Fun Updates: car, crafts, and cats!

So a lot of smaller, but not insignificant, things have been going on. Thus it’s time for an update post! I’ve been wanting to blog more, but having a hard time finding anything I feel like you all would want to read about at any length. So, for the time being, currently and update posts might just be what happen. If you follow me on other platforms you might know of some of these — and heck, have probably seen some of the pictures.

With the third roommate moved out, and my other roommate and I rearranging most of the apartment, I finally have a little gaming/streaming corner. I moved my big antique writing desk into my room, and then got a basic ikea desk for the PC. There’s not as much room, because it’s not as deep, but it works well for this. I have a privacy screen to block off the rest of the living room, a lot of fun decor, and the cats have their own space as well. It’s a really good use of the space.

With my room being rearranged, I have more wall area to cover — because apparently I can’t have blank empty walls — so I made this moon phase wall hanging based off of one I liked on etsy. Rather than spening $40+, I saved a ton and kind of like it a little more because it’s something I made. I want to replace the dowel for a driftwood stick, which my roommate said she’d bring back for me when she visits Michigan… but overall I think it turned out well. I still need to adjust the left side a little with the length of the twine… but still not a bad job.

Maybe the big thing… I got a new car!! Back in March, my mom gave me her Honda Civic. It was a nice car — older for sure, a 2003, but she was the only owner. Well, after my grandma died, I was driving her dog down to Kentucky to her new home, and got into an accident. Essentially, because of the car’s age and mileage, it totaled the car. All cosmetic. Muffy and I were fine… Well, I had a minor concussion and some temporary nerve problems in my arms. It was just really disappointing, though, to have the car for 2 weeks — it wasn’t even in my name yet — and then that happened. I could have lived with the cosmetic issues… but the driver’s side door lock pins were misaligned, thus making it super frustrating to unlock. It was the base model, so no keyless entry either. Honestly, that is the main reason why I wanted a new car.

So, after looking for a while, I actually found a Fiat I liked that was a good deal. From there the dealer and I found a Mazda3 hatchback that I fell in love with. I even put money down on it. But because of my student loans and graduating soon, we couldn’t find a good point for financing it that I was really comfortable with. Yes, I could afford the car and the payments, but it was at the very top of my budget. So, the dealer did some talking and negotiating on my behalf… and we found that beauty. My new-to-me 2012 Nissan Versa hatchback.  She has great mileage, fuel economy, and is very roomy. We’re actually a two-Nissan Versa hatchback household now, as my roommate has a silver 2014 Note (that she got after totaling her previous car). So, yeah, the universe has a bit of a sense of humor.

I haven’t streamed recently — it’s still part of my fall goals — but I have been very active on Twitch. I’m a mod for a couple partnered streamers, and one has been doing front page stuff recently, so it’s been keeping me a little busy. But I love it. The community is great and it’s been a lot of fun hanging out with online friends.

I know I mentioned that I have been dating around a bit this summer… Well. I turned off all the notifications from the dating apps recently and not because of lack of options or anything. Not going to say much, but I’m excited to see where this goes.

Also, look at Tuija with her new toys. All food based, because of course. Not shown is the fish taco one she absolutely loves to kick around all over the house.

How are things with all of you? What’s going on in your lives? Any new updates?

And then things came tumbling down

I remember the sense of pride that came with grad school. The warm and electrifying confidence that came when theories began to make sense, or two theories clicked with each other, or with a method. I remember that kind of selfish, and not so humble feeling of “oh man, I am smart” when you’re able to express and expound upon those connections and revelations. I remember the sense of camaraderie, trying to slug through dense texts — only later to have to attempt to suss out something that resembled a well thought out paper on said dense texts. Or at least, I think I remember those feelings…

For a little over a month now, everything’s been a little numb. I try not to feel much of anything any more. Maybe some boredom here and there. It’s a self-preservation thing. Often, I don’t even realize I’ve gone into this mode.

Though this part of it started mid-February, it seems the pieces really go back further.

