Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's in a name?

It has been a rough summer.

Mind you any normal, sane person would look at my summer schedule and say: "WOW! You had time to rest, relax, sleep, recoup. That must have been great!" But alas, I am neither a normal or sane person.

This summer has been challenging for me because I went from moving at warp speed in 32 different directions as a graduate student, employee, commuter, friend, teacher, partner, daughter, sister, bridesmaid, hopeful parent, and hopeful home owner (to name a few) all at the same time to well...what felt like a stalled out version of my former self. Mind you, the break was much needed and I don't think I could have continued at the rate at which I was moving and been a healthy person for much longer. But nevertheless, stopping and re-framing my entire world view in a little over 3 months has been a little tricky.

This summer has been filled with beautiful, wonderful, amazing things. I was a proud and honored witness to two of my dearest friends uniting in partnership to men they adore. I was the hostess to my family and friends on several occasions. I was a tourist in my own town, traveling to my partner's family beach house on a couple of occasions and enjoying the city that I fell in love with some 8 years ago. I was humbled by my own academic achievements when I received my master's degree. I have made new friends and rediscovered what life can be like without the constant pressure of "something else I should be doing." I have rediscovered other, important and treasured elements of my identity: a singer, a craft-queen, a baker, a friend, a goof-ball, and an athlete.

This summer has been filled with horrible, awful, ridiculous moments, too. I have faced rejection for jobs for which I know I would be amazing. I have battled with my hormones and used more panty liners than most women do in a year. I have struggled to understand my purpose and value in the world and in my partnership. I have tortured myself with too little and too much always in the pursuit of "just enough." I have stumbled onto biases and privileges I never knew I had, much less wanted. I have been forced to re-define who I am, how I fit with those I love, and what my intentions really are. I have missed the window of opportunity to take a shower more times than I'd like to admit. I have found ways to distract myself and keep myself busy without actually accomplishing anything. I have watched the 700 Club and infomercials for body shapers and sandwich pocket makers. I have cried, and cried, and cried. I have fought (a loosing) turf war against the pigeons at our apartment complex. I have bickered, argued, picked fights with and stormed off on my partner.

It was during one of these awful moments, when my partner and I were exploring some mammoth concept like the purpose of life when I was given my nom de plume (look mom I can spell in French). After an argument (or what anyone else would likely call a discussion (but I'm sensitive so it was an argument to me)) I looked through tears into the eyes of my partner and apologized for the weepy, sullen, angst-ridden creature I had been lately. My partner then said to me: "It is okay. You are just like my little Phoenix. You are beautiful and your tears have healing powers, but you get blue and your feathers get ruffled and then you burst into flames. Sometimes those flames run a little hot but for the most part you are re-born into a beautiful new Phoenix."

That's love, isn't it? Only a partner who truly loves me for what I am (and not it spite of it) could see my border line manic-depressive affect as something as beautiful and majestic as a Phoenix. It was after my partner gave me this nick-name that I went on to learn more about these mythical creatures. There is all sorts of mythology, theology, and other -ologies that tell the tale (no pun intended) of these beautiful birds. But I like my partner's summation best.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Tag - you're it!

PJP has tagged me, and I'm honored. How fun?! The blog version of a chain letter. In keeping with the spirit of the tag - here' are my tags:
1. GiGi
2. Teed
3. JM
4. Cakewrecks
5. Hotdish and Hallelujahs
6. Unnecessary quotation marks
7. The Co-author

Play along if you like, and if not, I'm sure the world will keep spinning.

Here are the rules:
1. If you've been tagged, you can put the logo on your blog.
2. Link the person from whom you received the award.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs.
4. Put links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs you've nominated.

Happy Monday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Betty Baker Strikes Again

So... my, naturally-beautiful, does-nothing-wrong, "skinny-as-a-pickle", super-mom, wonder-nurse, balls-of-steel sister has started to blog. What can I say, it is like a communicable disease. First Princess Jessie Pants, then Choirpres and Soundguy, then me, now my mom and then, because my mom is, my sister. It is an epidemic. Blogging: the new influenza. I digress.

My sister, Teed (a name that I bequeathed to her many moons ago when her given name was more syllables than my small mouth could handle), has started a blog. Check it out: http://www.teed-blahblahblog.blogspot.com, she claims not to be as talented or funny as mom or me, but she lies. I blame that on her large, curly hair (the mommy with the big hair, as her youngest son describes her) -- sometimes it puffs up so big that she must not be able to actually SEE that she is the "good one" (that aught to get mom going, right?). I digress, yet again (story of my life).

