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how many times have you wished your sober self could tell your drunk self to behave? that you’ll regret this tomorrow? that maybe you should quit while you’re ahead, that you don’t need that last drink, nor do you need to take the random guy you just met at the bar home with you.

i swear to god, sometimes i need sober glasses to put over my drunk eyes. because here’s the thing about one night stands. in the moment, they seem great. the alcohol hits your bloodstream, and there’s a moment where everything starts to sparkle. you feel more hopeful, like life might just break you off a piece of good luck and serve it to you on a silver platter. so you do things you normally wouldn’t do sober. you strike up a conversation with a guy at a bar and you speak of nonsensical things and sensical things, like where you went to college and what you’re doing with perfectly blown-out hair and glitter caked into the corner of your eyes.

and everything seems rosy, tinted with sunshine even though it’s past midnight, and you decide that you don’t want to be alone in your bed, and you don’t much care who shares it with you. so you grab the one you’ve been talking to and words are exchanged, but it’s not so much the words that matter as the looks, and it’s decided: he’ll come with you. and for a moment, you feel lighter than air, like you’ve been chosen, like maybe your drunken one night stand will result in a lifetime of happiness, in a man who puts a ring on your finger and makes you chocolate chip pancakes on sunday mornings while you curl your fingers around a steaming mug of coffee and take it all in.

because that’s the thing about bringing a guy home: in the moment, it feels wonderful. you feel pretty. you thank yourself for choosing to wear heels, for applying extra eyeliner, for smiling and laughing and talking and remembering to suck in your stomach. and you kiss in the cab and you watch the cabbie watching you and you think to yourself, ‘this is what it means to be young’ and you praise yourself for your recklessness, because you’re not a reckless person. you tell yourself you’re just having fun, just like everyone else, and everyone’s always telling you that you could stand to have a bit more fun.

and then you’re putting your key in the lock and you’re in bed and you’ve stripped off your clothes and it’s dark and you’re glad for the lack of light because you hate this part –  the part where it gets personal and you can’t hide behind anything. and you curse him for throwing off the covers and really looking at you, because you’re not sure you’re ready for that. and so you get it done and you offer him a glass of water and you fall into a dreamless sleep, and in the morning, things are the same, but different.

your hair no longer looks pretty, but messy, knotted and twisted and uneven, all smushed on one side. your eye makeup is smudged and you realize you forgot to brush your teeth, and it’s too hot under the covers but too cold in your room and how did you get here? and your head pounds and you look at the one sleeping next to you and you realize he’s not going to be your anything. he doesn’t care about you, doesn’t want to know about what you want out of life or how you take your coffee or the fact that you hate the feel of itchy wool sweaters and despise big slobbery dogs that smell like wet garbage. and you curse yourself for doing this yet again, because even if it’s only been a handful of times in your life, you’ve done it enough to know you never enjoy it the next morning. and you try and counsel yourself: this was fun, you were fun, it’s good to be fun. but in the harsh clouds of early morning, it’s no longer fun.

it’s funny, yes, when he rolls over and opts for, “want to have sex again before i leave?” instead of good morning. but it’s not fun. and suddenly all you want is to be old and wrinkled and sitting in a rocking adirondack chair on an oversized porch alongside someone who’s been at your side for years. and you’re seized by the terrible fear that the life you dream of for yourself, the one with which you sing yourself to sleep, might never be yours. and then, you can’t be alone fast enough. so you go through the motions and you nod as he says he has to get home, he’s having furniture delivered, and you smile and giggle at all the right moments as he tells you his hurricane sandy horror story, and how he’s finally found a new apartment, and you realize he’s balding slightly and he’s not the one who wants to make pancakes with you on a sunday morning, and all you want is for him to leave.

and after all that, the next day? the next day you go back to life. you fall in love with strangers on the subway, and you stand in line at starbucks and you fight to cut a swath down the busy city streets, and you think to yourself, is this it? is this what it’s going to be? and the thought of that horrifies you, that this could be it. and so you find yourself on a crowded street in one of the most populous cities in the world feeling utterly alone, and you tell yourself, never again.

that is, until next time.

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beets are one of those things i used to wrinkle my nose at. kind of the way kids feel about things like cabbage and brussel sprouts. you know, like this, “ewwwww. you expect me to eat that? GUH-ROSS, MOM!” i think i’ve mentioned before that as a youngin’, i wasn’t much for adventurous eating. things with odd textures, odd colors, and odd tastes just weren’t for me. this list included, at one time or another, mushrooms, onions, and red meat – as well as the aforementioned brussel sprouts, cabbage and beets.

let me tell you a funny story. the summer before i entered my freshman year of high school, my family, along with one of my oldest and bestest friends, kim, spent two weeks in france. we did a week in an apartment in paris that was full of crinkly wallpaper and aged herringbone wood floors and the kind of crown moulding that makes me cry with joy. of course, as a teenager, i didn’t appreciate the architectural details of the space; i had yet to develop a taste for interior design.