If we look way back, maybe this all started with “the incident.” When I was harassed, followed, closed in my own office, and then followed more, all by one of my colleagues in the graduate program. We were only a couple weeks into our first semester. The whole thing triggered something deep in me, and it took months, with help of a therapist, friends, and a trusted mentor, before I felt safe on campus again. It was definitely a set back, but one I felt I overcame.

But really, I think this started a couple months after that. As much as this is a story about my mental health, it’s also a story about chronic illness. I don’t exactly remember when it happened, maybe November, but my endometriosis became bothersome. Bothersome… I missed classes. I missed work. But I guess it didn’t feel too out of the ordinary. This is just life with endometriosis.* However, my bothersome condition was not convenient for the job I was working at the library. In December, after missing more shifts, I lost my job. It sucked, but I thought maybe I should just focus on school and I’d figure the work thing out later. Maybe this summer when I would be out of money again. I finished the term, an outside of needing an extension on a couple papers for my bio anth course, things went really well. Hell, I gave an amazing presentation on agency theory and postmolds and felt on top of the world.

Yet, as the second term started, my health began to be bothersome again. Whenever I’m due for my next Depo shot, the medication I’m on to control my endometriosis symptoms, I generally feel like crap for the week before the new shot. However, this time it started a little earlier. And I ended up being out the entire week I was waiting for my next injection. When I tried to come back, nothing had improved. I finally made it on campus one Tuesday, but only for about an hour before I was sobbing in pain at my desk. I eventually gathered myself up enough to go tell my professors I wouldn’t be in class today. As I was crying in the office door way, one of my professors quickly stated that we should talk soon, and that I should really, really consider a medical withdrawal from the semester, as she didn’t believe I could pass this semester.

Here’s the thing with depression and pain: when you’re dealing with one, the other is significantly more bothersome. That word again. Bothersome. So as she’s explaining this to me, I panic and make myself freeze so I don’t have to process what she’s saying. As soon as I am out of sight of any other people, I lose it. I remember driving home from campus, more upset about the possibility of having to quit the semester than from the pain I was experiencing physically. My professor wanted me to take time to seriously think it over. When I got home, I talked to my dad and stepmom. I was too afraid to talk to my mom. I talked to a few of my gaming friends. If my professor had already decided that she didn’t think I could pass my classes at this point, how could I? Before the end of the day, I’d made an appointment with the appropriate office on campus to fill out the paperwork.

And that was it. Six weeks into the semester and it was all over. This same week, though, my stepmom’s father passed away. I also hit a pothole pretty damn hard, and was worried I messed up something on my axel or alignment. It was after my brother and I came home from the funeral we discovered something had broke in the power steering fluid line. If you’ve never driven a car without power steering, I highly do not recommend it. Not unless you have Hulk strength and no chronic pain.

So in the scope of a week, I lost my school and my car. All of this after loosing my job — just another job I couldn’t hold. And long before that, my self confidence and the physical desire to be in a relationship. All I could see before me was wreckage of my life, all caused by my body — all of it just out of my control.

When I finally talked to my mom a week later, I was sort of surprised how supportive she was. For a long time, I felt like she just didn’t understand this condition I was attempting to live with. For a long time, I’ve felt like such a failure. Since my initial hospitalization, I haven’t really held a job. I had one for a while, but I’m pretty sure the real reason I was let go was due to the fact that I didn’t want to switch to a cheaper insurance plan. In that job, I was let go a month after my surgery, for “budgetary” reasons. Through all this failure as an adult, I’ve continually heard my mom’s sighs, her constant worry about my lack in ability to care for myself financially. I didn’t want to tell her about yet another failure. However, not being in grad school is a big thing, and I knew she’d find out eventually. I mean, she lives 15-20 minutes away and just one simple “how was class” or “what did you do today” would reveal it all. But as we sat at the kitchen table, not really looking at each other, she was calm. As I made disparaging jokes about myself and how can’t do anything right, she just corrected me that this is all just something in my body that I have no control over. And that maybe now is the time to get it taken care of.

That’s sort of the plan now. To take care of everything. I’ve seen two specialists now. Well, had introductory meetings with them. Those doctors’ appointments where the only thing that really happens is you plan more doctor’s appointments. You spend more time waiting than you do with the doctor themselves. So I’m just in this weird in-between place. I have no school, no job, no car, and no definite plans for treatment yet.

