I’m behind on EVERYTHING

So you guys, I know I’m way way behind on stuff.

I’m planning on writing some fun, in detail trip reports for my week in California, I hope to get to them soon. (I’m still adjusting to East Coast Time, and I’m VERY BUSY at work getting caught up.)

But here are some highlights:

  1. I am wildly in love with the city of San Francisco. It’s my favorite city I’ve ever visited. I’ll detail why, but it’s so beautiful, and I don’t think I encountered one grumpy customer service person!
  2. You all don’t know this about me, since I changed before I started writing this blog, but I used to pretty much only drink Chardonnay and Miller Lite and the occasional margarita. After a while I just stopped drinking Chardonnay. BUT I REDISCOVERED IT THIS PAST WEEK AND I LOVE IT VERY MUCH.
  3. 10 days of togetherness and wine drinking would have at one point driven my siblings and I to murder. Now we just had a lovely trip. Growth!
  4. I have a fun new hobby where Mary and I pose like we’re on the cover of Vanity Fair as a joke, and some of those pictures actually turned out cool!

So those are coming! As are book reviews. (Though I barely read on this trip! Too much wine!) And more Supernatural. And hey, Captain Marvel comes out this weekend, that one snuck up on us, huh? And Winter Is Coming one last time, so we’ll have winners to track. And an ultimate winner. (I promise not to cop out and insist that we’re the real winners for having been given the blessing of Game Of Thrones…) There’s a few new projects to breakdown and start.

Seriously, with what may be the final movie season, my renewed interest in my own literacy, an unrelated project and finally, finally cracking the creative code on that family memoir I’ve always wanted to write, plus this blog just changing shape as I change as a person. (I went back and read some old posts, it’s a cool thing to do. What I’ve learned? I’m much much better about vocalizing anger than I used to be.)

 

 

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2019 Monthly Resolutions: January: I’m Quitting Takeout

Hey Everyone! We made it through a month of 2019! Hooray!

So I’ve made a few broader resolutions this year (See below), but I’ve also decided I’m going to do monthly “habit making or breaking” resolutions, that will just improve my life incrementally. I started in January with quitting takeout.

Since moving out of my parents’ and living by myself, I’ve become increasingly dependent on takeout for my meals. I’m not talking about Friday or Saturday nights ordering a pizza or whatever, I’m talking two or three times a week.

It’s not a good habit to be in. It’s nutritionally questionable and definitely expensive. (One weekly tip to the grocery store is half what I was spending in takeout.) So I spent the month eating more healthfully, and creatively and spending less cash! Hooray!

It also helped me up my cooking game significantly. I’d improved a lot over the past year, but relied far too much on crock pot cooking, which required more energy and organization than I can often give. Just getting my basics down was massive for me. I can now tastily sautee chicken breasts quickly. I’ve burned rice a few times so always got nervous making it, but thanks Instant Pot, that one’s a snap now too.

Pan searing steaks is a regular thing I do now, baking pastas, and here’s the one that was really hard though. On Sunday, as I got ready for Rent: Live I was nervous. Mary and I have a tradition of Chinese food and wine as we watch these things, even when we’re on the other side of the country from one another.

I’d tried a crock pot General Tso’s Chicken a few times, and since I now have rice down (yay!) I wasn’t too worried about my main course, but the best part of Chinese Takeout is often the appetizers. Scanning my America’s Test Kitchen cook book, I landed on doing Scallion Pancakes. If I’m honest, I rarely, if ever, uses the Test Kitchen recipes. They’re often complicated and require equipment/space that I don’t have access too. I use the book for ideas and then head to Pinterest for a simpler recipe. I botched the first two, but made 3 excellent scallion pancakes. I also bought some frozen crab rangoon from the grocery store.

Moving forward, I’m still going to avoid takeout when I’m by myself. It’s always too much food to make the delivery minimums and not being able to split means I eat too much. Also, I’ll probably stick to pizza and Indian food. I have an OK chicken korma recipe, but it always comes out too sweet, and no storebought naan is as good as a restaurants. And a lack of a good real oven makes homemade pizza a non starter. Also sushi. For obvious reasons.

But having quick go to’s in the kitchen (Pantry meals, I believe they’re called) will reduce my need for takeout as well. I can make chicken and rice and a salad in the same amount of time I’m waiting for dinner to be delivered. So why spend the money/calories, ya know?

February’s resolution is to quit phone games. This is easy in execution. I’m deleting the aps from my phone. What I’m hoping to get out of it is reaching for more effective ways to spend my time. Writing, reading, continuing to learn to cook, etc. We’ll see how it goes.

