Monday, July 29, 2019

Shorty Wanna Ride With Me

Rain storm hitting Jersey and coming over the water
Sister's Shish Kabobs...Mmmm!
It's not a gang, it's a cluuuuuub!
My ex-manager got a bike and started riding to work.  He was so excited and I was happy to share all my little bike-isms, as P did with me all those years ago when I started.  How potholes are scary at night, that you never let cars bully you out of your lane.  Why you always get flat tires in the rain and what streets to avoid at all costs.  How falling is inevitable and to stay away from school kids as if your life depended on it, because it might.  He parked near me for weeks and sent pictures of the bikes together and shared his daily routes to work.  It all wore off fairly quickly and he began driving more to work again but it was fun having a biker gang of two for a short spell.
Veggetti and Meat Sauce
I love the clean taste of Veggetti and meat sauce but if you're hankering for the more starchy stick to the ribs pasta feels, you can add a little butter to your pan after everything is combined heated and the you've turned off the burner.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Either Light Up or Leave Me Alone

I get upset because much of my time is spent worrying about all the bad things that could happen in the near future.  The heat of this summer has sparked many new fears.  The recent power outages did nothing to calm my growing visions.

Beyond that I worry what heat is doing to our minds.  I know that after only about 3 weeks of hotter than normal temps, my spirits were way down.  I wasn't able to do much beyond the required tasks of the day and barely that.  l felt sick after eating on way too many days and wondered if half the greens and meats they sell right now are contaminated.  There hasn't been a lot of amazing produce this year even in the expensive markets.

I stand and look out on the Buttermilk Channel in back of work and see all the garbage floating in the water, how it smells of oils.  The poor little ducks floating in the midst of it all and I have to ask myself in my best Werner Herzog voice, 'Are they even aware of all the plastic surrounding them?'  The air quality has been bad due to the heat.  Everything smells of rotting souls.  I suddenly can't wait for winter to at least mask the stench.

But beyond the obvious take downs, I feel my own inner ecosystem is withering at times. It's hard to muster love for everyone when you see so many people are pieces of shit not even trying to do better.  It's more difficult to remain positive when there is less and less evidence of goodness in the world. I've always been a half empty gal but lately I feel the damn things gone dry.
P went to the Peach Festival is Scranton, PA with his brother for a few days and I fantasized about my man-free days to silently wallow and punish myself for being such a miserable schmuck until I realized I worked nights the whole time. But I had one day, this day, solo.  So after listening to hours of sad music, I dragged myself out to shop for a special Girlie pasta lunch, Linguine and Clam Sauce.  As a bonus I threw in some extra shrimp I had frozen and enough garlic to ward off evil spirits in 3 counties.  Fresh parsley went in and the anchovies dissolved into the oil and clam water.  Red pepper flakes sprinkled into the starchy pasta water that made everything glisten.
Each minute is crucial with pasta so I pulled out the noodles 1-1/2 minutes early in order for them to complete cooking in the sauce but only to al dente, and it was successful.

Fresh Parmesan grated on top and more pepper flakes.
The world could end tomorrow but if I had a huge plate of pasta like this, prepared with intent and love, the day before I could at least say I died happy.

'They call it the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it'.  George Carlin

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Everyone Is So Untrue

Honestly, there is a bounty of easy online recipe sites that feature a good Slow Cooker Beef Stew.  I'm so grateful for these ladies that took the time to methodically write out each and every step to make their recipes and create these colorful easy to navigate websites.  And they're all free!  So why am I going to trash them now by saying they're all the freaking same!?  And why do I care for that matter? They all start with Welcome, my name is Betsy, Alison or Marilyn, and how they just love sharing recipes.  Always, the same smiling picture on the far right of the page of a young thin, healthy woman. They each tell their cute, non-offensive little family story on top, next to a food teaser montage, about why they just love stew or how their grandma taught them this or that.  It's usually personal but not deep. The pictures are professionally lit and the food always looks great.  They have the same recipe card, ingredient list, social media links at the bottom.  It works. Furthermore here I come like a bad house guest bursting onto these sites on the regular, quickly scanning down through the nonsense to steal the actual recipe nut and leaving like those monkeys in India.

.Claver Monkey | Stealing Food | Funny - GIF on Imgur
Slow Cooker Beef Stew
It's not these sites that are the problem, I hear this from my sister too.  It just begins to feels like normal women are either not represented enough or non-existent.  You start to doubt your own reality.  People over 50 are vanishing from the face of the earth.  Plus I want to know I'm not the only one who wants to put a frying pan to my husband's head daily.  No one cares about finding your soulmate.  Where are the other women who aren't getting getting laid properly or at all for that matter.  Who's tired of mommy kisses and pats on the head like the kind you give a good dog?  Where is the day to day reality being shared about marriage?  It certainly wasn't on social media.  I'm not looking to blame or trash, just share.  I don't like being invisible.  I would be lucky to get a second look if I set myself on fire in the middle of my living room.  So even though, it's not connected on the surface, but just a symptom of the problem, these women aren't helping with their 1950's take on cooking and married life.