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this isn’t where we stayed. this is designer erin fetherston’s paris apartment – but it reminds me of the one we rented.

i also had yet to develop an adventurous taste for food, or really, a taste for food at all. my parents, who have always been amateur foodies themselves, love a good french delicacy – but me, at fourteen? not so much. escargot? you think just ’cause you’re dressing those babies up in a nice name i’m going to want to eat snails? AS IF. duck? no thanks. i don’t really like eating things that i’ve seen waddling around the pond in my hometown’s college campus. i wrinkled my nose so much in paris, it’s a wonder it didn’t get stuck like that.

since i didn’t want to eat any of the fancy food served in parisian restaurants, i subsisted on a lot of bread and cheese during that trip – you know, stuff i could pronounce, without funky textures or weird names. but one day, strolling through a french farmer’s market, we came across the most delectably beautiful stand of fresh strawberries. you can’t imagine the glee i felt – something i could (and would) eat! i picked up a pint right then and there, and continued to peruse the market, biting off the heads of one juicy strawberry after another, sticking the tops in the lid of my plastic container.

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the barrel into which my strawberries went tumbling looked like this, except bigger.

as would be the fate of a picky fourteen year old, a few paces later, i managed to accidentally spill my entire pint of strawberries, bitten off heads and all, into a giant vat of fresh paprika. i should tell you right now that i don’t speak a word of french, and at fourteen, i was beyond awkward, totally shy, and had trouble stringing sentences together in english, let alone in another language. my parents did the dirty work of apologizing profusely, while i attempted to pick my strawberries out of the bin (my hand was immediately swatted away – clearly in hoping to remedy the situation, i just made it worse). there are few times in my adult life that have rivaled this experience in terms of embarrassment factor. suffice it to say, we didn’t return to that part of the market ever again.

the moral of the story? it would do me well to be a bit more adventurous in my eating. which is why i’m proud of this recipe, in which i took one of my formerly despised foods and transplanted into a food i love: pasta.

i’m pretty happy with the result, which was creamy and delicious and also, HOT PINK. i mean, what’s not to love about hot pink pasta? NOTHING, if you ask me. basically, i got these ENORMOUS beets at the farmer’s market on saturday, and in lieu of taking the traditional route and putting them into a salad, i decided i’d turn that salad into a pasta.

beets’ sweetness is extremely well complimented by the creaminess of goat cheese, and whatdya know, i’d picked up some fresh garlic and black pepper infused chevre at the market as well! so i roasted my beets, then tossed them with goat cheese, a little pasta water, some fresh italian parsley, and lemon juice. and you know what? hot pink pasta is YUMMY. Image

so, let’s go forth and make it, shall we?

The Recipe

1 oversized beet (seriously, mine was enormous) or a few small beets

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1 box of fusili or penne

3/4 cup goat cheese (if you can find herbed or flavored, go for it)

2 tbsp fresh italian parsley, diced and sliced

to make, roast your beet(s) in a 425 degree oven. you’ll want to drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and then wrap them in aluminum foil. then, place them on a baking sheet or in a pan (i stuck mine in a glass bread pan) and stick ’em in there. cook for anywhere from 25 minutes to an hour. mine took a while because they were so huge, but smaller ones will take closer to the 25 minute mark. they’re done when you can easily piece the skin with a fork.

once your beets have cooked, remove them from the oven, and let them cool a bit. you need to peel the skins off, and you don’t want to burn yourself doing so. while you’re waiting for them to cool, put your pasta water on to boil, and zest and juice your lemon. set both the juice and zest aside. now, chop up your parsley. regular parsley would be fine here, but italian parsley is best. mint would also be delish!

once your water boils, dump your pasta in and add a bit of olive oil into the pot. stir and set your timer according to the directions on the box. now, peel your beets and chop them up into chunks. a bit bigger than bite size is perfect.

when your pasta finishes cooking, drain and reserve a bit of pasta water. put the pasta back into the pot, and add your goat cheese, beets and lemon juice. stir until the cheese has melted into a creamy sauce. if you need, add some water or white wine to thin the sauce out a bit more. dole pasta out into bowls and top with parsley and lemon zest.

there you go, folks. hot pink beetalicious pasta!