The Fiscally Sound Older Sister

One thing they never tell you in film school -- and to be fair, how could they know for sure -- is how long it'll be until your Very Encouraging Loved Ones withdraw their fiscal support. It's a slow burn, in my experience, with the sting of a misguided Legal Secretary Job Referral here or the slap of a Temp Service Classified Ad there. Around the first of the month, when the rent's due, it's time to lay the whole ugly mess on the table and gut your failed life plan like a fish. You're usually too mired in one of the Five Stages Of Grief -- I like denial, though depression also works -- to get much out of it other than a free seafood dinner.

My sister sends me an e-mail today about Amy Sedaris's Smokey Cheese Ball business, implying that every creative type has to find a viable means of support that doesn't involve my sister. This is how Amy makes it between gigs, she claims, mixing the cheese balls by hand in her apartment.

I read on her fansite that Amy Sedaris has a feature film in post-production based on her sitcom Strangers With Candy -- and I can't picture her running home from the set to grate walnuts. I am a Formerly Successful Ex-Reporter, after all, so I poke around on the Internet and learn that Amy does in fact sell cheese balls, as well as cupcakes, during intermission at her plays. She even wrote one about an Amish woman who supports an entire community by way of the family cheese ball business. Amy herself is only in it for the fun, for something to talk about on Letterman -- except during the holidays, when she tosses a few to the fans in a New York shop called the Gourmet Garage.

Sharing this with my sister would only prove that I'm avoiding finding something, anything, to do with my own talents. She recently read, for example, that David Sedaris, Amy's brother, spent many years working for a maid service in New York, and that he enjoyed it very much. Her tone implies that doing a lot of vacuuming is the one true path to becoming the nation's top satirist, and I'm a fool not to give it a whirl. "You could start your own service," she says. "You wouldn't have to work for Merry Maids."

None of this seems likely, since I haven't cleaned my own house in weeks, and I just caught my wiener dog Oscar snacking on something he's found inside a dust bunny. The cupcake and cheese ball thing wouldn't work, either, since A) it's been done to death, and B) my wiener dog Vienna becomes terrified when I so much as turn on the oven -- some weird, Pavlovian response to the smoke alarm.

Besides, Nancy Grace is coming on and I really need to concentrate on my inexplicable fascination with the Natalee Holloway drama. Try as I may, I can't think of a better name for a CourtTV villain than Joran Van Der Sloot. The best part is how the pundits can't seem to get the pronunciation quite right; I'm hearing everything from "Joe Ran," to "Yo, Ron!," to my personal favorite, the unapologetic "Urine," courtesy of Natalee's dead calm mother.

I don't review the matter with my sister, since she has a job and all, and I don't want to explain how this and the Missing Cruise Ship Groom are about all I've got today. The real truth is, My Very Supportive Manager hasn't returned my calls in a week, and I like to think she's having some horrible personal crisis -- an untimely death in the family, say, a missing teen of her own or a mysterious boating accident off the coast of Turkey -- than entertain the idea that she can't really help me right now herself.

The good news is my sister sent along the cheese ball recipe in an e-mail entitled "Told You." She always does, bless her heart.

Amy Sedaris's Li'l Smokey Cheese Balls
Yield: 10 servings

2 cups shredded smoked Gouda or smoked Cheddar
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
2 or 3 teaspoons milk
2 tablespoons A-1 steak sauce
About 1/2 cup crushed walnuts
Buttery crackers (such as Ritz)

Let ingredients come to room temperature. Blend together cheeses, butter, milk and steak sauce. Refrigerate until firm, then shape into a ball. Roll in crushed walnuts. Return to refrigerator. To serve, bring to room temperature; serve with crackers.

PER SERVING: 378 calories; 36g fat (86 percent calories from fat); 21g saturated fat; 98mg cholesterol; 10.5g protein; 3g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 0.5g fiber; 332mg sodium; 209mg calcium; 107mg potassium.


  1. I'm still amazed you're getting financial support.

  2. I have some great ideas :) Nevermind. Next time.

  3. Anything with gouda is gooda!

  4. (I thought your screen name was "Broke Jennifer." And I was like, oh no, what happened luvvy? hahaha)