In her initial posting she aptly points out that I have a lot of opinions. Any reader who knows me knows this to be as painfully true as the self observation I made a few months back: "I'm a little high strung". In fact, during my first review at a former job my supervisor noted that "Sh ehas a lot of great ideas, insights, and opinions and she is open and willing to share them freely!" (or something like that). This is the nice way to say: "She is opinionated and a loud mouth." I'll take it, better that than meek and mousy, right? Thought this was another digression --- ha! Fooled you. It is NOT. Just the frame work for the rest of the story (you see, I tell a story like you are supposed to work on a puzzle, set up the frame work with the outside edges and then pick up pieces and try to fit them together....damn, I digress...don't I?).

SO, anyway...Teed pointed out that I am opinionated, and while it comes as no surprise I take that observation as a challenge to use my blog today for something potentially useful. Below, please find two new recipes. Both of these are my variations on sweets ('cause that's what I prefer to spend my time in the kitchen making) that I heard about or read recipes of but never wrote down. If you need a nosh for the weekend - try them out and let me know how they go. Perhaps one or both of these will sound good and stay down PJP? Keep on trucking, the first trimester is almost over, I'm told that it gets dramatically better in the 2nd trimester (though, what the hell do I know?! My hormones are so irregular that I might as well be 13 again!)

Happy Reading, Happy Baking, Happy Weekend.


S'mores Bars
Just when you thought summer was over and you'd have to pack up the S'mores supplies until next year - try this out instead.

1 large bag of mini marshmallows (about 8 cups)
2 sleeves of graham crackers
2 chocolate bars
1/4 cup butter

Butter or grease (use your "fat" of choice) a 9x13 baking dish. Cut or break graham crackers into 1x1 inch-ish squares. Cut or break chocolate bars into pieces.

At a medium heat ('cause NOTHING smells worse than burned marshmallow) combine butter and 6 cups marshmallows in a large sauce pan. Stir frequently until butter has melted and marshmallows are smooth. I recommend you use a non-stick pan and a non-stick spatula for this process, it makes clean up much easier.

Remove from heat and add graham cracker pieces. Fold to coat. Fold in remaining 2 cups marshmallows. Finally, add chocolate bars.

Dump the ooey-gooey-goodness into prepared baking dish and pat down 'till it is even. Let sit until cool. Lick the pan and the spatula. Slice and enjoy.

Aunties Indecisive Cookies
What are they, peanut butter, chocolate chip, oatmeal? Ala Phoebe from "Friends" ..."what the crap is up with this stuff....oh, it is good, may I try another?!" (Who can tell me what she's talking about? A free batch of cookies for the first reader who can identify the sweet to which she is referring.)

I know they look like they don't know what they want to be (hence the name) but they really are pretty tasty. Not to mention that if I had a regular cycle I'm sure they'd be a great PMS cure. Salty and sweet is good, right? How would I know - my reproductive system is messed up.

The nut butter gives a (this will come a shock) nutty flavor and is my favorite alternative to nuts (in my opinion nuts don't belong in baked goods). The oats make the cookie more robust and chewy. I have listed ways to make these "friendly" for people with diabetes, diary, nut, and gluten allergies 'cause it would SUCK not to be able to eat sweets and it is SUPER easy to make accommodations so we can all enjoy (a little shout out to my high-maintenance-food-yet-lovably-allergic friends).

I like to make the batter ahead of time, roll it into balls, and freeze it. We cook a few each night in the toaster-oven, 'cause what's better than a warm cookie? OMG, enough...the recipe already!

1/2 cup butter or margarine - softened
1/2 cup peanut, almond, cashew or other nut butter (omit, obviously, if anyone has a nut allergy)
1/2 cup brown sugar (you can use less or a sugar substitute if you prefer)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (you can use less or a sugar substitute if you prefer)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup flour (whole wheat, all-purpose, gluten-free...doesn't matter)
1 cup oats (what ever you've got around, use Irish oats if making these gluten-free)
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 bag (yes, the whole bag, this is what makes them good) milk chocolate chips (or what ever type of chocolate chips are your favorite)

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butters and sugars together until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Set aside. Sift flour, oats, soda, and salt together. Add dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Once combined, stir in chocolate chips.

