spend your life with in the long run, rather than, "he loves to go to rock shows as much as i do and he has a kickass tattoo."…or more likely (from my own list in my 20's): he writes me poems and brings me flowers and tells me how pretty I am everyday. Yeah, that stuff's nice but shouldn't be in your 'top ten list' of must haves in a man…those things don't have the longevity that the other attributes i mentioned do.

    I think that the article misses something big: maybe the divorce rate is what it is, and the number of couples in unsatisfying marriages is so great because: TOO MANY people settled and weren't aware of what's REALLY important in a their own personal definition of a life partner?

    The term settling, in itself, is bullshit.

  39. I agree with speechless – that Gottlieb piece is offensive and demeaning to women.

    I happen to be at the age where my friends are starting to divorce (well, some for the SECOND time) and at least anecdotally I can attest to the fact that the "settling" marriages are the first ones to break up.

    It's unfortunate, but human beings (especially men) are not genetically wired to mate for life. Marriage is a societal contruct and as such it takes a hell of a lot of work to stay in it for the long haul. Why would anyone stack the cards against themselves by settling?

  40. Beth-

    I live in the way, way out burbs-Great Falls, Montana to be exact. Not exactly a metropolis, but I love it just the same. Thanks for the definition!!


    Hope you're having a greta time in the city.

  41. SK – My own experience is that you will be glad when you get home to have your home and family to come to. The more I visited friends – even though I was glad to see them, and glad to "get away" – I found that I appreciated my own surrounding much more. I am not making any kind of class or societal choice here – some of my friends have more, some have less. I hope you find this to be true when you come back home to Austin. And, yes, I live somewhere that is not as chi-chi as my friends do…..

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