Even after the health stuff gets taken care of — whatever that ends up meaning — I’m still not sure where I go from here. Withdrawing 6 weeks into the semester meant messing up my financial aid. I now owe a little over $1300 to pay back the loans from this semester. Unlike other school loans where you get 6 months after you finish to pay them back, this one is due immediately. Between my health and my car, I still can’t work. So, I’m not sure how any of that is going to resolve itself. I just know that if it doesn’t, I can’t register for Fall classes. So while I might finally get some relief regarding my health once we finalize some aggressive treatment plans, I may have just given up any ability to finish my Masters. All of this because I just didn’t have the energy to prove that professor wrong, that I could still bounce back this semester and pass.

There’s too much to feel, and quiet honestly, when I make myself look at it all, I just don’t know how to cope. So I let myself become numb. I know wherever I land, I’ll figure things out, but I just can’t let myself think of that yet. Can’t let myself acknowledge that any part of what I was working so hard towards might be over. The only thing I can cling to now, is that I finally have insurance and can finally see doctors. It’s one of the only good things I’ve got right now.

* And that’s a sort of thing on it’s own… lack of some pathology reports, and now I have one doctor saying I don’t officially have a diagnosis… It’s just another thing I don’t want to think about too much right now.

New Year Focuses for 2017

As I mentioned, I’m not so great with goals. So as I look towards this new year, yeah, I’m a little hesitant. However, new year new better me!

I’ve got to admit it’s a good time to reflect on things, decide what will be your priorities, if there are any new things you want to learn or try or see, and just be revitalized about life in general. So that’s what I’ve been doing the last week or so. That, and trying to straighten out my thesis topic so I can get rolling on my proposal. Anyway.

So here’s what’s been on my mind regarding 2017.

I want to get better at food photography, specifically with my iPhone. Weird ambition, maybe, but when your research revolves around food, sort of important. Or at least could be greatly beneficial. This probably means I need cook more interesting foods so I can practice. If you want to keep up with my progress there, even if just to send the occasional bit of encouragement, I’ve been using #savvyspork on instagram.

Which, I should get a chance given that, at least for January, I plan on doing Meat Free Mondays. Campaigns like this have been embraced by a lot of people and various countries — Meat Free Mondays is something Paul McCartney and his daughters have been supporting and promoting for a while now. It’s supposed to be better for the environment, as well as, of course, better for me. It’s kind of funny that a few years ago I was trying to make a conscious effort to add meat to my diet because my B12 levels are terrible, but now I’m looking to add more variety to my protein sources. (Though B12 is still a big concern.) Just committing to January for now, but if it goes well, I’d like to continue it.

I want to give my thought to my wardrobe. As much as I love my hoodies and leggings, and it’s easy to just dress comfy while being a full-time student, I’d like to maybe figure out what it means to dress like a 30-something year old. I’m not talking like professional or anything business-y, but more like that lady’s got her shit together. Good outfits can help build confidence, and that’s something I’m definitely interested in.

Something I did two years ago was a little project I called 150 Days of Happiness. It was just in my personal journal, and the only stipulations were that once a day, for 150 days, I would write down one good thing from the day. Some days I had more than one good thing, but others it wasn’t necessarily easy. However, after 150 days of proactively reflecting on positive aspects in my life, well, simply said, it felt good. So I was thinking of maybe trying 365 days. Once a day, either in my normal journal or separate small notebook, record one positive thing from my day for the entire year. Given everything going on, a little additional positive thinking can’t hurt.

Most importantly, I want to focus on strength. Not just physical strength, though eating better and being more active is definitely something I need to continue to be proactive about. A query from my recent reading was “what would you do if you were not afraid?” It’s something I’m continuing to reflect on. I want to grow in my confidence. I want to make sure I take care of myself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I want to tap into that well of strength deep inside me and be a tenacious and formidable force of joy and confidence, as well as attempt for grace and compassion. Do I have any idea of how I’m actually going to accomplish this? Not a one! But I think between looking for the positive in each day and being proactive about just simply taking care of myself — even if that means curling up under blankets and watching netflix all day with the cats — it’ll all add up in the end.