Form into balls (I like to use my melon baller for this 'cause I've got a touch of OCD and all of my cookies have to be a similar size/shape. However, if you aren't certifiable I'm sure you could do the "drop by rounded teaspoonful" thing that recipes always suggest -- seriously just "drop" them and that's that? How uncivilized.).

Place on cookie sheet (or baking stone if you know where its at) and bake for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. When possible serve warm.

For some added calories and fat ('cause sometimes that's just the way we roll) drop a couple of cookie balls into a ramekin and bake until just barely cooked (almost light brown). Remove from oven and top while hot with ice-cream or soy-ice cream. Called "Bazuike and Cream" and SOOO good.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The road to hell - not just for good intentions!

So much for my resolution to make a daily post to my blog! I wish I had some sort of excuse, like being busy at work, around the house, or with something else important. Alas, I have not. Just case of blog-astination, I suppose.

In an effort to make up for lost time, here's the "Top 10 Updates On Me":

1) Had a 2nd interview for a job in Portland yesterday and it went well. My former cohort mate readers will appreciate this aspect of the interview: they asked me about my theoretical orientation for student development! I could have talked for HOURS! :)

2) My partner has been working like a fiend. Long days and almost all weekend. The billable year ends October 31 - we think we can, we think we can....

3) I'm considering turning completely to alternative medicine as I think it might be the only way to get what I need. I refuse to believe that medication and surgery are the only options we have for treatment. I DEMAND a third option. Fair warning: I'm about to jump on the "ultra-woo-woo-hippie-wagon" for my health and you can expect herbal supplements and scary green detoxifying drinks a plenty!

(Putting away soap box....oh wait, just kidding....)

4) I'm in such support of Obama that it actually hurts a little. I'm disgusted with McCain/Palin and I REALLY hope the debate happens on Friday. Have you registered to vote? Have you made sure that your loved ones (hell, everybody you know) are?

(Okay, now putting away soap box)

5) I have super-fun-super-cute new shoes that I bought in a fit of retail therapy this weekend (did I mention that my partner worked all weekend...I needed SOMETHING to do!) they are ballet flats-meet wedges-crossed with a Mary Jane, all in "Plum" (a.k.a. "my color") FAB, even though they are giving me blisters.

6) I've decided to train for the Eugene Marathon in May - May 3, 2009 to be exact. Anyone who wants to journey to Track Town USA to support me is welcome. More news on this soon.

7) I turn 28 one week from today. I LOVE birthdays and am looking forward to this one, the even years have treated me well --graduation from HS, WU, and the wedding. Plans to celebrate include a trip to the coast next weekend with the partner and some dear friends (one of whom is also an October 1 kid!).

8) I really want to join a choir but feel compelled to give my life a chance to balance out before I commit to weekly rehearsals and concert weekends. Blerg. For now, I think about how fun it would be an torment Choirpres with the idea of tagging along at one of her many choir commitments.

(Returning to soap box...)

9) I'm continuing to learn about privilege. The lesson this month, it isn't always visible to those who have it. Lesson 1: Insurance. I tried to fill a prescription this weekend during which time the Pharm tech checked 3 times about my insurance coverage and felt compelled to tell me "It's really spendy, like $112!" Thanks, I needed EVERYONE in Target to know that I'm paying of pocket. And no, even though my partner has coverage doesn't mean that I automatically do. Lesson 2: Parenthood. Newsflash - it is not "easy" for everyone to achieve, one shouldn't assume they have ANY kind of an idea what other people have tried or considered. Further it is ridiculous for anyone to assume (as I once did) that a) someone who is good with children should want to or need to become a biological parent and b) someone who is having difficulty conceiving can't be ELATED for his/her friends/family who are expecting.

(Stepping down from soap box...)

10) I've decided to read at least 1 book per month claiming: It is something people with master's degrees do. My first attempt: Meg Wheatley's: "Leadership and the New Science," some colleagues and I have formed an e-book group to encourage reading outside of work and continue our relationship from graduate school. So far, I love it.

I'm hopeful to write more often, thanks to my readers for letting me rant.



Saturday, September 6, 2008

In hot pursuit of a streak free shine -- an OCD moment with no one here to intervene

So yesterday afternoon I was in a mad rush to clean the house before my partner returned home from work. It is important to note, by the way, that I am always MOST productive when I have just under an hour to accomplish a task. Why is it, I wonder, that when I have a 10+ hour day to fill with chores and to-do's that the last hour is the only time that I can truly seem to DO anything? Erg! So, in my rush to complete something of note before my betrothed descended on our less-than-clean haven for the weekend, I set out to spiff up the bathrooms in our apartment.

