Saturday, August 18, 2012

I made this!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dementors and Other Excuses

My goal of blogging every week has had a bit of a set back. Last weekend I was out of town for a family event so, I put blogging on the back burner. Then I got home and things started to unravel in me. Things in general have been a little off, been feeling like I'm just not where I want to be and not quite sure how to get there. Then I  had one of those weeks where it feels like a Dementor is standing on my chest. I had been deluding myself about a relationship and last week I was disabused of that delusion. And it sucks. It really really sucks. There's been a lot of pain and panic. Thursday I had a "sick day" because I couldn't eat, couldn't breathe properly, couldn't think about anything for too long without getting dizzy. When the one person who knows you better than anyone else in the entire world decides that they don't want to see you anymore, it's hard not to let that destroy you. The worst part is that I'm the one who ruined the relationship in the first place. To feel like this, like small parts of me are dying and bloating and filling up all the spaces where things like air and food are supposed to go- to feel like this and know that the only person I have to scream at is myself, it's hard to figure out what to do with any of that. It's hard not to just let the Dementor have his way with me. My mind sometimes just goes there. And it's calming. Thinking about giving up, it's like imagining yourself on a beach somewhere that you never have to leave. It just easy... So, I just keep telling myself that I'm stronger than this. I keep telling myself that everything will be ok. I keep telling myself that there are people and things worth fighting for, that I am worth fighting for and I am more than what I feel right now. And I'm not always going to feel like this. And I'm going to keep telling myself all that until I start to believe some of it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

You too can be successful in only 10,000 hours!

When I worked at Borders The Tipping Point was one of those books that we always had in stock in abundance, and one that people were always looking for. We shelved it in the business section though, so I had no interest. I don't read those types of books; I'm a writer. I read novels, and poetry, and I dabble in history and science, and philosophy and...and well, anything BUT business books- or romance novels.

So, I judged The Tipping Point by the company it kept on the shelf, and its author as a result. But then I found myself in possession of this free copy of Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers, so I figured I might as well read it.

I was hooked from the first paragraph. It's an easy read, but an interesting one. Gladwell looks into the lives of select groups of successful people and shows how talent is really only where you start from. In order to be truly successful you need a combination of hard work and opportunity. Which is pretty much what our parents have been telling us our entire lives, isn't it? It never really sank in with me though.

I've had issues with hard work for pretty much my entire life. Any time something was difficult, instead of telling myself that I just need to keep working at it, I told myself that it was hard because I wasn't good enough, or smart enough. I'm not entirely sure where I picked that up, or if I made it up, but it has had a pretty powerful impact on my life. I gravitate towards the things that are are easy and shy away from challenges, even if, and maybe especially if, it is something that I really want to do. -I am trying to change that though.

Let's take, for example, the guitar that has been quietly judging me from the corner of my bedroom since my parents gave it to me for Christmas 4 years ago. I was excited when I first got it, I mean, I did ask for it. The problem is I wanted to play guitar; I didn't want to learn how to play guitar. I tried to teach myself a song (the aptly named "Please, please, please, let me get what I want this time") found it challenging, and decided that meant that I wasn't capable of mastering this instrument.

Look ma! Guitar hands! (see I HAVE been practicing!)

Outliers gives me hope though. According to Malcolm Gladwell all I have to do is log 10,000 hours of practice and I'll make this guitar my bitch. If I practice 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, I'll be performing at Carneige Hall by my 52nd birthday.

Enjoy the spotlight while you can, Esteban. In 20 years I'm coming for you!

So the moral of the story is A- Go ahead and judge a book by it's cover (there really are some truly terrible covers out there) but not by it's shelving. I'm reading The Tipping Point now and it's quite fascinating as well!

B- Practice, practice, practice and I'll see you at Carnegie Hall.

oh yeah, and C- Read Outliers and let me know what you think!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Raindrops on Roses and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Ever watch a movie or read a book and at first you're just so happy that this amazing thing exists in the world and then before long you find that you're pissed off that this amazing thing exists in the world and you didn't create it?