So what are you focusing on or hoping for this new year?

Also, if you’re reading from an RSS reader or other aggregator thing, you should click through to see the new site design! For the first time in a few years, I’ve decided to update the look of the blog. (And if you notice any errors or weird spots, let me know. I didn’t have any other screens to beta test it before it went live.)

I’m too old for this.

The semester ends in a week. Despite a hiccup, and the usual endo stuff that plagues me, it’s mostly gone well. Lately, though, I’ve noticed something. I’m kind of exhausted hanging out with all these young kids.

Granted, I will give you that the fatigue from my endo and anxiety hasn’t helped either. But being around people, no matter how mature or how nice, who average 8-12 years younger than you? It wears on you a little. I don’t mean that as any offense to any of my colleagues at school. But it is true. I actually talked to one of my professors about it, how I feel I have more in common with them than people in my cohort.

Some of that, yes, comes down to maturity. We may have common interests — even youthful common interests like comics or gaming — but it’s the life experiences that make the difference. There’s a lot more drama in your 20s than one really realizes. At least not until you’re out of it. It’s not even necessarily a bad thing, either. In your 20s, you’re learning how to be an adult, learning how to be on your own, typically for the first time. For most, all you’ve ever known is home and school. And suddenly here you are thrust out on your own trying to decide what it is you’re doing with your life. Somehow you’re expected to figure out your entire career path — that you should be able to have your life sorted out by the time you declare a major. These sort of expectations aren’t helpful and cause a lot of stress. That’s all just part of becoming an adult. There’s nothing wrong with it.

However, I went through all that. It’s not that I don’t have sympathy for what they’re going through, or anything. It’s just that I’m so over the drama. Things change in your 30s. I don’t want to be dragged into petty arguments over hurt feelings. It’s not that I don’t care, but at the risk of sounding heartless they aren’t things that deserve too much of my energy. Being surrounded by people, day in day out, who are around a decade younger than me, those behaviors and attitudes are starting to rub off.

I know I sound incredibly whiny in all of this. But I miss talking with people who are dealing with full careers, buying houses, getting annoyed by bills, and maybe even starting a family (by whatever means they define that). I want to hang out with people who don’t think it’s lame to go to bed at 10pm or spend an entire day in pajamas reading books with my cats. Things are different for me because I live here. I may move after graduation for a job or PhD, but I don’t go home on holidays because this apartment is my home. My parents’ homes haven’t been my home in a long time, even if I do visit every now and then.

I’m an independent adult, who misses talking with other independent adults about adult-y things. I feel like parents can understand this. You spend all day with the kids and sometimes forget what it’s like to have a conversation and interactions with people our own age. There’s nothing wrong with having friends of mixed ages, but I think it needs to be a balance. Right now, my scale’s tipped and it’s slightly wearing me thin.

Things they don’t tell you about getting older…

One of the fun things about returning back to school has been that apparently I’ve become one of those sneaky old people. After talking with me, people start to realize that I’m on the older end of the spectrum for grad students — however, most people put me at 26-28 at most. My cousin had a similar problem as she finished up her degree; we chalked it up to good genes, though maybe a lot had to do with my mild lifestyle? No smoking, barely drinking. Regardless, I’ve been able to blend in a bit better than I thought with my much younger academic colleagues.

As I look at the differences between us, see some of the different places we are in our lives, I realized there a good deal they don’t tell you about getting older. Here’s some of the stuff I’ve figured out:

» You seem to worry less, or at least, your worries get new focuses and you have better ownership over what fucks you give. Now, this does affect everyone differently because anxiety and depression are real things and will never just magically disappear even as you settle into adulthood. But I’ve found that I’m definitely not stressed about the same things and it seems like all that drama from my younger life just doesn’t have a hold over me.

» You do need friends your own age. This is nothing against my new college friends, however, our life experiences are just different. I’ve had 8 years out, worked on my career, and was more or less a self-sufficient mostly-functioning adult. And though yes, I’m back in school again and making a big career change, I’ve got that maturity established. I’ve kind of missed having other adults as friends. Right now that’s really only being filled by my online friends. Eventually I’ll figure out how to connect with other adults here in the area, if you know, I figure out where to find them.

