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why do we even live in South Florida anymore?

(sidenote: why does September always run by so damned quickly?)

The fall always gets away from me, as it does most teachers, and I found myself last weekend on a trip that I’d barely had time to look forward to.  But it mattered not.  I went with my two best friends to Portland, we saw concerts and went to free art museums and ate so much delicious food and went hiking and saw waterfalls and visited Pumpkin Funland! and saw other friends, all of whom have roots in South Florida, and have since become at least temporary Pacific Northwesterners.  And took a hot air balloon ride.  Excellence indeed.

Also will happen this month: I will turn 30.  The trip was taken in part to commemorate that.  And T-storm and I have been thinking, a lot, lately about our living situation.  One of his two best friends, who often takes his bad decisions and projects them on other people, has informed T-storm that we really should buy a house sometime soon.  Because, you know, prices have bottomed out.

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The summer of only two pots

So now that I’m still technically a newlywed, I am also a grad student living and studying remotely.  And of course I should be in the process of writing two papers right now, but alas.  That will come.  Finish laundry and then off to the library.  In the meantime!

I love my program, and I’m here with some truly outstanding people, but there’s a certain sense of disconnect in some ways.  I miss my husband terribly.  I miss our cats.  I realize how grateful I am for my typical life, although I don’t always realize how terribly awesome it really is.  I will be sad to leave this terrific summer, and there are people I’ll pretty much never see again, which sucks, but I will return home with a new sense of gratitude.  As I had predicted when I made the decision to do this program.

I also miss cooking.  Surely, our kitchen is the opposite of anything to write home about (the building was built in 1972 and the kitchen has not been remodeled since;  home decorating TV shows have made us all crazy about remodeling, but seriously many aspects of our kitchen are not entirely functional), but I miss that it’s stocked with every kind of rice cooker and pot or pan and mandolin slicer and everything else that we could even imagine to be able to cook with (thanks to our lovely friends & family) — not to mention spices, stocks, sesame oils, etc.

So I’ve been trying to cook while on a tough schedule and with limited supplies.  But I’ve done alright.

Firstly, while I didn’t bring/pack/whatever any of our old junky kitchen supplies of which we have a few, I instead bought what I could from Publix: some flimsy little “cutting boards” with pictures on them and some uber-cheap yet astonishingly useful knives.

the beef one I will forever use for tomatoes

And went back to being a mostly vegetarian cook; I ate poultry and occasionally bacon while out (as is standard now), but only cooked vegetables, rice, and beans while here.  And a terrific vegetable dish for a 4th of July cookout — secret ingredient: thyme.  And dipped into some tasty pasta salads (mixed with homemade salad dressing, not mayo) but I didn’t get any photos of those.

morningstar farms “ground beef”, green beans, brown rice. homework. 

Sauteeing onions, kale & tomatoes to add over brown rice. Nom nom nom.

My good friend cameraphonevegan would be very proud of the above dishes.

I am very pleased with myself, however, that I have almost completely cut soda out of my life.  For reals, though.

The coconut water cocktail!

Of course, most of us who are here in this program are in the same circumstances.  We are all away from our friends and loved ones, so we tend to eat out a lot.  And sometimes I eat out by myself.  I got used to that when I was interning – I actually had not had my own car to drive for much longer before that, and come on, there was Tijuana Flats right down the street and Stardust coffee to consume nearby.  I surely gained 10 pounds as a teaching intern.  Oh well.

Here, we’ve got a couple of distractions:

Yes – that is a PBR tallboy, not an 8oz, for comparison.

DISCLAIMER: I did not order these myself. I admittedly ate a few, but dude. Seriously. Don’t order pizza fries unless you are willing to deal with the consequences.

But I’ve eaten enough at those particular establishments to feel a certain amount of regret.  Much of it has been fried.  Some of it after midnight.  Some of it while studying intently, some of it while my friend in from out of town developed an affinity for the ginger bartender.

Falafel and pita fries. At least what’s in the cup is an unsweetened iced tea.

These are gifts from Jesus, no joke.  Greek Jesus.  The falafel is not the greatest I’ve ever had, but the pita fries.  Yes.  Someone took a pita, sliced it up, seasoned it exquisitely, and put it together with some seriously delicious sauce I cannot spell.  I brought some of these fries down to a party in Orlando last weekend and even after being reheated in the oven and making the four hour drive, people raved over them.  Oh man.

yes!

