Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Waiting For the Break of Day

We were to have a Bomb Cyclone today in New York City.  Something the weatherman called, not unusual although again they fail to report 'where' its common, like thousands of miles away from the Eastern Seaboard.  It was to be like a hurricane in winter but not because there is no such thing, they said.  Some meteorologists seemed tickled pink, almost giddy to report what they felt was an exciting weather story while others tried to squash our fun by saying there was nothing new going on here, just fancy words for the same old thing.
All I knew was I was off that day and could watch it all unfold, one of my absolute favorite nerdy pleasures. But I woke up with a headache that felt like the air pressure that fell was dropped right on top of my head.  In fact I learned later that was the defining difference of this system, the extreme and quick drop in air pressure.

With my head in a vice I still managed to make my grandma's chicken soup with rustic cut potatoes, cabbage and carrots.

I still get a huge thrill when the mayor holds briefings to close schools during winter storms, especially while the snow is hitting right outside your window.  I love the silence and rustling commotion of the mic while getting the different heads to speak of timelines and delays, interrupted broadcasts and scrambling news reporters.  I just adore being told by a government official to stay inside my house.  90% of the time, that would be my plan anyway but now it's official and void of any guilt or feelings of loserdom.
                           Fresh Market on Fulton Street 
Weather is such a brilliant reminder of how we're just tiny little powerless animals walking around on the planet no matter what shield of importance we may have wrongly wrapped around ourselves.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Ain't We Lucky We Got 'Em, Good Times

Mexican Sweet Potato Chicken Stew

This was born out of a Woman's Day recipe I made a few years ago with pork.  Sweet potatoes work really well with pork but chicken was no slouch in this either. In fact it was dynamite!  And I was able to use what I had.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, Yukon potatoes, corn, tomatoes were added along with cilantro and thyme, onion and garlic.  The secret ingredient is 1-1/2 cups of a homemade roasted hot sauce and real chicken stock.  What could be better than adding heat to a homey comfort stew?  I also left the bones on while cooking because the meat falls off anyway and this way the thighs give up all of their offerings to the soup.
I served it with freshly made tortilla strips and yogurt to cut the heat.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Don't Hand Me No Lines and Keep Your Hands To Yourself

