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26 November 2008

Damnit,Thanksgiving!

It's officially the holidays. The store has been playing Christmas music for a few weeks now, and there is a radio station that plays non-stop Christmas music. Don't get me wrong. I love the holidays. It's just that is starts earlier every year. It seems that Veteran's Day is the official beginning of the Christmas season this year.

This will be the fourth (or is it fifth?) year that I've been away for Thanksgiving.  The holidays are a pretty big deal in my family. Specifically with my mom. She's goes a little crazy, but that is what makes it so fun. The family all gets together and eats and laughs and fights and makes-up and eats some more. This year I won't be going home for Christmas. Right now, I'm okay with it. Of course, as the holiday gets closer, I'm pretty sure it will be a bit more difficult. It started to hit me this evening when I was driving home from LL's after feeding her kitties. But, like a trooper, I held it together. 

I figure that on this Thanksgiving Eve, it is an appropriate time to recall the blessings of my life. So, here goes ...

I'm thankful for The Boy. He makes me happy and contributes to my health through good food and healthy cooking. He makes me laugh and comforts me in times of struggle. He loves me and supports me, and makes my life better simply by being in it.

I am thankful for my friends. The real ones. Not the casual ones who stop and say "hi" in a crowded hallway, but the ones that really understand me and all my weirdness. They are always there to cheer me on and talk me down, whatever is necessary. Weeks and months can go by without contact and it's like not a moment has passed. I'm thankful for their understanding and their friendship. They truly make life easier.

I'm thankful for my family. Specifically my mom and dad. They truly are the best parents one could ever want. They are loving and supportive and generous. They are my best friends. I know that, no matter what, they have my back. I feel so lucky to have such a close and loving family. Sure, we fight and argue and bicker, but I know that we're always there for each other.

I am thankful for my jobs and the roof over my head. They may not be the greatest, but they keep me dry, fed, warm, and busy. They provide my with health insurance that eases many a burden on my person. 

I am thankful for B. Even when she drives me absolutely insane, she still makes me laugh and loves me unconditionally. She's always happy to see me and never fights with me. It may be trivial, but her unconditional love is all that gets me through the day sometimes!

I'm thankful for my journey of faith. I'm thankful that the past year has brought me to a close personal relationship with God that fills me with hope and faith and a calmness that my life has always lacked. Attending the mass each week and praying gives me focus and forces me to acknowledge all the good in my life when it is easy to focus on the bad. It actually takes some of the gravity away from Thanksgiving because I readily thank God for my blessings. Tomorrow just allows me to focus longer on those blessings.

I am thankful for the Queen of the West Bank's recovery. She scared us for a while, but she's back and that's awesome. 

I am thankful that my dad is healthy. The thought of losing him terrified me beyond words, and I'm so thankful that he is healthy and strong again. 

I am thankful for all of the possibilities of the future. The good things haven't come yet, but I know that, whatever comes, I can deal with it and make it work. 

There are so many other things I am thankful for. Baby Sawyer being brought into this world, healthy and strong, growing like a weed every day. My wonderful Boston family and all their quirkiness and tradition. The new pregnancy of my best friend and his wife, despite the fact that they are in Germany and I rarely see them. The recent reconnections from days gone by that make me happy and reminiscent and eager to foster those friendships. 

I think that I am most thankful for the blessings that came in disguise. The blessings that seemed like curses that somehow worked out. Not in the way that I had planned but made me better off because of them. 

Happy Thanksgiving!

23 November 2008

The Boy's Birthday Meal

Appetizer - Chevre stuffed figs in Prosciutto

Take twelve golden dried figs and cut a small slit in the top. Fill the opening with chevre and the wrap the fig in thinly sliced Prosciutto. Bake in the oven at 350 for 12 minutes. While the figs are baking, bring two cups of balsamic vinegar to a boil in a saucepan until it reduces. When the figs are done, arrange on a platter and drizzle the balsamic reduction over their tops.

Salad - Reconstructed Pear Salad

Mix fresh spinach leaves, roasted pecans and chevre with apple cider vinaigrette (one part apple cider vinegar, three parts olive oil, salt and pepper and garlic powder to taste). Let set for twenty minutes to allow flavors to combine. Take two whole smooth-skinned pears and cut into four horizontal slices. Core the center, but leave the stem intact. Reconstruct the pear by placing the bottom slice on the serving plate and placing a small portion of the salad atop it. Place the next pear layer on top of the salad and add another small portion of salad. Continue until the pear is reconstructed. Finish the salad by drizzling honey over the top. 