That's how I feel about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

I was a wary convert though.

ANOTHER Pride & Prejudice spin off/adaptation/retelling? Yeah, that's totally what the world needs.

As it turns out, yes, yes it is.

Every Monday and Thursday I am excited to come home from work to new episodes on YouTube. Which may say more about the quality of my social life than than the quality of the show but we're not talking about me today, people. Focus!

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries take the much beloved heroine of classic literature and gives her a vlog. This, in the wrong hands, could have gone horribly wrong. But the writing is fantastic and the casting was inspired. I mean, I actually like Lydia. Whaaaaaat?

I'm not going to bother reviewing it. I like it; I'm pretty sure you've figured that out already. So go watch it yourself. If you're an Austen fan, you're gonna love it. And if you're not a fan, this may just be the classic lit equivalent of hiding spinach in brownies. It has the core of what makes Austen wonderful, without the social mores of Georgian England that cause a lot of modern readers (my super intelligent BFF included) to roll their eyes and sell their copy back to the bookstore once the semester is over.

Seriously, just watch it already.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Somebody that I used to Know

I was cleaning the other day.

My version of cleaning is usually comprised of a lot of moving things around so that one area looks somewhat cleaner than it was before without anything ever really being put away or thrown out or in any way cleaned. This is 50% due to general laziness and 50% because I own a lot of crap and I never really know what to do with any of it. I’m not planning on playing host to the Hoarders crew anytime soon, but I do have a tendency to hold on to things because “I may want it someday” or because of some imagined or inflated sense of sentimental value.

One of my goals this year is to declutter my life, get rid of all this flotsam that is just taking up space and maybe get it somewhere to someone who would really want it, or need it.

So, as I was saying, I was cleaning the other day and I came across this little photo album that had just been shoved on a shelf in a stack of other useless things. It’s something you might find in a dollar store or the bargain aisles of Target. Almost every page is filled with photos from the production of “The Mystery of Edwin Drood” I was in during my junior year of high school. There were pictures my father took from the audience that make me look like I was the lead of the school play when really I was just another voice in the chorus. And there are backstage and cast party photos that I took.

Every time that I have looked at this album over the last ten plus years it has made me sad. When I was in high school I was fat and awkward and weird and desperate to be accepted by any and everyone. I so wanted to feel apart of something and I didn’t know how to get that, so I always seemed to end up taking pictures instead of being in them. Maybe believing that would somehow connect me to the people whose pictures I was taking. Maybe just to prove that I was there. All the kids that seemed cooler than me, better; the kids that I wanted to be friends with and be accepted by, they’re all in that horrible pink photo album. Most of the photos that I took were of people I barely knew or never talk to anymore.

I don’t even remember most of their names. What I do remember though is how I felt. Awkward. Unlikeable. Unworthy. Less Than. All those high school feelings come rushing up around me every time I look at the stupid thing. And for the first time I asked myself a question that should have come up years ago. Why do I keep looking at the damn thing? Why do I still own it?

I’ve been holding on to someone who never really existed. That girl that I was in high school, that’s not me, that’s just who I let myself be, believing that my weight made me unworthy and my weirdness made me unloveable and my talents weren’t good enough. All Lies.

I can now appreciate that being awkward and weird in high school led me on a path to my many awkward and weird friends. I am thankful for not being exactly who I wanted to be because that helped me get to be the person I want to be. Even though it really really sucked at the time.

I do have pictures from high school that I look at and I smile. This photo album though is nothing but bad mojo. It’s like a little ugly siren trying to pull me back into the pit of adolescent angst. Which brings me back to that question. 

Why do I look at it? 

Because there is still a part of me holding onto who I used to be as an excuse to hold myself back. Because that 15 year old still lives in side me, still whispering that I’m ugly and fat and just not at all good enough. Well, she can go fuck herself I’m throwing that album out. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I signed up for a CSA this year.  It’s something I had been thinking about for a while but the large lump sum payment they require upfront always left me a little gun shy.