Directly nextdoor to the blessed establishment that sells pita fries (and is the only one I’ve ever seen as such) is one of my now favorite coffee shops ever.  Their custom creations are divine, their iced coffee delicious (especially a mint mojito iced coffee with a cold banana), and their pourovers represent truly delicious coffee.  It doesn’t help that they’re around the corner from the building in which I spend most of my time.  And I’ve been depriving myself of sleep in a lot of bad ways, and therefore dependent on coffee.  And my coffee-maker supreme husband is not around.  Thus, I am the VIP card champ at this place.

And don’t let that delicious looking red velvet cupcake fool you – I hate to say it but it wasn’t that great.  Really spongy, not very flavorful, yeah.  Their sandwiches are tasty but really super greasy (aiming for the college crowd, I guess) but their once-the-kitchen-is-closed curry chicken wraps are really good.

I guess I’ve been busy, haven’t I?  You wouldn’t believe the amount of schoolwork I’ve gotten done in the midst of all this eating, either!

Enough to warrant a bottle of this, which is the only alcohol I’ve bought to keep at my living space this summer:

textbook, articles, wine cork, bad ideas all abound.

I texted my husband this photo and said, “bad idea or WORST IDEA?”  It turns out it was a little more toward the latter.  Between one, maybe two glasses (read: 1/3 filled plastic crystal cups) of that and putting on old Gilmore Girls while I drowse off to sleep, it helped to drown out the noise coming from the bar directly behind my sublease apartment.  I cannot imagine what the decibel level must have been inside the establishment.  Ugh.

Suffice to say, I’ve had some fun and learned a LOT (irrespective of anything I’ve eaten or not eaten), but I am ready to go home.  After I steal that pita fries recipe.

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our cat

It occurs to me that I haven’t shared any photos of him, at least via this medium.

the M on his head is for MALEVOLENT

This photo was from when we first brought him home.  He’s grown a bit, but he can still be a cranky kitty, especially if you alter the physical state of any blanket anywhere near him.

One of my VE (varying exceptionalites; students for whom it is recommended they not be mainstreamed) kids found out I was almost 30, and said, out loud because some of these children especially lack any sort of filter, “Thirty!?  That’s when the loneliness comes!!  You gonna be all alone at home!”

I stopped, laughed, looked out at the teacher aides in the class, and said back to him, “Sweetie, you know I have a husband and a cat at home, why would I be lonely?”

He was insistent.  “You gonna be sittin’ at home, pettin’ the cat, waitin’ for your husband to come home from work.  It’s gonna be lonely!”

I laughed again, and the aides were about to double over.  “I’m here with you guys all day!”

“But when you come home from work, you gonna be pettin’ the cat and be lonely!”

Of course, I tell my husband this, actually after I told other people because we haven’t had nearly enough time together lately to share hilarious stories and it’s a pretty hilarious story, and the husband responds, “Tell him it’s typically the other way around.”

(In case you haven’t figured it out, “housewife” is a misnomer.  I work entirely too much, yet strive to maintain a rich domestic life.)

Well.

Right now T-storm is in grad class, and he’ll be there until 10pm.

The freaking cat is sitting on hubs’s  chair, waiting for him to get home.  He squeaked and squawked when I got home, but NOTHING like he will when the hubs comes home.  He will go berserk.  He will run and jump and be excited for hours.

Sure, the cat likes me, and he likes it that I’m the one that feeds him (because of things we’ve read/heard about toxoplasmosis, and how that can even affect women of child-bearing age, T-storm will be on litter duty for probably the next 5-7 years).  But nothing, nothing can match the cat’s excitement when my husband comes through the door.  Nothing.

That cat loves my husband more than probably anything else in the world.

Good to know we’ve got something in common.

(Today’s alternate lesson: it’s okay to laugh at students.  Even ones with severe autism because sometimes they say the most hilarious things.)

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a home make me tonight

In this, the year of our marriage 1 (otherwise known as 2012), I see, hear, feel changes come.

Changes to our own lives, and changes to everything around us.  I don’t know.  For the time we were engaged, which was 21 months worth, it felt like the world was in a state of suspension.  I was so focused on one big project, and for me and my mental/familial baggage, having a successful marriage was sort of a big life goal.

I was stuffing wedding invitations and talking with some friends on Super Bowl Sunday about abandonment complexes.  Good stuff, right?  Well, said complex was pretty bad in my own life, but it’s obviously gotten way better.  My husband is worthy of every heap of praise I toss in his direction, and even more.  Possibly we’re already getting to the “take each other for granted” phase.