I'm reminiscing about my mom today, how she was when she was clear, years ago back in Fort Wayne.  When I was a teenager, she was always working really hard at our restaurant where I learned my love of tostadas, like the ones I made tonight.  She was very busy but she tried to take interest in my bizarre life.  This story ties in my grieving for my mother, the #metoo movement and the humor even in tough life situations.
I think my second year of high school I had broken it off with my regular boyfriend and was taking photography.  I was trying to pour my efforts into this one class, the only thing saving me from dropping out of school altogether.  We were given an assignment to capture action shots, so I went out to watch basketball at the park.  I started to notice my ex's friend Charlie with his southern accent and long golden hair.  He looked like he could make trouble pretty easily.  He had taken his shirt off to play and although I don't remember being affected by this type of behavior ever before, suddenly a part of me awoken to the dawn.  I developed the pictures in the dark room and remember staring at them a little too long.  But Charlie was a an ultra-loud wild, party type.  I liked the funny stoner guys that were cute and effeminate, not the sweaty-bodied jocks.  He was like watching a TV show though and had a really great smile with a big giant presence that would fill the room.  He probably listened to 8 tracks of 38 Special and Molly Hatchet, on the regular, not just when they came on the radio like the rest of us.  I believe he started fights while drinking and had the habit of throwing open the door when entering the room. When you're 17 you don't really have to guess too hard when someone likes you.  He was very forward.  I had a small crush, but knew it would probably end bad.  There were signs.  But I was newly single and figured I'd give him a try.  After the usual few times at the park getting stoned and hanging around the car with a group of friends he invited me to his relative's that he was house sitting.  All during this time beforehand he would call at night and if I wasn't home which many times I was not, he would talk to my mom.  These conversations would go on for way longer lengths of time than I could make sense of but I thought it was kind of cute.  He called himself Charles on the phone and she thought he was very charming.  He even had her rooting for him.  This was what they called courting she told me.  My mom was a really good judge of character and could normally smell a rat. I'm not sure what she saw in Charlie.  Maybe the same thing I did.   Well I barely had the heart to tell her that the minute I got into that house, he turned into a madman octopus.  He kissed me once but real hard and creepy and it immediately turned so explosively physical that within minutes I was actually scared. He had picked me up like I was a rag doll.  I squirmed off the couch like the cat in Pepe Le Pew. 
Image result for pepe le pew
Only it was not funny.  I was so unclear on how to escape this situation with my teenage girl mind.  This was new territory.  I tried saying, hey man, slow down with nervous giggles and pushing away but nothing was stopping this train.  He ignored all of my pleas for him to stop and just be cool.  Hell I probably thought there was a chance we would have sex but never like this.  It was the middle of the afternoon.  That was unheard of in my world. No everything about this had turned sour after that first tongue jab to the throat.  I got up and ran to the door but he beat me to it.  He pushed against the door as I was tugging at the lock.  I was all disheveled but could see his wild face through my hair.  He thought this was a game but I had gone from feeling awkward shy to full on flight mode.  I needed to get out of that house or I was going to be raped, pure and simple.  How did this get so scary so fast I thought?  Immediately I decided this would be my fault no matter how it ends.  I knew better.  I flirted with danger.  My last clear memory of that day is of his giant dimpled face being right up to mine at that orange door.  He was breathing really heavy and his smile had lost all its cute.  I got the lock turned and then he smashed my body between the door and outside. He was still pulling my arm from the inside but I knew I made it when I felt the sun.  I ran to my car. I never screamed but I did threaten to.  I think that's when he let go of my arm. That's how it ended.  I was shaken up pretty bad and remember barely being able to get my keys in the ignition, but I was fine.  I never forgot it though.  When you're 17 you move on fairly quickly too.  I stopped hanging out with that particular group and never saw him around.  But that little asshole had the nerve to keep calling and I came home several nights while my mom was sitting at her nice antique phone table talking to Charles, her idea of a great guy for me.  I finally told her what happened and she asked him to never call there again. My mom was a genuine, unique woman and she had been swindled too.  When enough time had passed to joke about it, we would imitate his voice saying 'this is Charles' and laugh at loud while looking at each other with knowing eyes. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Anyway You Want It, That's the Way You Need It

Soft Chicken Tacos with Roasted Bell Peppers and Cucumber Pico de Gallo
I shredded my already roasted chicken thighs, added stove top charred red pepper.  The cool accompaniment to these was this newly invented cucumber salsa. 
Cucumber Salsa:
english seedless cucumber
red wine vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
sweet onion
all chopped and generously seasoned with salt and black pepper
I only had one tomato so I roasted it to eat as a side.  Also I served on a bed of greens in the case you wanted to add as you go. 
Sometimes you really need tacos and must have them.  In the past I would be stuck if I didn't have the exact ingredients that I deemed appropriate taco fillers.  This helped me to erase that false belief.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Go On Take Everything, Take Everything!

After deliberately not eating red meat very often I think my taste buds have become keen to the more subtle flavors of ground turkey.  I actually prefer a well seasoned veggie induced patty lately.  But I'll admit a quality beef burger changes my mind every time when it's there in front of me.
So many things to consider when giving an opinion on something as simple as druthers for a meat patty.
I also have thoughts galore about how social media is handling crime and punishment around sexual harassment right now.  So I'm choosing to slice off teeny tiny pieces of the issue and consider them individually. 

First off, I am thrilled women are speaking out and having our day of reckoning.  It is embarrassing that all this behavior still thrives in the workplace and in such a prominent place as Hollywood.  
I've already determined (and shared) I'm uncomfortable with the direction we're traveling in regards to sentencing by the masses. Allowing short-attention-spanned hordes to declare guilt or innocence. Public opinion is deciding fate like an invisible wave of the hand.  And now the punishment itself also lies in these same hands.  Deciding what should be taken from the wrong doer.  Where are we going with this thinking and where are we coming from with this logic?  It's the level of atonement I have the problem with along with how it's rolled out.  And the brevity in which it all goes down.  Is it mass bullying of another kind forcing companies to make rash decisions based on possible loss of sales, viewership, traffic, etc.  Didn't we agree on actual systems and laws to deal with this shit a long time ago? 

