Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Now Three Weeks Late....

My beloved sister Kate came into town two weeks ago for a wedding.  It was the loveliest wedding, too.  The bride has been taking African dance lessons for many years and many of the drummers attended the wedding.  Instead of any traditional dances (first dance, parent/child, etc.), the DJ stopped spinning music and the drummers set up and started playing.  If you've ever heard a troupe of African drummers expertly playing, you know that it's virtually impossible NOT to dance.  Margot, the beautiful bride, charmed everyone by dancing a traditional dance in her lace gown.  The look of pure exuberance and joy on her face is something I'll never forget.

We all danced all night and it felt fantastic.

The next day Kate and Chris and I went to Crystal Bridges to check out their new State of the Art exhibit.  It was nothing short of incredible and I can't wait to go back, look some more, get a little more engrossed, and revisit my favorites.

Made entirely of cheap romance paperbacks. LOVE!

Crocheted tunnel

some sort of  3d glass masterpiece

Taken in a room entirely covered in mylar.

Our photobooth pics - 3 of the 4 Massey sisters.  I love these!

Beloved brother-in-law Chris with Kate hidden in the back.  After-party at Maxine's Taproom.

Kate and I hiked the Rock City trail - another one I can't wait to return to.  

Monday, September 08, 2014

What Do I Desire?

Okay so here is something good that came out of re-joining Facebook. I saw this graphic representation of one of my favorite old Alan Watts' talks about what we would do if money were no object.

(please click and zoom - ctrl + if you're on a PC too)

I really needed this reminder today. I need it every day. I've been needing a kick in the ass to get out of the thinking phase and into the DOING phase.  I can't keep spending day after day sitting at this computer knowing that it's not where I should be or want to be.  But I'm not exactly using my non-work time to write, like I should be.  Even though I'm not full-time parenting anymore I still feel exhausted and like there aren't enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I had hoped to do.  I fall asleep in my clothes FAR more often than I should admit to.  That's one thing about living with a significant other - at least it propels you to brush your teeth at night and change out of day clothes.  Where am I going with this?

OH YEAH - What I want to be when I grow up.

I guess I'll have to keep you posted...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Attempting Wholeness

Excuse me as I get SUPER DUPER NAVEL GAZE-Y!

Literally.  Although I am not ready to show my navel to the public as of yet.

As I mentioned previously, I have been doing the Whole 30.  Thirty days of eating only whole foods.  I can't recommend it highly enough.  I've tried all sorts of other low carb diets (or "lifestyle plans" as they prefer to be called) but this one really stuck with me.  And I with it.  In fact, I'm on a little furlough right now for pizza and wine but will start another round next Monday.

The results from my first thirty days are:

Down 11.4 lbs on the scale and 7.5 inches, with the most (3 inches) lost off my waist.

I lost the photo I took that was supposed to be my "before" picture (stupid syncing with so many phones/ipads/computers - modern day probs) but this was taken the morning I finished the first round:
This is a size 8 dress.  Wahoo!  No double digits!
Here are examples of the foods I ate the past month:

Salmon cake (made with almond flour instead of bread crumbs) over a green salad and topped with my favorite paleo ranch dressing.

Sole filets, "breaded" in almond flour, seasonings, and ghee, served over a tomato/fennel/onion/garlic/caper saute.

Power Greens salad mix topped with chorizo, mango/avocado salsa and paleo ranch.

Sweet potato oven fries topped with pulled pork, salad of homegrown cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, and basil, avocado and of course that dang ranch dressing

Tilapia with sauteed green beans and fresh garden tomato slices

Chicken thigh over brussels sprouts with crispy bacon, shallots, and balsamic reduction

Zoodles (noodles made from slicing a zucchini with my mandolin slicer) topped with homemade beef ragu sauce, roasted beets, and fresh basil

MY FAVORITE NEW SNACK!! Watermelon with lime juice and cayenne pepper.  Spicy, sweet, juicy, crunchy, and sour all in one bite.  