Main Course - Ginger Maple Syrup Glazed Porkchops

Chop medium onion and mince fresh ginger root. Saute onion for ten minutes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add ginger. Let cook for three more minutes. Remove from heat. Combine three parts chili powder with one parts salt, pepper, and cinnamon. Rub spices into one-inch-thick chops and brown on medium heat. Once chops are browned, add 1 cup chicken broth, 1/4 cup maple syrup, onion and ginger mixture, cover and cook on medium low for 15 minutes or until done. Once chops are done, remove from heat and keep warm. Uncover remaining mixture and return to a boil. Allow mixture to become a thickened glaze. If needed, add corn starch to thicken. Place chops on a bed of jasmine rice and spoon glaze over top. Add any preferred green vegetable for color. Serve with a Pinot Noir.

Dessert - An assortment of slices of Cheesecakes by Alex or a coconut cake by Ganache

Mmmmmm ... so tasty!

So, how come nobody told me ...

... that Pilot Mountain looks like a perky nipple atop a breast?!?!? This is essential information that I need to know!!!


Of course, up close, it looks a little less like a nipple. But the similarity remains!!


The Boy and I spent Saturday touring NC's wine country. There were a few pretty great wineries -- Old North State Winery, Shelton Winery and Vineyard, and Hanover Park -- but the rest were eh. Every red seems to taste the same and most of the whites are overwhelmingly sweet. That damn muscadine grape! But the weather was beautiful and we had a wonderful day tasting wine and eating good food!

The pictures below are from the Raffaldini Winery. Sadly, the wine kinda sucked, but the estate was breathtakingly beautiful. 




The cold weather doesn't agree with The Beast. She's taken to snuggling down into her bed and covering up her face with her blanket when hanging out around the house. She can be so damn cute sometimes!



19 November 2008

Leave of Absence

Because my blog is becoming increasingly depressive and whiny, I've decided that I'm not going to blog anymore unless it is happy and good. I figure that I'm simply depressing my already small audience, and there's enough crap in the world out there. So, if something great happens (like the wine tour this weekend with The Boy for his birthday), I'll post. Otherwise, I'm out...

17 November 2008

Still a Separatist

It's a new day, and I'm still bleh.

Back when I was going through my separation and subsequent divorce, DMB's Grey Street really described the emotions I was going through. I felt like all of the joy and happiness in my life was being sucked out, leaving nothing but the bleak, lifeless remains. I was stuck in a place that wasn't where I wanted to be. The dreams and hopes that I had always had were at risk of being pushed aside for someone else's contentment. I knew what I needed to do to get out of the situation, but those steps were scary and risky. What happens if I fail? What if turns out to be all for naught. It was a tough time, and the song described those emotions perfectly. After the divorce and the color had returned to my life, I still really appreciated the song. It reminded me of the power of music and helped me to feel like someone else had been through this before and understood my struggle.

Today on the stairclimber, that song came on the iPod. Normally I just "sing" along and continue my workout. Today, when the some came on, I was unable to "sing" and read my magazine. I realized that, while I'm not going through a rocky marriage right now, those emotions and that sense of "something more" is the same. I feel them again, and I'm not thrilled about it. I have no real firm direction or plan. I feel like there is no life left in me. I feel the vitality and joy being sucked right out of me. My outlook is bleak and grey. 

When is this shit going to pass? Seriously. 

16 November 2008

Separatist Condition

I've been feeling rather withdrawn and isolated lately. It's very much a self-imposed withdrawal and absolutely no fault of my friends. They are wonderful and amazing in every way. A girl couldn't ask for better friends. It's simply that recent developments in my life have really led me to be rather introspective and self-evaluative. I'm seriously reconsidering my current situation here in Greensboro and at UNCG. I'm not satisfied, and I'm not happy. It seems that everyone I know has eventually come to the conclusion that the 'boro sucks. I've always enjoyed it here. There is some great dining, a few cool hotspots, and the people and weather are pretty decent.  I guess my disillusionment and frustration has caused me to dislike this city and this school and this life. I just want to be over and done with. I'm just over it. Completely and totally over. If I weren't up to my eyeballs in debt, I would pack up and move to Savannah, wait tables, and live a happy life in poverty and a city the celebrates the open container. 

I'm not sure if this feeling will fade. While I generally like to be alone, a general feeling of depression and sadness settles over me whenever I am by myself lately. When surrounded by my people, I feel fine. I feel different from them, but it is manageable and acceptable. As soon as we part ways and go home, the ominous feeling of solitude and being left alone with myself takes me over. I hate being depressive and miserable, but I'm just so damned frustrated and disillusioned that I can't seem to get over it.

Cest la vie, right?

13 November 2008

Energy Saving and Saving the Environment?

