Thursday, November 30, 2017

And Life Flows On With You and Without You

Image result for introvert memes

In the last few years I have accepted that I love to write and that I am a card-carrying-no apologies-introvert.  Then this week it really sunk in just how long this has been true, which is pretty much forever.  For awhile I thought perhaps it was a newfound condition that came about since I stopped drinking years ago.  However now I realize it was only masked then by sheer will and mismanagement of me by me.  No one likes a wallflower though and society does everything it can to pry you from your seat at the observation deck.  I wanted to please people though and it didn't seem possible using my god-given self.  So with a lot of liquid ambition and assorted pharmaceuticals I did enjoy getting attention and feeling very free. I know I was much more likable or at least I didn't care as much either way.  I loved the idea of sacking inhibitions and spent many years living on the other side of the looking glass.  But I always knew I was shooting my whole life's wad early on in doing so.  And it's not to say you can't be both.  But for me, the fun, outgoing gal only came out when I sprinkled, or poured more like it, lots of beer in her.  I leave the door open in case she comes back. Even I miss her sometimes.

But from very early on I studied people and was genuinely interested in why they were the way they were.  It wasn't so much about the compassion but more the understanding, the human science behind it.  I thought deeply about the people in my world and considered each finding a gem that helped build my collection. I think I came to know my sister so well because I focused so hard on all of her intricate mannerisms, tendencies and behaviors. I recall being so shocked to find her crying at the window one night, worried about my dad getting home safely from the bar.  Her heart must be so big I thought, as I folded this new information into my mental sweater pocket.  And how happy and almost giddy she would get around the little blonde neighbor girls.  I would get territorial and not want to share my sister but how could I be so selfish when she clearly enjoyed them so much. If not pondering my sibling, I was equally excited to spend time with me. I made whole itineraries and carried them out with delight.  Was there any better companion then yourself?  When I did venture out,  I sought out the underdogs, the weirdos in the neighborhood.  The old gay alcoholic with the Chihuahua, or the younger than me girl whose living conditions became my obsession. To sit in her room and just breathe in the loveless vibe in that house.  It wasn't so much her, but an example of how one's view can change perspective so drastically. That was fun for me to see. But I always needed an end in sight while socializing. I treasured my alone time so I could contemplate each new discovery.  You could often find me in the sun eating mulberries on the balcony of our house on Schele Avenue, just daydreaming for hours.  And now like the biggest vinyl nerd, I have a large collection of research, exceptions and case studies to draw upon. I recognize each day is another opportunity to gather more no matter from where. 
Some meals are even catered towards loner fare as they are personalized to my specific likes and memories.  Enchilada Chicken is using my moms sauce over baked thighs, with her cool, thin sliced iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and onions, cold cheddar cheese on top.  

I guess it's no accident but thank goodness I have this side of me since my husband spends the better part of everyday in his cave writing songs and has for years and years.  And years.

Monday, November 27, 2017

That's Not Cho Salad

Nacho Salad
Leftover nacho fixings easily made a quick hearty salad.   The cool fresh trimming on the top went so well with the warmed cheesy beans and crumbled chips.  Usually you would call this a taco salad but knowing the night before the same ingredients were used for nachos, it just didn't feel accurate.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Cause I Feel That When I'm With You, It's Alright

Individual Pan Nachos
I found myself alone on a night that I really craved a personalized meal.  It was after work so time was limited but I had plenty of my freshly made roasted hot sauce.  Nachos were a first choice but I needed a twist, something to make it special. Usually I leave off the toppings so we can build them how we both enjoy best, either loaded or sparse.  I melt cheddar and jalapeno only on the chips and then serve the condiments on the side.  These new kale chips burn too easily though.  Besides I knew I wanted mounds of pintos, properly seasoned beef and cheese so I prepared the toppings in an iron skillet and finished under the broiler.  
Then I served all rustic like, knowing it was a glutenous portion but I would not eat more than my fill.  It was just nice to know it was there.  It was delightful.  That's the word I would describe the feeling of being alone but not lonely, anticipating a good meal and then to enjoy it intimately.  I used whole pintos as well as vegan smashed 'refried' beans mixed with seasoned ground beef, onion, garlic, jalapenos,tomatoes and plenty of shredded cheddar.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