Broader Resolutions And Check Ins: (I’ll be checking in on how the previous months resolution has carried over into my life moving forward here

  • Broader Resolution 1: Take Advantage of My Town – I’ve gone out a few nights and enjoyed the library more. I’ve also started going to mass and brunch! But frankly, my Grandpa’s hospitalization and funeral screwed up my rhythm here. Hoping to do better/have fewer relatives die in February. (I make no promises)
  • Broader Resolution 2: Read More! (But Fewer White Guys) – I read 6 books! 0.5 were written by white dudes! (Crisis was written by a white dude, but drawn by a Hispanic dude 0.5!) HOORAY!
  •  Broader Resolution 3: Exercise 5 Times A Week – HAHAHHAHAHAHA….yeah, this didn’t happen at all…

60 Books In 2019 #4: The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker

My grandpa, Grampy, we called him, passed away this weekend. Which means I’ll always remember The Golem And The Jinni, which I kept thinking, “he’d have loved this book,” as I read through it.

“It was a fine day that we came to this country,” was a favorite saying of Grampy’s, he’d affect a brogue, an accent that never quite suited him the way his natural Manhattan flat vowels and nasally tones did. But he was right, of course. America has been unfathomably good to our family, and frankly, to our people. My background is primarily New York Irish, (not to be confused with Boston or Chicago Irish, the culture is a bit different.) with smatterings of German, British and Jewish.

The children of immigrants, yearning always for both America and home. And The Golem And The Jinni is about that, and so much more. A Golem, a being of clay, created by Jewish mysticism, and Jinni, a demon of fire, from the deserts of Syria, find themselves in the great city of immigrants, New York, and find each other.

This is a wonderful book. It’s the closest I’ve seen to American Magical realism in a while. (I always hold up Shoeless Joe and it’s adaptation Field Of Dreams as the best examples.) Chava, the golem, and Ahmad, the Jinni, are magical beings in the very real Manhattan of the 1890’s, Chava making her way as a baker in the Jewish community of the Lower East Side, taken in by a kind retired rabbi and his activist nephew, Ahmad working as a silversmith in the Syrian community, lost in a time and place he finds exasperating and stifling.

In the end both realize there is a great deal of the old that needs to be given up, to make a new home, the knowledge forgone, but the worthwhileness of the new place, freed from old bounds.

It was a fine day we came to this country. Home should never be forgotten though, and I’m grateful to have family that’s centered so much of who we are around that connection to home.

Anyway, this book is awesome.

Up next is Circe by Madeline Miller. I know it was like the book in 2018, so I’m only a little behind on this one. (Seriously, y’all, I’m trying.)

Time To Get Personal: Body stuff (AGAIN)

I’ve written in the past about my body image issues and how they’re kind of difficult for me to navigate and my since puberty and kind of before even weight and fitness yo-yo-ing has been tough for me.

I had a major keeping control of my body victory last year when I ran my half marathon. I was so proud of myself. The problem was I didn’t sustain it. This was for very good reasons. (They were only OK reasons) but I quickly found, that with my depression and comfort eating, the [redacted] (numbers aren’t the point for anyone who isn’t me and my doctor) pounds I lost came rushing back, along with [redacted] more.

I was officially the heaviest I’d been in my life, wearing a clothing size I swore I never would, and generally unhappy about the food habits I’d developed. This was for both health and financial reasons. I’d become a “takeout every night” person, which is both BAD FOR YOU and EXPENSIVE.

I was frustrated, and as the cloud of depression lifted, I realized that I needed to get back on the horse. I didn’t want to go back to the “training for a big race and on Weight Watchers” days, but changes needed to happen.

I put my fit bit back on, I began paying close attention to what food I was putting in my body. (And cooking! So much cooking!) And suddenly I found something had changed in me.

I didn’t like sitting around and not moving, it made me anxious. I was craving fresh raw veggies as I walked in the door rather than starch and fat. I was saying “oh no thank you,” when servers asked if I wanted to see a desert menu. And it wasn’t even a struggle, I just really for the most part wasn’t interested in whatever brownie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream was up for grabs.

When something was too sweet I bristled at it, starting to prefer salty and savory flavors, that mixed well with veggies and chicken.

What was happening to me?

Well, I guess I’m getting more healthy. This is good, for the most part but also kind of odd. Even just this past Monday, when after a weekend at the shore, I knew it would be a takeout night, mostly because my apartment was actually 100 degrees due to four days of shut up with no AC, I decided to order some fresh healthy sushi rather than pizza. (I did wind up with pizza last night, again, because too hot to cook…)

I have a clear goal in mind. Mary and Joe are engaged (YAY!) and I’ve decided that I’m not going to have to pay the extra $50 for a plus size bridesmaid dress, as I’ve had to each other time I was a bridesmaid. Granted, these dresses run small and consider double digits a plus size, but it’s a completely achievable goal, based on how I’ve been doing lately.

But mostly I’m just really psyched that I’ve turned a corner in my habits. It’s been a long road to get here, and I still treat myself occasionally, but this is a big deal.

I’ve got a year to go and a good amount of road to travel but it doesn’t feel impossible. YAY!