» “Adult” does not mean old and boring. This should be pretty obvious. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you have to give up all your “youthful” loves. I’m what you describe as a “grown-ass woman” and I still love comics and video games — and I have that love proudly displayed around my home.

» Unless you get a kickass, well-paying job, the easiest way to set up an “adult” home is slowly, piece by piece. Heck, even if you do have a kickass, well-paying job, probably better budget-wise to do it a little more piecemeal anyway. Things I’ve found that help make a home feel more adult: framed pictures or art on the walls, and curtains. Posters up on the wall kind of has that dorm room feel, but you put things in frames? It’s art then. Curtains help make spaces feel less temporary. I’ve also found that I’m slowly replacing all my IKEA stuff with inherited pieces. Or, ok, I’m getting rid of the cheap looking IKEA stuff — you know what I mean, all my LACK stuff. Their furniture is great, especially when you’re in that transitional phase into adulthood. But it’s nice to slowly level up into the higher quality pieces. (Which, IKEA does carry.)

» Your body will go through another shift when you get in your 30s. Maybe it’s a metabolism shift or whatever, but you kind of don’t bounce back like you used to. Also, weight loss is definitely different as you get older — which, I actually did learn from my mom.

» Ladies: you will pee a little when you sneeze or cough hard. No one, absolutely no one told me this until after it started happening. It’s not an every time sort of thing, but it does indeed happen. When I talk to women older than myself about it, they just laugh and say that’s what liners are for! Ugh. (Apparently this happens when you’re pregnant, too…) Just, you know, be aware that this happens.

» Also Ladies: there is no cut-off age for shopping in the junior’s section… however, there is a slow shift in how others see you there. We’ve all seen that woman who just seems a bit too old to be rocking the juniors tops and jeans… even if they fit. Those looks you get from other shoppers (mainly the actual teenagers) start slowly. Now. You do you and shop wherever you like… but I’ve found my best bet is hitting all the areas: juniors, misses, and women. Thankfully at places like Target, they just really blend in to each other. Or hitting stores that don’t really break it down like that, and are subsequently more adult than not: like H&M or even Old Navy. (I miss H&M. Maybe it’s time for a trip to Indy.)

» The big one: There is no one right way to be an adult. It’s easy to compare other people’s journeys — I’m guilty of it! — but their path is not your path.

There’s probably even more that I’m missing. But some of these things it’s just nice to have a heads up on. What are some of the untold lessons you’ve learned about becoming an adult? What do you wish they would have told you?

Facing my sibling envy

Two weeks ago (ish) one of my younger sisters sent us the message that she and her husband were expecting their first child. I completely hate admitting it, but my first reaction wasn’t joy. My heart sank a little. I was jealous.

I’m one of 6 children. My brother and I are from my dad’s first marriage (and our mom’s only), and my four younger sisters are from his second. There’s 11 years between myself and my next youngest sister — the one who’s married and expecting. I’ve never been particularly close with any of my sisters, one of the issues of our age differences — but with this sister, we never really had a good relationship. It’s better now, but we’re not close. Only 2 years between me and my older brother, who has 3 children. It didn’t really bug me when my brother got married or had kids. My eldest niece is 11 — I was a college junior in China when she was born. It was one of those things that, you know, I was on the path to as well. I mean, I was 21 and getting ready to start my adult life, surely that would include settling down and having my own kids, right?

At 32… None of that has happened. I don’t have a career, per say. I don’t have kids. I don’t even have a relationship (and haven’t in years). And here is my little sister, married before she graduated college (in 3 years, no less), and now with a baby on the way. She has the life I thought I would have, the life I thought I wanted.

Do I want a family? Yeah. But is my life lacking because I’m childless and single? Far from it. When I actually stop and look at it. I have a pretty amazing life. I went from college to Chicago, made friends and traveled a lot — had so many adventures with Mucca. And now I’m on a totally new journey through grad school and looking at phD programs. There’s also the issue that I have endometriosis. I’m considering a pretty drastic route for my treatment, and there will be no getting pregnant in my future. That part of my life might not be awesome, but it’s just a fact of my life. But when I’m being honest with myself, I’ve never been excited about infants (or the idea of being responsible for one 24/7) — adoption was always an option.