You Can Do It Baby, Do It Tonight

Our truth?  I'm not sure what the sidewalk drawing is referring to although I can imagine.  Women have a lot of secrets, sad stories to tell.  But also interestingly strange private habits.  One of mine as I previously shared is that when I cook for myself lately, the plate is sloppy, no thought put into the dish and certainly minimal effort is made  Nothing special. I didn't even put garnish on the plate, a sort of signature move that I've become aware of recently.  Bacon and eggs with a little pepper jack cheese.  This has got to stop.   This behavior ends here.  Every meal prepared no matter for who should be made with love and importance.   Besides who could be more appreciative of my labor, than me? 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lonely Day, Lonely Nights

When I make lunch or dinner for P and I, I usually think about what would taste good that day with the ingredients that make sense for whatever reason, like a soup for a cold day.  Roasted meat if we have been butchered mentally.  Just thought and consideration. Most of the time lately when I cook for myself, I just eat to stop being hungry.  But eating is very sensual and private to me so it's a bit weird that I do that.  I'm just not that into me right now I guess, so the best I could do for a solo lunch was cracking open a can of bean with bacon soup and adding fresh orange juice to my seltzer.  Sad is as sad does.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Can I Kick It?

Isn't it interesting how depending on where your head is at, the idea of a simple breakfast is either the best thing you can imagine or just something you need to get through to start your day.   I love that you eat it nice and early, with coffee and conversation.  Its a promising time because you're preparing for the day ahead. Nothing has gone wrong.  Unlike dinner where you are reflecting on what happened. Breakfast is a blank slate.

Friday, November 17, 2017

It Wasn't No Way to Carry On, It Wasn't No Way to Live

Quinoa elbow pasta is not the silky dream of say De Cecco linguine.  Then again, it doesn't give me migraines.  Not sure about the belly bloat though, the carb count is through the roof.  Each year the focus on certain food details drives the purchase.  You live, you learn.
I had the idea to make goulash.  What makes this a delicious Hungarian delight as opposed to Italian comfort food?  And in researching that I discovered what I have been calling goulash is just another Americanized and completely different dish then the actual.  But the simplified version is basically stewed hamburger meat, Paprika, pasta, beef broth, tomato and you guessed it, cheddar.  Americans love to slather cheese on our ethnic dishes.  I never turn down a chance for cheesy comfort food so here you have it.
I'm discovering that men are a little more complicated than I had imagined as well.  I've always studied the opposite sex and found them fascinating but maybe a little predictable in certain areas.  But with the recent wave of sexual allegations, if you are truly interested in human behavior, the details are astounding.  These are really cases for the books.  Now they're coming in so fast, we're throwing them all in one heap.  We really need some experts to chime in here, start getting this stuff into piles.  We have predators, power assholes, perverts, serial masturbators, pedophiles, and rapists.  In my wildest dreams there was not this bulk of variety.
My questions have questions! If you're a living woman, there's a great chance you've suffered some sort of sexual misconduct at work or otherwise.  And you've probably racked your brain to comprehend how this goes down whilst the person maintains all normalcy and can seem so unphased by any reaction.  We're raised to see predators and criminals as dark, seedy creatures, not the unassuming average Joe types coming to light.  But those in the know can accept it fairly easily without much effort.
I hate to be the one to put a positive spin on all of this but I spent time talking today with my husband who actually brought this up and I agree.  This might end up being really great for the country.  The start to fixing a problem is recognizing you have one. No one wants to hear all this but we certainly can never go back and say it isn't a problem.  Women have enough obstacles getting ahead in a man's world so this needs to stop and businesses need to ensure this is not happening.  We won't allow them to keep letting money make them blind to these crimes. We love you non-offensive men and we can all take a bit of the blame in letting this fester for so many decades.  Maybe this is a big part of our human evolution.  Its like when you go to clean out your closet and at first it feels like you're doubling the mess and you get sort of sick wondering why the heck you started such a massive undertaking.  But you continue because now you're 'in it' and can't go back.  You take everything out and look at it, touch it, throw some stuff out and neatly handle the rest until finally its done and you're so glad.  Because if anything says you're a together person it's a well organized closet. Right now the country is at the stage where we're overwhelmed by the amount of shit we've managed to cram in and hide away even from ourselves.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Foolish Girl, Shame on You

