Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I can't imagine any scenario in which trading Mark DeRosa was a good idea.

I'm so sorry to see you go. I really enjoyed watching you play, and you seemed like a really good guy, too. Probably the worst part is that you're in the American League now, so I'll never get to see you.

I think I need to start telling people that Soriano is my favorite player so maybe the Cubs will trade him next.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

So for all of my complaining about the holidays, I do have to say that at least one really great thing came out of all of it. I got kitchen gadgets. I've been getting into cooking more and more lately, because there is something about a home cooked meal - it almost makes me want to cry with joy after eating a really good meal. I feel like I'm doing my body a favor by eating well. I just had a red lentil curry with cauliflower and parsnips - a recipe out of my new favorite cookbook, Veganomicon - and a mini pita from Whole Foods. And it was just so friggin' good.

Thing is, I've always known that I could cook. I always did fine in home economics and stuff like that. I'm an excellent baker. But I have more of a taste for sweet things than savory things, so I took to baking more than cooking. Somehow, cooking was a little more daunting. But, as we have recently found out, I am a smart cookie and cooking shouldn't be that hard. So if you, like me, have some irrational fear of making dinner, let me offer you these simple guidelines that will take some of the scary out of it:

1. Find a recipe and follow it. They usually write out the directions very clearly, so as long as you don't skip a step, you should be fine.
2. Use a timer if necessary. If the recipe says to cook the onions until they become translucent, but you have no idea what that looks like, use a timer. The recipe will probably say something like "5 to 7 minutes." So cook them for six and you should be fine. Same with pasta. If you notoriously overcook pasta, just set a timer according to the directions on the box. You'll have perfect pasta every time.
3. Don't be afraid of "exotic" ingredients. So what if you've never bought coriander before? Give it a shot. The people who put that recipe together knew what they were doing when they put it in there, so if you put it in there, too, you'll get the actual flavor of the dish as it is supposed to be.
4. Don't be afraid to get dishes dirty. If you don't have expert knife skills and it'll take you longer than 30 seconds to dice an onion, cut up all of your veggies before you even start to cook so when it's time to throw them in, they're right there, ready to go. Yes, it's a couple of extra bowls to wash, but it will keep you from burning your meal.

I think those are the big ones. Though it also helps if you have good tools - sturdy pots and pans, a spoon that feels good in your hand, a grater, a mixer, measuring cups, etc. And fresh ingredients make all the difference. But really, cooking isn't that scary, and it's not that hard. And just think of the favor you are doing your body by putting fresh (organic when possible) ingredients in there instead of some crazy over-processed junk.

Anyway. Thus begins my journey down the road to foodie. And, in some circles, this would make me a much more appealing wife/girlfriend candidate. Woo hoo.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I think it is quite possible that the most annoying part of all of this snow and ice is the almost constant sound of tires squealing on ice as people try to force their cars out of difficult parking spaces.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

So I feel the need to put up a public apology for my last blog. I didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings with it. My family is wonderful and they put so much time and thought and effort into making the holidays warm and welcoming and then I went and kind of poo-pooed it because I have my own issues going on. I didn't mean to poo-poo their efforts. I love their efforts and I love my family very much. I'm sorry if that part got lost.

And I'm working on my issues. I know that 90% of it is in my head, but that doesn't make the issues any less real to me. I think my New Year's resolution this year will be to figure out how to reduce that number, to come to terms with my issues, and work on making them go away. Or at least to work on making it so that my issues don't ruin the holidays for me or anyone else.

Merry Christmas to you all (or happy Hanukkah, joyous Kwanzaa, peaceful Ramadan, or whatever holiday you happen to celebrate at this time of year, I hope your celebrations are warm and peaceful and joyous). I love my family. Please always know that. I love having you in my life.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I think it would help if I had some sort of holiday tradition, but let's be honest, I don't. My childhood holiday traditions started disappearing and/or changing when my parents got divorced. And please please please believe me when I say that I'm not at all upset about the fact that my parents are divorced. I think it was a really good thing. Yes, it sucked at the time, but it really was a good thing - my parents both have partners now who they love and who love them and it really worked out well. But during the whole thing, the things that made the holidays great when I was a kid changed. We didn't make cookies as much. Tree decorating happened a couple of times, but not quite with the same vigor. The guests who showed up at the extended family gathering changed. The venue for the extended family gathering changed. I stopped going to church. It turned into this long ordeal wherein I would go to the big family thing, then church with my dad, the stay over at my dad's house (in freezing cold pajamas that had been sitting in my car for hours), do the gift exchange thing at dad's (where all my bows were smooshed from sitting in the car for hours), have something to eat there, go to mom's and exchange gifts again (again, with smooshed bows) and eat again, and finally get home somewhere between 24 and 36 hours after I left. It was a tradition, but an obnoxious one. And then I became vegan and made the whole thing even more annoying, both for my family who is lovely in trying to make stuff for me, and for me who had to bring my own form of protein to whatever family gathering. So finally last year, I stopped doing that. My dad no longer lived in the house I grew up in, so I said I wanted to spend Christmas night in my own bed. And it was lovely. But it means I really have no holiday traditions anymore. I tried getting my own tree one year and inviting friends over to make ornaments - I think two people came and I was the only one making ornaments. I've put up lights around my windows, but my cat tries to eat them so it's really more of a hassle than anything.