Sibling envy is a really easy trap to fall into, and it’s quick to turn into sibling resentment. I hear it sometimes when I talk about school and such, and my brother is quick to point out all the things he has and salary he makes without having gone to college. It’s not that he wants me to feel bad, but he wants to reassure himself that his life also has value. In all these comparisons, it’s easy to feel like one person’s route is merely just an attempt to be better than the rest. I’m not going to grad school because I think I’m better or smarter than my siblings. I’m doing it because it’s right for my life and I love it. My little sister isn’t married or having kids before me out of any spite or notion or consideration to me, really, because it’s what’s right for her life.

I love my siblings, and I am very happy for all of them and their journeys. I hope they are for me as well. We may be blood, but we are 6 very different and individualized people. Our paths are bound to be unique. Things will happen at different times or not at all. We’ll end up in various places. So while I might still feel a bit of a pang for the life I once thought I’d have, I can’t let that blind me to the joy that my actual life has. Or from being happy for my sister during a momentous time of her life.

That time I got roommates…

I’ve had roommates in the past. Unfortunately, I’ve had bad roommates in the past. So for the last 5-6 years, I’ve lived alone. Just me and the cats. And it’s worked out fairly well. (Albeit a little costly at times since my income, or lack thereof, was responsible for everything.) However, this past semester, while working in our archaeology lab, one of my peers who I’d been getting to know mentioned that she and her current roommate were trying to find a place to stay this summer and not having much luck. So I casually mention that if they can’t find a place, I’ve got a spare room I could rent out, as long as they liked cats.

Within a few weeks it was locked down. I was getting roommates for the summer. Little hermit me, in my 30s, would now be living with two 20-year-old undergrads, one of whom I’d never really met.

It actually started out quite smoothly. Mostly just a lot of “where does this go?” type of stuff. But that was also because only one of the girls had moved in, and it was the one I already knew. The other was off in Europe on a trip. So for the first few weeks, the two of us got into a rhythm and it was working out well. When our second roommate came back — a few days early, sort of short notice of “oh, btw I’m going to move in tonight in a few hours!” (which she only sent to our other roommate, and gave me no notice of) — well, needless to say it threw things off.

Communication has definitely been something we’re trying to work on. Ok. It’s something we’re needing to work on. There’s been a handful of times when the second roommate has kept me out of the loop, not intentionally, but still. Those two have been roommates for two years and are used to each other. However, when 2 to possible 4 people “have” to stay the night at our place it would be nice for a bit more than a few days heads up. (Not to mention just checking with us in the first place to make sure that it’s ok for people to stay over. This has happened twice.)

For the most part, everything else has been small things that are just little peeves of mine. Having most of my tupperware being used. The bathmat being wet and gross after showers. Not leaving the water drip for the cats. Not refilling the toilet paper when it’s gone or leaving only 2-3 squares for the next person. Leaving lights on, especially in the bathroom so I can’t tell if they’re done and it’s ok for me to go in. Never washing dishes. Ok. So the last two are legit complaints. And the later actually has been dealt with and taken care of. We’re also needing to work on the fact that one person has never taken out the trash since she moved in. And using my spices/oils and not telling me when they’re empty.

Like. Ok. I know it sounds like I’m complaining about this one roommate a lot. And I honestly don’t mean to. One of my goals is trying to be more flexible and understanding. (Though when it came to money things, it was hard. Life lesson: if you owe someone money for rent and utilities, don’t go out and buy an expensive cookbook and then the next day say you have no money to your name.) However, these two girls are adults. They’re 20. All of this is a good lesson in adulting. And while I’m not responsible for parenting them or getting them to be adults… I don’t want to walk on eggshells because it might upset them or anything. Personal histories and issues and mental-wellbeing aside, at some point you sort of do have to suck it up and realize you live with other people and it’s not always going to be easy or fun. There’s common courtesies that apply.