This week, Uma Thurman's story regarding how she was bullied into doing a car scene 15 years ago has brought us a step further out. Now general past bad behavior and judgement is being brought to the mob for fodder.  Sharing her story with accompanying video gives everyone a chance to chime in, in 2018.  I hope we change laws and policies from this information.  Weinstein must be a monster asshole predator but there are so many complicit enablers here.  Where does their responsibility lie?  Unless we handle this properly, it doesn't take care of the next victim.

I've always struggled with punishing my abusers.  So many years later I know I suffer from deep scars and am still repairing damage.  But what good does the rod do for the universe? I don't know that answer. Does it heal or change the accused?  Does it help the victim?  I keep coming to the same honest thought.  For me the only peace I've ever known has come from forgiveness.  That's me, but that's why we have laws and I will fight for your right to handle it properly.  

Going after an individual publicly and taking them down might not be the best way to promote change. 

To me this is just as bad as presidency through Twitter. 
I commend the people who have thought it out and went to file reports with the police.  But to the women that go to a magazine directly and report it, to Good Morning America, I say this is not the way.  Public shaming? Are we sure we want to go there with all our new power?  We're better than this.  We're smarter.

Let's assume many of the butt slaps and innuendos can be dealt with going forward with a threat of sharing our story.  It's like when the movie Fatal Attraction came out. I bet a lot of men thought twice after those Glenn Close scenes.  I think bosses around the globe are paying attention but if not, women certainly are more apt to immediately go to HR or speak out.  Let's get more education and rally for protection laws. 

I think there is plenty to learn from all of this and it's very positive for women to verbalize past sexual abuse for your own sake. I'm all for healing and working through an ugly injustice.  Naming the past work place accuser in the present on social media is below us in my opinion.

I read today, Scott Baio ....deserves to hear his victim's words.  But remember how gross it was to hear Scott Baio endorsing Trump's hateful rhetoric?  Listen I have no doubt this little horndog pursued and seduced this young girl.  But why are we the more evolved suddenly stooping to the level of society that we've deemed ignorant?  If we lived through it, we need to rise above stupidity and fix it, not stoop to it's level. 

I also have a question.  What do we gain as a society by taking away the great things these bad people have already given us?  Woody Allen and Harvey Weinstein have produced genius work.  I want to be able to watch Diane Keaton in Manhattan even if she's an idiot and he's a pedophile. I kept meaning to watch Kevin Spacey in House of Cards because I heard it was amazing.  I own My Life with Marilyn and never had to think once about Weinstein's member while watching.  I just love Michelle Williams magical portrayal.  Plus I can't even bear the thought of losing all the music if this same system roles out to musicians.  

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Don't Leave Me This Way

I never quit learning that everything and anything can end abruptly. To savor moments as nothing is promised.  We have a guy, at the pizza place next door that gathers magic combinations of flavors.   We buy in individual slices in order to get a nice variety.  This has gone on for some time.  We halve the slices so as to each get a tasting.  Sure it's New York and you can get amazing pizza many places but this is ultra convenient, cheap and exceptionally good.  That is, while this particular guy was in charge of the kitchen.  Now he has gone on to another location, leaving the creation and assembly to others.  They are very nice, friendly and we won't stop buying from them but the majority of the genuine magic left with the chef.
When eating pizza, like burgers and tacos, it's hard to get too disappointed when you're lucky enough to have these delights in front of you.  But when you know how good it can be, then it's tougher to swallow down the inferior version.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