Which really makes me wonder what is so wonderful about this time of year? Which I know is probably a very offensive question to any religious readers I might have. Sorry about that. But it's been shown many times that Jesus probably wasn't born in late December - he was most likely born in the middle of summer but his birth was celebrated in December so that the Pagans wouldn't persecute the Christians for celebrating their beliefs. So why don't we all tell everyone we love how much we love them at the end of July instead? Why do we do it when it's cold and slushy and you have to bundle up in 17 layers to get out and do anything and when you're driving home, your chances of dying are much improved by the simple fact that the roads are probably coated in ice that you can't even see? Which is probably offensive to anyone in the southern hemisphere who happens to be reading this. Sorry about that.

I don't mean to be offensive. I'm just disgruntled. The holidays are a hassle, but people put up with them because they have fond memories or favorite traditions - things that make the hassle worth it. I don't. Which is mostly of my own doing, but I don't. I was so pissed off earlier today and I was trying to think of a movie I could watch that would put me in the holiday spirit and I couldn't think of one. I don't have space for a tree. I don't have a good kitchen for baking tons of cookies. I don't have a fireplace. I have gloves that reek of gasoline from when I had to refill my car manually. I have about four days this week where I'll have to go somewhere and be friendly and pleasant and pretend that everything is okay and I like this crap. Can't I just tell my friends and family that I love them and give them random Tuesday presents when I find something I think they'll enjoy?

To my friends and family - I love you. I am so blessed to have you in my life. I will tell you that when I see you. I will tell you that in March and in July and the next time you call for no reason. I don't need a specific day of the year to celebrate that. My whole attitude about the holidays will probably change when I have my own family and/or small children in my life and can start building my own set of traditions, but until then, I really don't want to participate. I really really don't. It's not intended as a slight against you; I just don't want to do this anymore.

Which means I'll go bake and decorate cookies this week and go over to my brother's and smile and pretend that it's all okay and I like this crap.
So I placed an order online for some items to give my dad and stepmother for Christmas. There were several items, one of which shipped by itself and has arrived just fine, the other five of which are in a package that is, near as I can tell, being held hostage by the United States Postal Service. This particular package was sent the day before the one item that has made it to me already, but I may or may not get it by December 23. As the wonderful, friendly, ray-of-sunshine woman I talked to on the phone told me at least 87 times, it's not guaranteed. Essentially, because I didn't want to pay through the nose for shipping, my package is worthless and unimportant and can be used, abused, mistreated, forwarded for some unknown reason, lost, redirected, and I may or may not ever actually see the thing. And if I call to ask questions about whether or not I might ever get my package, I am told that nobody there or at any other phone number can answer my questions or offer any sort of insight or, hell, even empathy regarding the situation. Nor do I have any sort of recourse if I never get my package because it isn't insured.

The long and the short of it is that the United States Postal Service can bite my ass. Merry friggin' Christmas, I hate you all.

Sorry, I'm grumpy today. My car ran out of gas while I was warming it up and brushing the snow off of it and even though I have a gas can in my trunk and was able to get down to the gas station to get some gas, it didn't work so I now either have to go get a new gas can and more gas or I have to call roadside assistance to come help with my car. That I am already uber pissed at for all of the other crap that's been going wrong with it. And normally, I wouldn't mind so much, but this is one of those weeks wherein even though I have the time off of work, I have so much crap to do that I really can't be without a car this week. And I ran out of toilet paper and Kleenex so even if I wanted to (which I do), I couldn't just sit around and pout all day. Do I have to participate in this week? Can I just skip the whole holiday thing? Please?

Friday, December 12, 2008

My whole life, I've been what most people would call a smart cookie. I learned to read by about age two. I was at the top of my class through school. I could have skipped second grade, but my elementary school didn't think that would be good for my social development, so they just gave me extra projects to do instead. I took all honors classes. I took high school algebra in 8th grade, and got a 5 on the AP calculus test as a junior in high school. I was in the program for smart kids at my high school, and graduated with 35 AP credits, which allowed me to graduate from college in just three years. Summa cum laude.