It is a bit of an investment, isn’t it? And a bit of a gamble too. Although, wait, that’s redundant isn’t it? Investment implies risk. Right?

goodies from week one

What I’m saying is that it is easy to get put off by the idea of a CSA. You have to plunk down what can sometimes be upwards of $500 and you’re not guaranteed a thing. What if it doesn’t rain enough? What if it rains too much? What if these hippies are just really bad farmers?!

I know, I know, it’s hard to trust people sometimes. But if you open your heart to the possibilities life wants to offer you may just fall in love with a Japanese salad turnip.

Seriously though, they’re really freaking good. Have you had one of these things? I got a bunch in my first box from my CSA with Golden Earthworm Organic Farm. They’re delightful.

I’m only two weeks into my first ever CSA so it may be a bit early to be evangelizing but I really do feel like standing on a street corner. If only I could find my soap box. I know I left it around here somewhere…
week two loot

Every Tuesday is like Christmas. I go to my pick-up site with my reusable shopping bag and I fill it up with goodies.

One of the things that has struck me the most is the dirt. The produce we get at the supermarket is so polished and pristine it’s easy to forget that it came from the ground. Shoppers today want perfect food. If there is a bit of dirt, or if the tomato isn’t perfectly round or that perfect shade of red, it doesn’t get sold. This may sound weird but there’s something kind of comforting about finding a dusting of dirt on my Swiss chard.

Swiss chard and collards 
Signing up for a CSA is also a great way to lose weight. You want to get healthy you need to eat healthy; which means veggies, veggies veggies! Sure, you can go to Costco and get 47 lbs of frozen vegetables for less money but then those vegetables will probably wind up stuffed in the back of your freezer for four weeks before you decide to defrost a scoop to go with your bacon cheeseburger. CSA vegetables won’t keep so you are forced to eat lots of veggies right now. And once you finish them well it’s time to go get your next box! VEGGIES FOREVER!

I am having so much fun with my CSA so far. Opening a box and pulling out something I’ve never cooked with, possibly never even eaten before, pushes me out of my comfort zone a little bit and forces me to explore and be creative. I doubt that I would have ever purchased rhubarb at a supermarket. Or butter lettuce. Isn’t lettuce just lettuce? No, not it is not.

my too much sugar and not enough time rhubarb oat bars
Rhubarb is something I’d only ever heard of on TV. It is a perplexing pink stalk that apparently makes good pie. I split my share with my cousin so I was pretty sure I didn’t have enough rhubarb for pie but I found this recipe online and made some pretty tasty treats (though, if I were ever to make it again I would cut the sugar in half. And I would cook down the syrup a lot more than I did. Impatience has no place in baking, young grasshopper. My bars never quite solidified, but they were yummy).

garlic scapes, just minutes before I murdered them

The thing I was most excited about from week two were garlic scapes. They’re the tops of the garlic clove. Who knew garlic had tops? My farm’s web sites has lots of recipes for their crops and I found a simple one for roasted garlic scapes. Which sounded like heaven since roasted garlic is one of my favorite things on earth. I should have checked on them while roasting though because 30 mins at 425 turned out to be way too long and I wound up with mostly burned scapes. I’m still in mourning and am hoping I find the strength to move on. “Sorry, I can’t come into work today, I burned the garlic scapes and I need time to heal.” Any chance that’ll fly with my supervisor?

But today is Tuesday. And that means that I get to open a new box and it’s Christmas all over again!

Monday, June 4, 2012

I'm so lazy I'm not even going to bother coming up with a title

The day started off well. I went to the gym. I did some laundry and went to the grocery store and baked rhubarb oat bars with the rhubarb from last week’s CSA box. Then I sat down to watch maybe 20 mins of TV while I ate lunch, just relax a little before getting to work on everything else. Just Like Heaven was on. I’d never seen it, I like Mark Ruffalo, I figured I could stand half an hour of it. Four hours later I was still on the couch. That’s where I’m writing from now, actually.