A little treat - strong coffee, ice cubes, dollop of coconut cream, dash of cinnamon and vanilla all blended together

Another treat - chia seed pudding made with coconut milk, vanilla extract, and fresh peaches

When I craved something sweet I ate fruit.  I highly recommend trying this during the summer when we have tons of fresh fruit.

Roasted garlic rosemary sweet potatoes, sliced roasted beets, pulled pork, big green salad.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pervasiveness - Facebook Chronicles

I rejoined Facebook last night after having left in December, 2011.  More than 3.5 years of doing my own thing and not worrying about what all my 1,2hundredsomething "friends" were up to.

Ugh.  I hate Facebook.  I really do.  I hate how essential it is to most people's lives, particularly social lives.  I hate how it owns all your photos and tracks your every move and targets marketing toward you and seems to replace actual, in-person communication.  I hate how they conduct experiments on its users.  I hate how they change it all the time.

I was pretty happy not being on it and not contributing to the Big Brother-ing of our culture but had an enlightening breakfast with my friend Hannah a few weeks ago.  I was a mess.  I had just learned of my ex and ex-friend's marriage.  I had strep throat.  AND I had a huge work deadline putting a lot of pressure on me.  I was telling Hannah how lonely and pitiful I felt this summer and she very directly told me, "I really think your not being on Facebook contributes to this.  I have to consciously think of you and remember that you're not on it when I'm creating invitations.  I think you just get left out of a lot of things because of it."  Usually I wouldn't mind being "left out" of things, but I know I've missed party and casual get-together invitations because of my absence.  People just use Facebook to replace direct communication, including invites.  It's a sad but true reality.

So I rejoined yesterday.  It's horrifying that Facebook bets on this.  ALL of my old profile popped back up like I hadn't been gone at all.  I saw all these names and posts that I didn't recognize, from years of working with international students.  But there they all were, bombarding me with questions.  I described it as though I'd just woken up and wandered into my living room in my underwear and all my friends were there in the throes of a big party.  I feel exposed and shy and weird.

I haven't been a complete social/technology hermit.  I'm very active on Instagram and Twitter.  But Facebook captures everything, I guess, and being away has made me even more socially awkward and anxious now.

I'm not putting the Facebook app on my phone or accessing it at work.  I'm keeping it at home only so I'm starting out with limited access and expectations.  I only want to use it to reconnect and keep up with old friends.  All those peripheral people who I'd accepted back when I worked with international students and felt bad or bitchy if I declined "friendship?"  If you don't know something personal or intimate about me, then you're getting ditched.  Not in a cruel way, but in a self-protective way.   I only want to interact with the truest of the true friends.

Does IRL (In Real Life) mean anything anymore?  Does it apply to Facebook?  The ubiquity of technology does not have to be a necessary part of life.  Useful, yes.  Necessary?  Perhaps at work.  But I will actively work to keep in-person relationships and communication a priority. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stella left this morning for college (again).  Both of us think this may have been her last summer home but of course we never know.  I moved out at 17, only to find myself living back with my mother ages 28-30.

How redundant I must sound, but this summer has been ROUGH, man.  It's been rough on both of us.  We never really communicated our expectations about this summer to each other and, as a result, both my daughter and I often felt frustrated with each other.  It built up, as did the stress, until the top blew off last night - her last night in town.  Sound familiar?  That pattern is the goddamned blueprint for the worst parts of our relationship.  We both abhor conflict to such a degree that we tamp it down, tamp it down, ignore it, avoid it, and then BOOM!  It blows up in our faces.

So after many tears and a few tense conversations that gradually softened, we were finally able to hug and cry and admit to both of our failings.  She was supposed to leave very early this morning, caravan-ing with a friend who is moving to Durango to live with her and attend community college and her friend's mom.  At least she's not driving 1,000 miles alone, in a car that she's only recently become somewhat comfortable driving.  And never put into 5th gear.  Gulp.  At least she won't be alone.  They finally got on the road after 8am which means they probably won't drive all the way to Colorado tonight and will most likely stop in New Mexico.  We'll see if they listen to me.  My advice was to drive all the way to Albuquerque and stop there, knowing that from the Texas border to ABQ there really isn't much of anything.  Then ABQ is a relatively quick 3.5 hr drive to Durango.  What do I know?  I've only made this drive (wait...counting....) four times in the past few years.