I ride my bike to school pretty much every day. I save a TON of money on gas, create fewer emissions into the environment, and get a little exercise as well. I usually don't mind it. It is sometimes cold and miserable, but I figure it builds my character, right? When I left for school this morning, it was a little drizzly but nothing that I couldn't handle. I put on the rain gear and headed on my way. However, four hours later, the drizzle had turned into a nice hard steady rain. And it was time for me to go home. I didn't want to loiter around in the building waiting for the rain to stop (I can't get far enough away from campus these days), so I hopped on the ole Roadmaster and peddled my ass home. When I got home, I was completely soaked. Of course, I was wearing jeans. Nothing feels quite as good as wet, cold jeans on freshly shaven legs. I'm pretty sure I caught pneumonia. No telling, but we'll see. 

I'm beginning to think that a parking pass may be worth while.

11 November 2008

Exams

Went poorly.

Don't want to talk about it.

'Nuff said.

10 November 2008

An improvement

B is being a little better today. She's still being kinda ass-y, but it's better than yesterday. Maybe I'll keep her after all. We'll see how the rest of the day goes.

The Wonders of Wikipedia

I'm not usually a fan of this site, but the "irony mark" and "certitude point" are rather appealing to me. I'm not going to tell you what part of my oral comps preparation led me to this discovery. I'll let you create a story. It would probably be better than the real story!

Although, the use of the "irony mark" seems to defeat the actual use of irony.

(Kik - Is there any way you could incorporate the use of these marks into your novel? You could be a pioneer! And it would be Ah-MAZE-ing!!!! Just a thought.)


Phase Two

I take my orals tomorrow morning at 10am. Yeah. I'm so excited. (please read the sarcasm dripping from my words). When is this damn thing over with? When can I start writing my prospectus and get working on that damn dissertation so I can be done with all this? I just want to get a real job and be done with grad school. It's really starting to grate on my nerves. 

A lot of things are grating on my nerves lately. 

On a good note, I found The Boy a birthday present that I know (hope) he'll like. We'll see. He's a hard one to peg.

09 November 2008

Free to good home

I'm seriously considering giving B away. She is driving me nuts. Seriously. The Boy and I had Jo and her beau over for dinner on Saturday night. She paced the entire evening and then PISSED on the floor TWICE ... RIGHT IN FRONT OF US ... despite the fact that we had just taken her out moments before.  Today we went to Durham to visit with friends, a place where B has been a million times and loves (they have kids and lots of crumbs to lick up). Again, she paced and whined and was a general bitch the entire afternoon. The whole ride home, she refused to lay down in the car and rest. I am seriously ready to cry. What the hell is her problem? why the hell is she acting like such a friggin' bitch? She can look adorable and sweet and be the most lovable creature ever and then she can be a raging ho-bag! Man, if having kids is anything like this, I will NEVER be ready. Ever. Not that I was considering it at any point.

Other than my dog being a huge ass, the weekend was good. But then there was B to balance things out. 

05 November 2008

Interesting Coincidence? I think not ...

Barak Obama awoke this morning to be President-Elect of the United States of America. He is the first black man to hold the title and represents all that is good in America ... hope, possibility, change, and potential.


Today is Guy Fawkes Day. For those who don't know the significance of the 5th of November, go watch V for Vendetta and do a little internet research. (The Gunpowder Plot, Catholic uprising against oppressive government ...)

I don't think it's coincidence that America has begun an amazing road of change on such a significant historical date. Some things are truly fated.

But it could just be coincidence ...

Good night, and Good Luck

This election has worn me out! I need to go to bed now. I don't want to because I don't want to miss anything! I guess I'll have to rely on the highlights tomorrow morning. 

Yes, We Can!

04 November 2008

Something I never thought I would see

Disclaimer: Please excuse the rampant patriotism in the following blog entry. I am overwhelmed with national pride at this current moment. 

Tonight, history was made. A history that I honestly never thought that I would see. While I believe in equal rights and oppose any kind of racism and discrimination, I know how racially motivated many people in this country are. I never thought that those stereotypes and racisms could be overcome to elect a black man as president. I am happy that I have lived to see this day. It fills me with pride and promise and ... sorry for the now cliched buzz word ... hope. The face of America has changed and the "American dream" has been proven and revived. The "leader of the free world" is a black man with plans and ideas that will lead us to recovery and success. Obama has what it takes to make things happen ... vision, charisma, and diplomacy. I look forward to celebrating his successes. 

I've never been more proud to be an American citizen. Our government now reflects the progressive and modern face that we like to show to the world. I look eagerly await the next four years ... and hopefully eight!


Waking up in a new America

I'm closing down the internet election surfing and am going to finish watching the election in bed. I look forward to waking up to a different and improved America tomorrow morning. 

Good night, with prayers of change.

Watching history happen

No matter who wins tonight (although I am partial to one particular candidate), this election is fascinating. And no matter who wins, the aftermath is going to be messy. There will be lawsuits, complaints, and all kinds of turmoil. 