(Sidenote: this is going to sound like totes dumb but on an old No Doubt album where Gwen Stefani waxes nostalgic about being almost 30 and pretty pissed off waiting for her man to settle down, there’s a song called “Home Now” and she says “I want to take you for granted / and see you regular.”  Dumb as it may be, that always resonated with me.)

The year of change started off almost immediately with divorce/break-ups of friends.  BUMMER CITY.  Now it’s starting with the parents of kids I work with.  EXTREME BUMMER CITY.

And another thing: I’m trying to fix bad habits, so I can y’know, live a long life and have money to spend at some point in the future.  (It doesn’t help that I’ve been working so much/gotten so distracted that I actually made my car payment twice last month – no joke.)  Which means I have to replace certain joys with other things.So much in the mold of Liz Lemon, you take a quick & easy fast food fix away from stressed out me, and there’s not much of a happy ending.

The hubs and I have been laying low.  It’s been pretty quiet around here.  Maybe more social time is what we need?  In college, that used to be the cure for all ills – wake up on a Saturday before Christmas break and talk to my roommate for seven hours.  No joke.

And call it obnoxious, but I saw this on Pinterest this afternoon and started to cry:

OH SWEET JESUS.

Many, many, many of our friends are choosing to remain childfree, (just fyi – the link is interesting but a little…defensive sounding?  and seriously I get the career thing but choosing a “hobby” over what for most people is a biological urge?).  Which means things change at a slower pace among our group of friends.

But those who aren’t childfree are starting to get pregnant.  And starting to expand.

I talked to a friend of mine for a good long while on Monday night, and that was really a good thing.  And we were talking about kids, and about that future, and I said, “I’m not much interested in babies.  Babies are time consuming and spitty and poopy and vomit-y and such…we do want to have kids, but I can’t wait until they’re actual little people.”

Sure, there are some things that will come in the way first.  But I don’t know.  I look forward to it, sure, but I’m not yet ready.

With just about every other goal in my life thus far – college, career, marriage, I found the target, and I zereoed in on it.  Yes, even marriage.  There was  a lot of crap along the way to finding The One, but once I found it there was just no turning back.  That’s kind of how I roll.

But I am so not ready for kids yet.  I imagine approaching kids the same way I approach all of these other various life goals, and I just do not have the chutzpah for that yet.  Nor the time management, nor the housekeeping skills.

Maybe that’s the goal, the change, that has me the most freaked out.  The wedding thing we nailed.  The finding each other in a generally uncaring world, done.  Staying healthy (i.e. not secretly eating McDonald’s or Miami Subs 4-5 times a week because I’ve gotten used to it) and not perpetually broke is a challenge.  Always.

Giving up almost 3 decades worth of self-centered-ness?  That’s going to take some work.

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health, baking, and being a type-A eccentric.

Jesus H Christ.

I guess the fact that my chosen career path is more along the lines of creative ideals is a good one.  I am terrible, I repeat, TERRIBLE at sustained changes.

There was a fitness center that opened up around near us.  We paid ahead for what seemed like a great deal: crossfit style classes with total personal attention.  Or as it turned out, too much personal attention.  Not enough people signed up and the trainers (a married couple, and we really liked them) had to up and leave.  Eventually we’ll get our money back.  Eventually.  Hopefully.  Ugh.

T-storm even went so far as to get on their eating plan, which was like muscle milk followed by rice, broccoli & either tilapia or chicken like 6 times a day.  (The muscle milk being breakfast.)  Since our friends have been gone for a few weeks, tonight while helping me with my baking supplies run at 8:30 on this Sunday night (he drove the getaway car), he bought a box of Oreo Klondike bars.  How little time it takes to slip back.

We both admittedly eat more fast food than we should, as our jobs are stressful and the last two weeks have been a lot of 10-12 hour days.  And as a result, we exercise less.  The proximity and the ass-kickingness of our trainers was helping us.  Over my break, I did 275 push-ups in two days.  Yes, me!!

When I see people talk about making positive life changes, and creating habits that are lifelong, I try to think that way.  I try to zen out and think of the future.

But screw that.  I am a competitive, project-based kind of thinker.  I don’t think of what will get me somewhere in the long run.  I think of getting this task done.  Hence why I loved being a college student, and extended my stay (willfully) in undergrad.  Hence why I loved wedding planning (stressful and bonkers as it was).  PROJECT!