I did have a plan for what I was going to blog about today. But it never got past the planning stage to research and development as I had been swallowed by a romantic comedy vortex. And they weren’t even particularly good romantic comedies. I sacrificed my day to the god of mediocre romance. Not exactly who I planning on worshiping.

It is Sunday though, so I have decided to cut myself some slack. I mean, I did go to the gym where I took a teeny tiny little baby step towards my goals of running a 5k (I can do 5k no prob, it’s the running part that’s going to take a bit of work) and doing a pull up (I am so far from that it’s not even on the horizon, but at least I’m moving forward). I also tried a new recipe today. And I AM blogging. Yeah, maybe this is filler and not what I had planned to post, but it is something to post. And really that’s the only requirement.

Plus, I was out late last night at a Jonathan Coulton concert so if you think about it I actually did pretty well for myself- that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I didn’t show up with much this week, but I showed up.

And the rhubarb oat bars are delicious.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thirty-one is the new thirty

Crawling my way up from 10 years old to 20 took forever, every year felt sooooooooo long, as if I was 15 for 100 years and it was always winter and never Christmas and White Walkers were lurking around every corner (Narnia/Game of Thrones cross over anyone?). I thought twenty was never going to get here. I thought I was always going to be an awkward child, forever longing for that mythical land of my twenties where I would be free and I would know who I was and I would walk through life with confidence and grace and look back and laugh at the pitiful little creature I used to be. And then, finally, I was twenty. But goddamnit I blinked my eyes and now I’m 31. What. The. Fuck.

My twenties, the glorious romp through self discovery where you learn to become the beautiful butterfly you always knew you would be? Yeah, that lasted about a minute.

I squandered my twenties. Sure there were times where I was being all that I could be; backpacking through Australia, skydiving in Vegas…but sometime around 25 things started to change and I started to feel stuck. I took a retail job after graduation “while I was figuring things out” and it took me 5 years fight my way free. The pay is shit, the work is miserable and before you know it you start feeling like you’re not qualified to do anything else. Especially if that fancy college degree that was supposed to set you up for life- was a BA in English Lit. So, instead of traveling and experimenting and having wild and crazy times that destroyed my credit history and left me with interesting scars- I was living in my parent’s basement and fretting about finding a “real job” so I could pay off my car loan and move out and maybe have a buck or two left over for my piggy bank.

It is sadly appropriate that I’m writing about squandering time today since I spent the entire day on the couch. (What? Band of Brothers marathon on Memorial Day, it would have been unpatriotic to turn off the TV. ) But I am working on it. After spending this past year mourning my lost youth I decided it was time to snap out of it. I’m 31; my life isn’t exactly over yet. It’s not even half time. And there’s still so many things I want to do. And I’m tired of saying that I’ll get to them someday. Screw, that, I’ll get to them now.

There will be no grieving this year, no excuses. This year I have set 31 goals and challenges for myself to celebrate turning 31 and to kick off my thirties the way I should have last year.

One of these goals: blog every week. Seriously, $15 a year for this domain name I need to stop dithering.  So, every week, I’ll be here. It may not be good, it may not be much, but it’ll be something. I’m posting the rest of my challenges/goals in the "Thirty-one things" tab up top and I’ll be blogging and vlogging about my progress, so wish me luck and stay tuned.

Happy Memorial Day! (watch Band of Brothers)

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's so easy to laugh, it's so easy to hate...

I don’t want to talk about Tyler Clementi’s suicide, at least not exclusively, or, not as the main focus.

This all could have gone differently. If Clementi had been in a slightly better place, if he had a better support system or had been better equipped to handle the situation, or had a better sense of self worth he might still be with us and the story of the roommate who spied on him would have become one of those crazy roommate stories we tell at parties, always sure that our freshman year roommate was the craziest.  The pendulum could have even swung to the other side completely and this could have become the incident that changed Tyler’s life making him stronger and catapulting him into a life of helping other gay teens stand up for themselves and realize that “it gets better”. We hear those stories all the time. I don’t want to talk about Tyler Clementi’s suicide because even if he hadn’t killed himself he would still deserve justice.