Why am I telling you this? Not to brag. Just to illustrate that I am a smart cookie. And I have to tell you, growing up, it sucked. Smart kids are teased. I was passed over for creative things in high school because I was one of the smart kids. And it becomes this weird intimidation thing, or just plain awkward thing. What teenage boy wants to ask out a girl who is smarter than he is? Not to mention that I had horrible skin and was socially awkward despite not skipping second grade. It sucked. I was resentful of being intelligent because I felt isolated.

So I went to college and studied theater at a school that is not necessarily known for smart cookies. I didn't really advertise the fact that I started as as sophomore and never had to take another math class as long as I lived if I didn't want to. And I just kind of blended in. After graduation, telling people that my degree is in theater from a university that is not necessarily known for spitting out smart cookies didn't exactly carry the same kind of clout that going to, say, Harvard or MIT or Oxford would have. And that was fine, for a while. But I know I'm smart. The people who know me well know I'm smart. And part of me really wants to be recognized again as a really smart person. Like maybe my opinion would count for a little something extra if people knew I wasn't Joe Average walking in from off the street. So I went in and took the test to qualify for Mensa. And I qualified. Which means as soon as I send in my membership dues, I will be a Mensan. I will be a person who is at least nationally, if not internationally, recognized as being a particularly smart cookie. And I will be able to network with other particularly smart cookies. I'll get back to that place where people will just kind of assume I know the answers to things. Where they won't feel it necessary to talk down to me. Hopefully.

The funny thing is, when the envelope showed up in my mailbox today, I was nervous about opening it. As much as I know I'm a smart cookie, only the top two percent are invited to join Mensa. What if I'm in the top five, but not the top two? And when I opened the letter and saw, "Congratulations!" I started jumping up and down and screaming. I had no idea it meant that much to me. But I guess it does. And I'm really happy that I qualified for Mensa.

It's fun being a smart cookie.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

As much as I know it's a necessary evil, I really hate extermination day. We have to take everything out of all of our kitchen and bathroom cabinets and take the drawers out of their sockets so they can come in and spray. Granted, I would much prefer this to living in a roach infested building. Near as I can tell, this is not a roach infested building. Probably because they exterminate regularly. But it's rather a pain in the ass.

On the up side, it does make me go through everything I have in my cabinets so I can throw away the stuff that I haven't touched since the last extermination day. Dead cereal. Mystery crackers. Soup mix that in three years, I still have not made. And then I get to put all the stuff I kept back in the cabinets but with some sort of order to it. Hopefully a better order that makes more sense and takes less space than the previous order created after the last extermination day.

On the down side, once I put everything back in my cabinets, I'll have to take it out again and wash the strange yellow powder off of it. Yay.
So it just keeps getting colder outside. Fortunately it's staying something close to warm-ish inside. I put that plastic stuff up on my windows to try to keep the warm in, but this morning it was 64 in my apartment. And the plastic is blocking my cat's access to the condensation on the windows which he loves using for drinking water. I think he'd rather be warm though, and there are three other windows he can drink from.

And also on the positive side, it is now just under four months until opening day.

I also found a bass player. We have a show on Saturday. I'm a little nervous about it, and a little afraid he's going to leave, too, out of boredom or something. But he's really good and I'm really excited to have him on board.

So if we could just get past the whole holiday thing, things might be starting to look up.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Traci Lords (or whoever runs her official MySpace page) found me on MySpace and sent a friend request. I'm not quite sure what to make of that. I accepted, but I'm still a little confused. Is she just looking to up her friend count, or is she wishing Coming Home had been used in Zach and Miri?

I don't know that I'm ever going to think of that song in the same way.
Happy December.

So Tuesday is weigh-in day and I'm down 10 pounds from when I started. Woo hoo! This officially puts me into the acceptable weight range for my height. I'd still like to lose a little more so I'm more towards the middle of the range, but in general, I feel good. My pants fit again. I like it that I've sort of re-distributed my food throughout the day (bigger lunches and breakfasts, smaller dinners) and re-instituted the afternoon snack. And probably the best part is that I'm cooking more. I've kind of turned Sunday into cooking day, and then I eat the leftovers for lunch all week. Means I have homemade, satisfying lunches at work every day, which I have to admit, is kind of nice. Like today, I had a winter vegetable curry, dahl, and naan. How many people do you know have homemade Indian food for lunch? Who aren't Indian, anyway.

And please don't worry about me. I'm doing this in a very healthy way. I'm eating all of my points every week (or getting within a point or two of doing so). I'm still splurging on fries and cake every now and again. I'm eating lots of fruits and veggies, and getting enough protein. Even starting taking a multi-vitamin again. So I'm being healthy. Getting exercise. Eating right. Eating more balanced meals. And shedding the excess weight that I've been hanging onto with my really strange eating habits. Feels good.

So hooray for the first 10. Here's to another.