The roommate that I know best is leaving today for three-ish weeks to be with her family at their cabin. So, it’s going to be interesting just having the other one around with me. Communication is going to have to happen. (Especially because she doesn’t drive. So if she wants a ride to campus or the grocery store or wherever, she’s going to have to ask.) It’ll be interesting to see how this all goes. I’m hoping I won’t upset her too much because if there’s an issue I’ll likely just be blunt about it.

So while this hasn’t necessarily been the easiest thing, it been fairly nice over all. We sometimes cook for each other. It’s been nice having people to talk to. (Though I will admit sometimes I do just need alone time. I am still a slight hermit after all. This summer has been crazy social for me.) The cats like them. And it’s also nice to have a slight break on rent. (I unfortunately didn’t think everything through when I made the offer to them, so I’m actually paying $100 more than both of them combined.) Given how my financial situation worked out this summer, I don’t think I could have made it had I not had their help covering costs.

We’ll see how it goes by the end of the summer. Hopefully we’ll all still like each other. And, even more so, hopefully we’ll work out a lot of these issues in compassionate ways. Maybe by mid-August the cats and I will end up missing them. Who knows.

Admitting that I’ve been “meal-ing” wrong

I love to cook. That’s not a surprise or shocker to anyone. It’s probably one of my favorite passion-hobbies. However, just because I love to make food doesn’t mean I’m any good at putting together a meal.

Ok. That’s a lie. I am amazing at putting together a meal. I’m just terrible at remembering to do so.

I’m not sure if it’s years of studio kitchens, fluctuating (sometimes unreliable) income, or just outright laziness… but for way too long, I have rarely put together a proper meal. More often than not, my “meals” just consist of one dish. Pretty much just a life of entrees only. Yeah, sometimes you can do that and it’s all fine. But it’s really not a good way, or necessarily healthy way, to eat — let alone live. Mac & cheese is great and all, and I love making it from scratch, but it’s kind of a really boring meal all on it’s own.

Slowly and surely, I’ve been trying to retrain myself to not just stop at the entree but to remember the glory that are side dishes. Even if it’s just adding a salad.

Burrito & Enchilada night

Ok. So I didn’t add any salads or vegetables with that meal. Mostly because it was from the dinner where my eldest niece and and sister number 3 were visiting — neither really have much interest in green stuff if they have a choice in the matter. Since we were all making dinner together, I decided not to push it. But, we at least did have some beans & cheese and some Mexican rice on the side. As well as the chips and salsa (aka sneaky veggie dip).

Dinner with the roommates

This meal was a bit more rounded. And super simple. Garlic butter chicken and veggies (thanks Campbell’s sauce packs!) and a salad. And of course a side of bread and butter because that’s just what you do in the S. family. This meal was a big hit too. Which I sort of chuckled at because I didn’t think it was my best — and also I really didn’t have to do much (if any) work thanks to my crockpot. But the summer roommates (more on that in another post) loved it. Compared to dorm food, though, well, that’s not too hard.

Anyway. While I am doing this largely because I need to be better at adding more veggies into my life, it’s also because it’s a fun challenge. Trying to create a good flavor balance while also being maybe a tiny bit healthy. Maybe. I’ve also found that when I actually have more than just one dish for a meal, it makes me feel like a real adult. So bonus there.

What about you? Are you more likely to have one-dish or entrees & sides sort of meals? Do you have a go-to?

That time I realized how easy it is to make pizza dough

For some people, this isn’t surprising. In fact, it might be second nature. Like for my younger sisters, for instance. Years of weekly pizza nights have made it so my sisters can make pizza dough without even thinking about looking up the recipe. I don’t know if they’re actually still keeping with the Friday night tradition — it was definitely not something I grew up with — but regardless, I’m sure they could just as easily make that dough like nothing had changed.

Anyway. For me pizza either comes frozen or via delivery guy (or waitstaff). Like many things, I’d been curious about making my own pizza. However, I wanted to find a faster way. Also, a yeast-less way because yeast is not something I keep in my home.

A few google searches later, and I found myself with a recipe that touted no yeast and only 15 minutes prep. I was sold.