It breaks my heart that Tyler Clementi killed himself but as much as the incident with the web cam may (or may not, I didn’t know him so I really can't say for sure) have been the catalyst for his suicide, as someone who has been battling depression for years, I know that it takes more than one douchebag to make you decide that life is not worth living. I do not hold Dharun Ravi solely responsible for Tyler’s death but people need to understand that their actions have consequences.

The true crime here isn’t one of intent. I do not think that Dharun was trying to lead Tyler to harm himself, in fact, I don’t even think he really meant to hurt Tyler at all. The crime here is that Dharun was so consumed by ignorance and fear that he didn’t really see Tyler as a person at all. He didn’t understand Tyler and his ignorance and confusion spawned fear that kept him from seeing Tyler as a person who had feelings that could be hurt, a person who deserved the same respect that Dharun would have expected for himself. The crime here is that because Tyler was different, because he was gay, Dharun saw him as an object that he could experiment on, as a toy he could play with and share with his friends.

I’m not making excuses for Dharun, just because I believe that he was acting out of fear doesn’t mean that I believe that he should get a pass. From all accounts he is an intelligent kid, he’s just not a very nice one. I’m afraid almost every day of my life, that doesn’t mean that I go around punching people in the face. I know better, and somewhere under the fear, Dharun knew better too.

I’d like to believe that if Tyler Clementi were alive Dharun Ravi would still be facing charges. But maybe it all just would have been swept under the rug. Probably. It’s easier for a university to make unflattering stories go away when there isn’t a body. Suicide makes for a better story than bullying. If he had lived Tyler Clementi would be a victim, now he’s a martyr. Now he’s someone to rally behind, to set up charities in honor of and write blogs and articles in the New Yorker about.

I wish Tyler had felt that his life was worth saving and that he had reached out to someone instead of jumping. I wish that he had gotten a new roommate and made new friends and fallen in love and one day brought grandchildren home to his parents. I wish that he had lived long enough to change his major a couple of times and I wish that I could have heard him play his violin. But mostly I wish that he hadn’t died because neither he nor his roommate knew quite how to deal with the fact that he was gay.

I’m not one for legislating thoughts. You want to believe that homosexuals are deviant perverted people with a diabolical agenda? Fine. Just as long as you believe that they are people. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Coming late to the Revolution

My new year didn’t start at quite as I hoped it would. New Year’s Eve was a rollercoaster, followed by a hang over and a week and half long sickness that caused me to cancel a mini break that I had been looking forward to for quite a while.

But my sinuses are no longer struggling to see which can fracture my skull first so things are looking up and it’s about time I stopped wallowing and started making something of 2012. So, I’ve joined the revolution.

I have been watching Rosianna complete Channel 4’s challenges with more than a little bit of envy for the past 14 days before it occurred to me that I didn’t have to be envious. So what if I don’t live in Britain and watch Channel 4? The internet doesn’t discriminate (or at least has no way of knowing that my gmail account isn’t located in the United Kingdom)!

I need something to shake me a bit, get me out of myself and my fear and general malaise and laziness. So this is me joining the revolution!

Day 15: Watch a Classic Movie that you’ve never seen

Which meant that I now had validation for sitting on the couch. “I’m not being lazy I’m being part of the revolution! No, really! Could you get me some chips?”

I read A Clockwork Orange in college but I’d never seen the movie, until now. It is brilliant and disturbing and heart wrenching and did I mention that it was disturbing? I’m not going to write about it in depth because the film has been around for 40 years and I’m sure it has been dissected and analyzed to death by now. And I’m not a film critic. And I just don’t feel like it.

What I do feel like is getting some strawberries and watching the bits of the Golden Globes that have Ricky Gervais in them.

I’ll be back tomorrow for the next challenge.

Viva La Revolution!