So tonight I tried to take on a project – a banana bread mix with vanilla pudding mix in it.

And shortening.  For the first time, I find myself cooking with shortening and I look at the ingredients.  WHOLE BEAN NON-HYDROGANATED PALM OIL.  It’s like nutritional heroin.  NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS GOOD.

I suppose I could be a wretch and just um, eat butter instead.  And really, that’s a pretty damned good idea, because butter is just BUTTER.  It’s not horribly processed worst imaginable part of a vegetable.  Dearest Gina (the other half of the Five Percent Rule) gave us some Rebel Nutritionist Rules in the past, one of them being “eat more butter.”  Not like on or with everything.

But I sure eat real butter when butter comes up, and I also drink real half & half, rather than the International Flavor junk, which is all full of palm oil stuff and horrible other things that humans were probably never meant to consume.

Anyway.  Seeing that I’m totally forgetful and tend to live from project to project, and not with any real true stability in mind (don’t even talk to me about finances), we are missing something important at home.  FLOUR.  And we really like our neighbors (at least the ones across the hall) but we’re not close enough to them that we’d ask them to borrow some flour.  I went through an insane baking streak on Christmas Eve this past year and had my mother-in-law bring some back over.

We had enough for those cookies.  No extra.  So we made a bonus trip to the store for shortening and chocolate chips (which are much healthier than the shortening) and now even though I started late I can’t bake the extra moist chocolate chip banana bread.

Like I said, everything is a project.  As my mother would say about me, I get a “bee in my bonnet” and I just have to do something, at whatever moment it is, regardless of how convenient it is.  Which in some manner of speaking gets me a reputation for getting things done, and in others makes me a nutjob.

Back to shortening.  Just the thought of scooping it out made me feel like Paula Deen.  Ugh.  I’m not the healthiest person, but I am also lucky enough to not take a liking to the most unhealthy foods.

And healthy eating is like fitness for me.  My next goal is running a half marathon.  A friend of mine who’s been doing lots of exercise craziness and Paleo diet with her husband for the last year or so posted a little graphic on Pinterest, stating, “I’m not training for a 5K.  Blah blah blah.  I’m not trying to impress you.  I’m saving my life.”

I can’t operate like that.  I don’t work that way.  I need to have a project.  I want to run a half marathon.  Because giving myself an end goal will make me do it.  And in the way that my bizarre little brain works, as long as I have constant goals and projects on the horizon, I keep busy & productive.  I want to train to run a half marathon…because it’s a project.  It’s a source of motivation.  It’s the way I work.

Tonight I was defeated, even though the goal turned out to not be something that was going to be terribly good anyway, and it was frustrating.  I was about to join my husband in eating a completely unnecessary Oreo Klondike bar.

But alas.  Sitting in between him (playing Skyrim) and the sleeping orange cat calms me down.

New “project”: attaining a healthy balance between things I have to do, things I enjoy doing, and things I should do to stay healthy.  (Next goal: getting better at these lifelong “projects”.)

AND pertinent links:

Give up coffee?  Never!  (And the ramifications of that.)

Paula Deen’s diabetic shitshow.

 

***UPDATE***

Found a non-life-threatening alternative recipe!!  YESSSSSS!!

Petite Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Loaves!

(Also, if you post a delicious looking recipe with “skinny” in the caption, you will be the most popular person on Pinterest.)

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sleepy

Not 24 hours ago I was trying to be all old and wise and married lady, and say “if you sleep you’ll be pretty.”

I suppose I will never be pretty. If pretty = bedtimes, then I’m a troll who belongs under a bridge.

I was all feeling sorry for myself earlier, having a stupid “there’s nothing to look forward to” pathetic pity party. I thought I was like so above that when my wedding came to fruition and I wasn’t feeling sad, but rather excited and fulfilled and what not.

Some of the magic has worn off a little bit, that doubling with a different Christmas than I’d prepared myself for, I was getting all cranky about it. I’m also probably ovulating. Alas.

But then I realized – I know what I can do to cure my sleepiness: BUDGET!

But it didn’t cure my sleepiness. That’s because Mint.com is almost as fun to play with as lots of other websites (including this one). In the history of my websites I like to play with, this has to be at least up there with how much damn time I spent on angelfire, pretending I could write html code when I was a teenager.

Anyway. Do you have an unfortunate dislike for numbers and setting seemingly arbitrary rules for yourself? Yes, Mint can help even you. If it can help me, it can help you.

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