All in All Is All We Are

Always a simple favorite, roasted chicken with chickpeas and any other vegetable.  It satisfies and gives a feeling of effort when there is very little.  Season and slide in oven.
Marriage is not like baked chicken.  However, when everything is running smoothly it does look as though you have mastered the craft. And there are learned techniques I suppose. Mostly I think people wing it but if you work it, it works just like the 12 step program.  In my head, the best relationship was always imagined as laughing a lot, and sharing all the things I loved like eating, music, movies.  Also experiencing all the small moments of everyday life together basically as the introvert weirdo that I am.  And I have all of that.
What you don't think about when you're considering sacred union is who is going to do the dishes everyday?  Who takes care of the laundry? Someone has to make sure we have food in the house.  Who will scrub the toilet, change the litter box, dust, vacuum, do the taxes, pay the bills, talk to the landlord, handle the fuse box, etc, etc.  Even pulling out from all of that, who will manage the state of the merger itself?  Who knew just how many decisions need to be made ongoing for years on end.  Who decides if we could use new pillows or worse, need to talk about something important?  And for so many of those questions, the answer is you.  And all the rest is the other person. There are two choices only.  Mass effort is put in annually but it's in small doses, not all at once, but certainly ongoing.  And so the whole machine just churns away.  If you're lucky I mean.  These are all luxuries that many people hope for in their lives.  We strive for strong, healthy human connections.  So I know my struggles are minimal in comparison to real problems.  It's sort of a miracle that things run as smoothly as they do actually and I love doing a lot of stuff around the house.  But once in a while out of the blue, I burn out and question why people put each other through this process.  So many compromises.  I want a thriller movie and he wants action or comedy.  I do 20 things and he does 5.  I care, he doesn't. Millions of tiny clean individual living cubicles maybe in store for the future generations of women. Your friends and mates can visit and then take they smelly ass home.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Maybe Tomorrow the Good Lord Will Take You Away

My mom passed away on this day.  She was 94.  She had dementia for several years beforehand so she was gracefully living in another dimension in a sense and I feel she taught us new ways of communicating while in that state.  In her own way she made the best of her handicap.  She still expressed love and concern, even for smaller things like your daily outfit choices.  Being in her presence in those final years was like visiting an Indian sage. She emitted wisdom from her being sometimes with only glances and others with actual full sentences that made crazy sense, similar to reading a proverb that seemed to be written just for you at that very moment.  But she held her dignity throughout.
I arrived the day after and her room was empty of any of that magic.  In it's place a soft quiet that filled the air with what I could only describe as absense.  
My nieces told me the beautiful stories leading up to her leaving.   They sat with her every minute of those final days. 
They passed a promising video the day before I left for Tucson of her cooing with her great granddaughter and I remembered how babies always brought her so much joy.  What a beautiful image and gift for her to see the newest arrival. And visa versa. I believed she would stay with us for more days.
I can't imagine what it was like for my nieces in the final hours.  Mom gave us siblings a gift of sorts where she had so many scares that we ended up dividing our grief and stretching it out in several payments over the years.  She was still being such a mother in that respect, using tools even in her condition to water down the pain.   She never put herself first.  And she lived a long time.
For years I dreaded this day.  I could have never imagined there would be joy in any of it but seeing so much family and actually watching kids play made you pull out from the sadness and see the beauty of celebrating a full wonderful life together.  This woman who touched all these people.  She was my mother but she was a wife, a grandmother, a friend, a sister in law.  She was so much to so many.
We were scared my dad wouldn't be able to eat but that didn't happen and thank goodness really.  He fainted once, that was scary enough and I wasn't even there.  Highlights with him were trying to help him dress when we realized he wore the wrong shirt under his suit seconds before we needed to be out the door to the funeral.  I felt so humbled to be around my dad at such a vulnerable moment.  He was so thin but tried to be very strong.

I wore a 20 year old suit that reminded me of something my mom would wear so I did for her even though I was very uncomfortable and felt like I was playing dress up
 These are my siblings above, all grown up.  And some of the next generation below.

After I left my nephew made his version of Power's Hamburgers of Fort Wayne, a famous haunt.  They made my sister cry they were so delicious.  
There was food, of course. not as much as you'd imagine knowing our family.  People brought food like you see in movies and we had the after funeral dinner catered from a local Mexican Restaurant who specialized in Sonora Dogs.  I didn't take pictures.
But this was the one time in my life that food didn't matter.  It didn't help.  It didn't soothe or even satisfy.  No one is ever ready to lose their mother. Words said to me by my mother-in-law and a sentiment I would cling to for the next months.  Mom was ready to go.  She needed to be out of her burden but nothing is the same without her in the world so far. 
 Rest in forever peace my sweet momma.