Now, there in our home there is a difference between "spiff" and "clean". It is a distinction that, apparently, only I understand and that I am quite sure that I defined (or at least that is what my partner says). It is a key distinction, nonetheless. To spiff: To maintain the cleanliness of an area from a former cleaning OR to spot clean an area until it can be "cleaned" thoroughly. To clean: To channel my OCD tendencies, arm myself with heavy-duty-cleaners (the more caustic the better) and scrubbing tools, and persevere over the dirt, germs, dust, and grime.

So, I'm spiffing the bathrooms. In this case, I was maintaining a deeper cleaning. I wiping, scrubbing, rinsing, and shining. I spray the glass cleaner on the mirror, I wipe, I hear that oh-so=gratifying "skweeeek" and I think I'm done. Little did I know that the bottle claiming a "streak free shine" was ALL A LIE. How rude.

I first notice a film-y, foggy like residue on the mirror and I think that my contacts need re-wetting. Surely, I thought, I heard the gratifying "skweeek" against the mirror, so this can't possibly be streaking. After all, I was promised streak free shine! I blinked a few times to re-wet the contacts and still, to my dismay, the mirror is covered in streaks! "Well, certainly this won't do", I said to myself as I approached the mirror, rag in hand, ready to find my streak free shine.

Mirror vs. me, Round 1: I buffed, I polished, I scrubbed. I began to sweat. I realized that this was going to take work, and not the work of some girl just interested in a "spiff" oh no, but rather a girl committed to a real true "cleaning". A glimpse at my reflection in the still-foggy mirror revealed that I was working hard enough to make my hair grow in size exponentially with each passing swipe of the cloth. Now, I digress, but the girls with naturally curly hair in my reading audience can understand this -- it isn't a pretty sight, we can go from lovely girl with nice hair to someone resembling Ronald McDonald in just under 23 seconds if we aren't careful. In an attempt to manage my quickly growing afro, I tie on a do-rag (a "Race for the Cure" hanky folded into a triangle, placed around my hair, and tied at the nape of my neck. A la Rosie the Riveter) and return to my mission of finding that damn streak free shine. After all, I WAS promised one by the bottle of glass cleaning solution and NOW I've ruined a perfectly good hair day in its pursuit.

Mirror vs. me, Round 2: I sat, stood, crouched, and leaned, peered, squinted, and tilted my head from side to side, turned the lights on and off and open and closed the windows to change the light. I left the room at one point thinking I'd succeeded only to return to find more damn streaks.

Mirror vs. me, Round 3: I got up-close-and-personal with the mirror. Sitting on the counter spritzing small sprays of cleaner in concentrated areas followed by wiping with a paper towel and a finishing buff with a dry cloth accomplished my streak free shine. For those of you who haven't seen my bathroom you might be thinking "Well sure, that sounds reasonable" but little do you know that between the two baths in my home I have about 9,274 square feet of mirror! And, just under one roll of paper towels, 1/2 a bottle of glass cleaner, and about an hour later...I emerged from the bathrooms, triumphant! It took a good fight and there were a few battles lost but overall I had won the war.

What I find equally as comical in this whole scenario is that once I got into my OCD-end-of-the-day-productive groove, in addition to spiffing the bathrooms and fighting the good fight for my streak free shine I also managed to dust, vacuum, sweep and mop all the floors. All in just and hour and a half.

Friday, September 5, 2008

A Working Woman's Prayer

This is my intention for the future. I created it at the request/suggestion of the acupuncturist I see as a way to define my intention and direct my energy within the universe. A lot of "woo-woo"....I know but I like to believe that East can met West and create an amazing hybrid.

Happy reading.

I will go to work each day with excitement about what I am doing, the opportunity to serve, and how I am a contribution to the world. I will channel my energy to help, organize, nurture, plan, orchestrate, coordinate, teach, and build relationships with others in my working community. I will find balance in other aspects of my life –building a relationship with my partner, singing, interacting with friends, dedicating myself to family, and serving my community civically.