Yeast-less Pizza Dough
2 ¼ cups of flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 cup milk (almond milk, in my case)
¼ cup room temperature butter

» Blend all the ingredients together into a giant dough ball, roll it out, and bake at 450º for 10-12 minutes or so.

See, super simple. The only issues I had is that my lovely Ninja blender and it’s dough blade didn’t really work to mix everything together. It sort of did, but not really… I basically just ended up mixing by hand. I’m not sure I had enough salt (and really I should have blended the dry ingredients a bit better first), and I don’t know if the butter got blended all the way through. I think next time I might make it a bit more melty. Also, I don’t have a rolling pin, so I improvised with an old water bottle…

All in all, it didn’t turn out too bad…

Yeastless homemade pizza

Not the best picture, but well. It wasn’t the best pizza either. The dough tasted like homemade dough rather than really nice pizza dough. I’m tempted to add some spices and stuff, melty butter, etc. to give it more flavor next time. Also, as I didn’t have pizza sauce, I just used some spaghetti sauce. I did at least have mozzarella… but my pepperoni had gone bad.

It wasn’t bad. Wasn’t great. I’m mostly going to chalk this one up to the fact that I do not bake — I don’t even have a full set of measuring utensils. So maybe it’ll turn out better next time. I’m sure it’s a good recipe and all just human error.

Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

adulting goals: MASH

Man, I don’t know what it is, but you hit 31 and almost a half and all of a sudden your mind is just swarmed with all these adulting things. You’re thinking homes and home repair, long term career goals, kids and family, and even all the way down to planning activities for those kids and family and career and home you don’t have yet.

Or at least that’s been the case with me. Like, totally completely. I mean, it’s not necessarily too surprising. We do think about these things from an early age. Remember MASH?

MASH_jamiesrabbitsphoto via flickr

What was it: Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House? Yeah. That “predictive” game where you divined out your future. Where you’d live, how many kids you’d have, what kind of car, what kind of career, what kind of salary you’d make, who you’d marry… I mean, it could figure out anything. You’d load up the list with super awesome choices — the hottest guys, the coolest cars, the most prestigious careers — and also with some duds. Then as you made your way through the list, you hoped beyond hope for all those super awesome choices.

It was all superficial. … Now, the superficial things on my list, well, they’re of a different scale.

Home:
» Dishwasher
» Decent sized kitchen; enough storage and counter space to work
» Hardwood floors (at least in main living areas)
» Soaking tub
» Reasonable utility bill
» Windows that aren’t ground level with the road/alleys, or look directly into another building a few feet away
» Non-annoying neighbors
» A good spot for the litter box
» Preferences: Cottage or craftsman; 2-3 bedroom; doesn’t need to be “big” at all

Career:
» Room for growth
» Allows me to be curious/continue to learn
» Good coworkers
» Good health insurance & benefits
» Preferences: museum collections or education or curation; professor

Family:
» Healthy, supportive, and understanding
» Love each other even when we might not like each other
» An affordable and non-complicated adoption
» Preferences: girl aged 2-4; spouse ?

Car:
» FWD or AWD
» Good fuel economy
» Will last for years
» Preferences: something better (exponentially) than the Lancer; Mini Countryman, Nissan Juke … quite honestly, it’s hard to have real opinions about this because I’m increasingly less picky as I just want something that’ll last for a while. Do I prefer certain cars over others? Yeah. But really it’s just about what’s going to be reliable and within budget.

I think one of the big things with adulting is not necessarily learning to make do, but that a lot of things that we relate to status and whatnot in our culture don’t actually matter. There are many other ways of finding and maintaining happiness outside of those things. Some of that’s how you measure success. I don’t need some six figure career or anything like that. I don’t need some massive house and some spectacular curb appeal yard. I’m not wanting some picture perfect family. Heck, not even a picture perfect life. They’re not realistic.

Adulting, well, for me it seems to be about the simple things. With the few particular requests thrown it. And mainly just ones that either make things a little easier (dishwasher) or a little comfortable (soaking tub). I don’t need those things and can live without them quite happily, but I’d enjoy those perks.

What’s on your adulting lists? Any surprises from what a younger you might have wanted?