To replace croutons in a giant dinner salad I used toasted turkey pepperoni chips and Parmesan crisps.
A silicone liner is key to pulling off your cheese crisps.  Take it from me, the fool that tried to make them stove top on a cast iron pan.  Tasty but I had to take a chisel to that pan to pry them off and many were lost in the battle.  I knew better but did it anyway.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Set Me Free Why Don't You Babe

I've taken mental days since I was 6.  I'll never regret doing anything I had to stay walking around this crazy world.  I am just as committed to life as the next person.  Like someone with a disability I even have to try harder then some just to stay in the game.  At times I have a limited supply of giddy up.  It always comes back and on full moons I have much more than my share.  I've learned to trust the balance and the shifts. 
The eats on these days usually reflect the emptiness but this at least showed some effort.  I did overcook the eggs and the potatoes weren't crisp the way I like them. Someone out there feasibly likes their eggs slightly overdone.  Another maybe prefers soft potatoes so I got it right just not for me.  The day probably worked just fine for most too but there wasn't enough good air for this gal.  I found the idea of getting on my bike and heading to work highly disagreeable, in fact downright unachievable.  The only way I could proceed with the week was to have these hours to recoup. Necessary.  Vital.  Quiet, calm liberty. 
These call outs are not spent lingering in my pool of sorrow.  Instead acknowledging and respecting the urgency for my own personal emotional downtime.  Someday perhaps studies will find that some folks aren't wired for the 5 day work week or constant scheduling and people like me will be loosened from these social shackles. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Tell Me You Will Stay, Make Me Smile

Here and there my days can be like a Chicago song, easy and way more upbeat than usual.  On this day I pranced into work and did my thing.  I got on good with strangers and felt strengthened by my interactions instead of drained.  My shift ended and I hopped on my bike, had a pleasant ride home.  No one tried to cut me off or walked into my path with their face buried in a cell phone.
In the same degree, dinner was seamless.  I had already baked potatoes from the previous night. I scooped them out and smashed up some roasted garlic, olive oil and a bit of yogurt before packing the mix back into their original shell. I topped that with chicken, steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and Vermont Cheddar and put back in oven until the cheese was melted and they were heated through.

You wouldn't think it by what I share but I make conscious efforts to be a super grateful person.  Grateful for the sun, my mate, friends, siblings, parents, Brooklyn, my job, Spring, Fall, my bike, strangers, food, running water, warm clothes, our apartment, my health and the health of all those I know.  This list is endless but I try to hit as many as I can think of while on my bike rides and say them out loud like the Indian in Dances with Wolves shouting it from the highest peak.
That is one cool thing about being on a bike, you can talk to yourself, pray, gripe, cry, sing and pretty much act out anything.  The helmet, glasses and get up lends itself to a sort of invisible look yet being out in the elements makes you feel so alive and part of the earth.  I stopped to admire how this green tree was shedding it's leaves almost all at once from the strong winds even before they were given the chance to turn colors. I was grateful for the beauty of the sun hitting on that green blanket, how it flooded the street in that one spot as if for my pleasure alone.  
What's different now from maybe two years ago is that I try not to get caught up in how long these good moments last or how fleeting they may be.  I only try to be in them when they come. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Tomorrow,Tomorrow, I Love Ya Tomorrow

Broccoli Cheddar Baked Potato
There is something very satisfying about a whole meal contained in it's own vessel.  A baked potato, simple perfection.  Add steamed broccoli, grape tomatoes and shredded chicken.  Split open and season, fill and then back in the oven to melt the cheese before topping with Greek yogurt and green onions. 
I loved the separation of each of the ingredients but I bet if you mashed it all together for a twice baked potato it would also shine.  And that is what is awesome about cooking, there is always tomorrow.