Quick shots from the last drive:

I'm  nearly finished, Day 26 today, with my Whole 30 and I intend to take a quick break for some wine and cheese, maybe an ice cream cone, and then resume a 2nd Whole 30.  It's not so hard, once I got used to it and the benefits are numerous:  more energy, weight loss (13 lbs...and counting!), back pain markedly reduced, no digestion problems.  

If you've read here for a while then you know what a fan I am of film criticism.  In college I would hang out in the periodicals section of the library just reading old Pauline Kael reviews and issues of Film Comment.  Roger Ebert's death hit me hard.  I still keep thinking about how much he would love certain films (such as Boyhood, yes...I'm still deeply in its grasp).  I flirted with film analysis in graduate school and who knows, maybe one day I'll finish that master's degree in something even more useless than an English degree!  Now that we're living in the self-anointed Golden Age of Television, television recaps and reviews are just as interesting to me.  My favorite television critics are Heather Havrilesky, Matt Zoller Seitz, and Alan Sepinwall.  

This is all getting around to admitting that I only recently completed watching what many have described as The Greatest Television Show of All Time - The Wire.  

It's as good as promised.  In fact, as soon as consumed all five seasons, I immediately went back and started re-watching my favorites.  My recent obsession with The Wire (and its actors) led me to two BBC shows, Luther and The Hour.

Idris MF'in Elba.  Handsomest man in the world?  There's a strong argument.  

Luther is silly.  It's predictable and gruesome for the sake of "mood."   But the magnetism of Idris Elba is strong enough that I still watched all three series in like four days.  But oh...so silly.

At first when I started The Hour I, like probably every other American, thought, "Oh.  The British Mad Men."  But it's not exactly.  I love the score - very jazzy and upbeat.  It can be predictable as well, but not in the annoying way Luther can be because it's not trying to be DARK and BROODING.  I'm only three episodes in so far but I'm looking forward to the rest.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SO MANY FEELS (as the kids say)

Yesterday I finished writing that bummer of a blog post, then at work I discovered that I'd possibly made a huge mistake - like potentially several hundred thousands of dollars mistake.  I thought long and hard about calling or emailing my boss to be upfront and tell him but decided to wait, check with another authority, and admit to my mistake today.

I went home, immediately took the dog on a long walk.  Then mowed the yard.  High stress situations always call for immediate physical movement.  Do you do that?  I have to work it out of my system so it's not bouncing around inside my molecules, stirring up nothing but trouble.  Stella suggested we go to the movies.  We decided on Boyhood.  In the car on the way to the movies (she drove, practicing driving her new car - a standard) I learned that Robin Williams killed himself.

I was still processing that news when we sat down for this film.  This film.  Oh...you guys.  Listen to me carefully - THIS IS A PERFECT FILM.

I am a movie fanatic and I am fascinated with filmmaking so I often say I love certain films, but I don't know if I've ever considered a film perfect.  There are many that are close, or possibly perfect (off the top of my head - Chinatown, The Conversation, Manhattan,) but none of those mentioned have the deeply personal, emotional resonance that this one has.  You probably already know the back story - Richard Linklater (long one of my favorite directors.  Did I ever tell you about the time I saw Slacker at its unofficial debut at the Dobie theater on the Drag in 1990?  Everyone in the theater had either been in the film or knew someone in the film.  What fun...) made this film over 12 years using the same actors.  Not only do we viewers watch everyone age but the seamless editing reinforces the theme that time is fleeting.  Blink of an eye.  The film opens with a seven year-old boy and ends with him going to college.  I watched it with my baby who is leaving for college in a week.  This was her last summer home.  I'm welling up right now just thinking about how quickly it passes.