I will get up and ready in the morning with my partner. The clean, crisp air and the early morning light will remind me that each day is new. I will dedicate my time with my partner to joy and beginnings. I will share myself completely and witness wholly. When I set out for work I will be aware of but not dictated by the time. I will think about the coming moments of the day but let them wash over me like a primer rather than a stain.

I will arrive at work with a sense of hope. I will greet my co-workers with a pleasant and genuine regard. I will allow myself to settle into my space and acclimate to my surroundings. I will plan my actions with intention and remain flexible to unforeseen issues throughout the day. I will use my skills and experience to learn and to teach. I will use my knowledge to empower others. I will be fulfilled by my work but not defined by it. I will seek to find harmony with those whom I do not see eye-to-eye. I will continuously challenge myself to work outside my comfort zone. I will run, toward my passions and alongside those whom I serve.

I will work independently and diligently. I will always break to help or witness a student or co-worker in need. I will find solace in building community with my colleagues – especially in meetings or other opportunities to break from my routine. I will use my break times to re-center my soul and to cleanse the energy I have used. I will breath in new energy to put toward the betterment of others and myself.

I will be aware of the passage of time – watching the sky grow dark, the weather change, the seasons forge on. As the day comes to a close I will collect myself and examine my successes from throughout the day as well as the tasks that lie ahead for tomorrow. I will organize or clean my space to prepare for my new day and I will consult my calendar to begin framing what the days ahead of me hold in store.

I will leave my office confident in my work and reflective regarding my practice in my profession. I will contemplate my challenges and explore ways to improve my craft when faced with new opportunities to do so. I will use my journey home to connect with my loved ones, meditate in silence, or to prepare myself for the evening ahead. I will feel fulfilled—having expended the energy that I was blessed with and used the talents I possess to do my work well.

When I return to my home I will use it as a haven, a place for solace, a place where I am welcomed, accepted, comfortable, and surrounded by joy. I will utilize opportunities to nourish the other aspects of my identity –eating whole and delicious foods, moving my body in sync with music and my breath, lifting my voice in song. I will allow myself time for entertainment, conversation, and relaxation.

I will journey to rest comfortable in my skin; satiated by the nourishments I have received in various forms throughout the day; content with what and who I am; satisfied with my accomplishments; encouraged by my challenges; grateful for the gifts and graces bestowed upon me. I will be fulfilled with the love for and of my partner and I will reflect that love. I will remain thankful for the opportunity to use my energy to better the world –even in small ways. I will be excited for much needed rest and in zealous anticipation of the new day to come in the morning.

Cave couples had it easier

This is a combination of a few email exchanges I had with a dear friend in which we were discussing the challenges of being a 2 professional couple. Thanks to her for her contributions. Happy reading.

Makes me wonder if life was more simple for cave-people? Did the
hunters and gatherers try to balance their needs to develop as
professionals within their fields? Do you think that cro-mag-nin (sp?)
couples found cave space between prime hunting areas and good
gathering fields from which they could both commute on foot to perform
their respective roles? Did they have arguments about how they would
divide the chores --who would wash the hides and who would take the
mammoth out for a walk? When the hunters wanted to follow the herd of
bison do you think the gatherers would have precautions about how that
would affect their work? Was it hard to acclimatize to the new
gathering environments, was there an application and orientation
process involved?

Did the cave-carers develop a cavechild cooperative? Did they find it
necessary to respect each others' boundaries, and allow time for
creative pursuits, such as bone sculpture and cavepainting? Did they
balance their short term needs (meat!) with long-term choices, such as
a 401(cave) plan with a generous 3% bison matching program?

While it is fun to think about, I doubt that life was always as
complex then as we make it now. In trying to live a more simple life I
often realize that I usually make things more difficult than they
probably need to be as a result of my privilege within our very
society. I try (though often not well) to remember to approach
transitions like I suspect the cave people did: for the moment and
following our proverbial herd of bison without trepidation.

As we straddle a demanding job market and a high bar for personal
fulfillment, maybe a little bit of buffalo-chasing and hide-cleaning
might calm us down a bit. So, I say let's live more like our
ancestors...except with less grunting, more showers, and better


Now that we're well into the 21st century, I figured it was high time for me to jump on the blogging train. Next up: steam engines, electricity, and microwaves.

Thanks to my friends and family who supported and encouraged me to give this a try. My hope is that this blog will be a place for me to share my thoughts, keep my loved ones in the loop, and perhaps bring some insight and wit to readers.

So....welcome and thanks for reading.