One result that I hope comes from this election is the dissolution of the electoral college. It is antiquated and outdated. If McCain wins the popular vote, he deserves to be president. Clearly the majority of Americans would prefer (hypothetically) him to be president. It isn't fair or appropriate for one man to win the popular vote and another to win the electoral. It is asinine and doesn't work in today's world. While I would prefer Obama as my next president, I want him to come by it fairly. Not simply because he wooed "important" states. Aren't we all important?

On a related note, Kay Hagan stole Elizabeth Dole's senate seat! Yeah! My friends (Joey's parents) are personal friends with her. That's where I was most of the evening, watching election coverage. Oh yeah, I rub the right elbows. Don't you know it.

Ohio just projected for Obama! Damn this thing is exciting!

P=PhD

I just met with the barraCuda and was informed that I passed my 20th century exam. He is fairly certain I failed all of them, but I need to verify with KK. Of course, he had to qualify his "good news" with the statement, "You passed, but with qualifications." Meaning, I didn't do everything he wanted me to on his exam. Namely, I addressed all of 20th century literature rather than just Modernism in one of my answers, and he thought by course design question was to broad. But I passed. And "P" equals "PhD," right?

We met for about 30 minutes and talked about the things that he plans to address in my orals. Needless to say, I'm a little terrified. I've got a decent list of things to know cold, and he expects me to produce fireworks. He's more likely to get some dime store sparklers. I'm scheduled for my orals on next Tuesday, and I've got a PACKED week and weekend ahead. I work on Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday. I've got Monday off from both AT and school, so I'll be doing some hard core work then. I'm going to try to get some done tonight and tomorrow, but Thursday and Friday are a wash. Saturday has the promise of work time, but Sunday is pretty much a "no go." Ugh. Just when I was starting to feel relaxed and relieved ...

Oh well ... ready for round 2.

03 November 2008

Election-itis

On the eve of a monumental election (arguably the most important election I have ever voted in), I thought that I would take a moment to express my thoughts on the influence of religion on politics.

Most of you know that I am a newly converted Catholic. I am extremely happy in my faith and find comfort and guidance in the mass and my conversations with God. I subscribe to many -- but not all -- of the Catholic doctrines. Significantly, I subscribe to these beliefs because they are aligned with my moral conscience not because The Church tells me to. 

I believe that abortion is wrong. I would never be able to abort a child, and I would hope and pray that no one I know ever has one (or has ever had one). I know that there are many avenues and options for women carrying a child that they do not want. But I also know that I cannot understand every woman and her situation. I also know that this nation was founded on a strong belief of separation of church and state. 

I was in mass two weeks ago, and the lectern read a letter from the Bishop prior to the start of mass. The letter was telling us all to go out and vote. But it didn't end there. The Bishop spoke about the need to feed the poor, educate the young, care for the needy, and defend our fellow man. I was completely okay with this. Finally the Bishop ended with the following statement, "The protection of human life from conception to natural death is preeminent among our moral values." This "abortion is the only issue" stance is a problem for me. While I believe that abortion is wrong, I completely support the pro-choice position in legislation. The government should not and can not make laws that are based on religious ideology. I will be pro-life in my activism but remain pro-choice in my politics. It is not The Church's position to influence laws. It is The Church's responsibility to provide counseling, support, and guidance to women considering abortion, regardless of the laws that exist. The lives of the unborn are indeed very important, but they are not the only issue that matters. What about the millions of people who starve every day? What about the abysmal condition of our school systems? What about the endless "war" in which we are engaged? What about the millions of people -- old and young -- who have no health insurance and cannot seek medical treatment? All of these issues are very important to me. As a democrat, I believe it is important to take care of ALL Americans -- young, old, male, female, rich, poor, healthy, ill, born or unborn. I am very willing to vote for the candidate who is most likely to address as man of these issues as possible. I know that there are always pro-life activists who will provide women considering abortion with options and counseling. It just isn't our government's responsibility to tell us what we can and cannot do with our bodies. 

While I understand that so many of us find our morality and values within our churches, it bothers me that we so readily reduce our vote -- the most significant action we can take as an American citizen -- to just one issue. We are willing to forgo all of the other social services and issues to make sure that abortion is illegal. Why is it that we cannot focus those energies into preventing pregnancy (through education and available contraception) and working with women who are considering it? It just isn't our government's place to limit our bodies (women's bodies) with restrictions. I cannot in good conscience vote a single issue ballot. 

On a very good and happy note, I do believe that this election is a good sign of things to come. Voters are turning out in recored numbers. It seems that Americans have finally taken ownership of their right to vote and see it as an important element of their citizenship. One can only hope that this passion and excitement continues in future elections. 
 

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