Patricia Arquette is flat-out amazing in this.  Of course I am a single mother and this is a film about a single mother doing her best to raise her kids and improve their lives.  She makes bad choices.  She does her best.  The kids turn out alright.  I don't want to spoil anything if you haven't seen this yet (WHY NOT?? GO!), but there's a scene near the end where the mom has a breakdown because she realizes every milestone she had expected as a  young woman have passed already and there's not much left.  Boy howdy did that hit home, hard, for me.

I read a great interview with Linklater about the film on Roger Ebert's site.  This quote about that scene sums it all up for me:
That’s what makes that last scene with Patricia when he’s leaving kind of poignant. There’s a disconnect. He can’t understand what she’s going through because he hasn’t lived enough years. He can FEEL for her but he can’t fully know. It doesn’t make sense. You have your own emotional and experiential set points.
I have had this experience with her so many times.  I understand what she is going through but there's no way she can understand what I'm going through until she's lived more.  It's one of our single biggest sources of conflict.

Since I had Stella at 20 years old I have just thought, "If she can just go to college."  "Once she's in college, I'll know I've done something right." It was always just looking to this point, this milestone.  Well.  It's here.  It's been here for a year.  AND NOW WHAT?

No.  Seriously.  Now what?

(Oh.  PS - Today I came into work and realized I hadn't made a mistake.  I'm just a high-strung doofus who can't read government websites correctly.

But Robin Williams is still dead.  So there's that.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not So Fun to Read? Not So Fun to Write, Either.

I won't apologize for being gone away from this space for so long.

But I want to.  It's so much in my nature to apologize if I think I've failed others.   That sounds silly - feeling guilty for not writing in my internet journal.  But it's true.

My  heart has been heavy.  But not always, of course.  There have been some sweet, fun experiences this summer.

But it's mostly been a Cruel Summer (cue Bananarama).  My approach to it has been to try, incrementally, to improve things.  Chipping away at that boulder.  What else can we do, right?

So the boulder of health and body and self-image?  I've been doing the Whole 30.  In fact, I'm 20 days into it.  I feel good and want to keep going.  I haven't been drinking alcohol, eating sugar, dairy, or grains of any kind.  I'm hoping that it also helps with inflammatory pain because my back has been terrible lately.

The boulder of career and work and just paying the bills?  Well I work.  This job isn't like my perfect career or anything like that.  I am developing new skills and work with wonderful people, but I know it's not utilizing my gifts and I've had a few experiences where I've felt incompetent and I HATE THAT.  So that boulder is crushing me these days.

The boulder of relationships and personal interaction?  That's been downright shitty.  I've reevaluated some close friendships and have chosen to distance myself from people where the balance of give-take has been off.  And as far as a partner?  Oh, it's been pitiful.  I'm crushed by that boulder on a daily basis.  Whether it's people asking about my dating life, or receiving a text message (YES. TEXT MESSAGE) from my ex telling me he married our mutual friend the weekend before, it's been a lonely, humiliating summer.

But I soldier on because...that's what we do.  One foot in front of the other, one breath after another, being mindful of the small, sweet moments that puncture the haze of depression, fear, self-doubt, and malaise.

I just noticed that twice already I have said that we must go on because we must go on.  This isn't necessarily depression.  I know that darkness intimately.  I've stepped right to the edge and considered what might happen if I were to just check out.  I'm not anywhere close to that.  I hope I never will be again.  I have faith in myself that I'm moving in a good direction.  And I know there's no destination, there's no goal I will attain and think, "Welp.  I'm done.  I've reached the place in my life I'd hoped to reach."  That never happens, does it?

I mean, it's silly, really.  It's silly that I'm all bent out of shape because I don't have a boyfriend and I'm not happy in my job.  There is so much goodness all around - growing garden, good friends, my daughter achieving things she's wanted to achieve, family I love, cute pets, a house and neighborhood that delight, frustrate, and entertain me constantly.  MY OWN FOOL BRAIN that I love (not always) for generating ideas and keeping me company forever.  Tormenting me some, naturally, - but what is love without some torment?

I'll be writing more.  I must.