Wild Flowers Don't Care Where They Grow

Even though I've really tried to shed the ego and become a person who comes through more from the inside then the visual, I struggle to accept that in our world retail workers can basically become non-existent.  We may as well be robots, mere receptacles.  This isn't true on many occasions but it only has to occur once to feel intolerable.
A good easy recipe I found.
I love my Jewish customers and get a secret thrill waiting on them because it feels so satisfying in a way that I can't explain but if you allow me one stereotype, I'll say they usually need lots of assistance.  That's really only because they take the time to understand all the many choices and cost differentiation. I was a little over the moon to learn that my next customers were a Sephardic couple.  Listening to them speak the most beautiful Spanish with their unique tones and intonations was slightly cathartic for a moment.  I was lost in this tango like dance they were having, as if I was chewing the most delicious piece of chocolate.  Our initial encounter was shaky because the wife was very upset with the level of customer service she was given from my coworkers and wanted to complain to management.  I tried to turn it around.  But when I began asking them questions I realized they were not together on their choices at all.  She wanted better quality with style and he wanted cheaper, lackluster kitchen door fronts.  I agreed with them both on different points and offered an in between solution.   But this made me aware that this couple was so unaffected by my presence, or lack of.  They didn't even hear my very sound advice, over their own loud opinions. I mean if nothing else, I know my shit.  I tried to state it twice but it was as if I had become invisible in my own world.  And this is becoming more common place.  I just stopped talking and walked away the second I saw they were not hearing me.  When they finally came to some common ground, they looked around as though they just noticed I was missing and it had been about 15 minutes.

It's probably not wise to take it too personally, as people are more self absorbed and are losing their engagement capabilities with the real world.  As if we are less and less connected to physical.  Even in my own home at times I feel I am not an engaging enough presence for my husband to listen to me or look up from his computer screen when I begin a conversation.  I feel like I'm interrupting his real life with my annoying interaction.  At night in order to get his attention, I sit up in bed facing him waving my arms as if I'm a ship off in the distance flashing my lights. Mayday! Mayday! He looks out onto the darkness as if I'm completely invisible.  I want to throw those headphones and his laptop out the window.  He'd say the same about me though but I have made it a point to put down what I'm doing (unless I'm writing), to stop and not only listen but look at him as he speaks, which is so important.  It's crucial to be acknowledged.  We need this, like we need food to eat.  Managers too are trying to multitask so that they also can't be bothered to look at you when you're talking or give you even 30% of their attention.  They feel it's acceptable to continue their project as they listen, halfheartedly, with no eye contact.

Class and economy can affect how much respect someone feels you are entitled, or even worse is when they are void of any consideration of your existence.  I sometimes wonder if the power in your presence fades as you age as well, so that it becomes easier to be ignored. This could be real from evolution.  You don't need to really bother with old in nature.  Older means, non-child bearing capable, not mate worthy, not edible, could be diseased or damaged, certainly less dangerous.  But now here we are in the modern world still in our skinny jeans, still craving acknowledgement, love, affection, interaction and at the very teenie, tiny least, eye contact.  But my efforts these days revolve around just being good for the sake of goodness and trying to shut up about the rest.  Who would listen anyway?

Monday, July 22, 2019

Players Only Love You When They're Playin'

My sister called this a Chicken Cassoulet.  I was happy to hear it had a name.  For me it was a way to not turn on that oven in this heat.  A huge pan filled with things I love.  My side salad was thinly sliced cucumbers, red onions with jalapenos, cilantro, mint, red wine vinegar, good olive oil and a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.  Lovely dinner really. A little trick (that I didn't do) is to put the lemon slices underneath the chicken so that they become caramelized on the bottom of the pan and you can eat the whole thing.  It becomes a soft, drunken chicken-fatty fruit slice that's almost sexual. 

I have been immersed in the dangers of AI, listening to lectures and discussions by top scientists.  I had avoided the whole topic for years since it always felt too sci-fi but was surprised to hear that it is already underway and we're not too far from changing the game in a major way.  But when you learn about AI you must also explore what reality means.  Since I consider it a place I'm always dying to escape, I also went deep into those theories.  I especially like the one that poses a chair is only there when we look at it, meaning it's not really there, we just construct it with our minds in a form that evolution has taught us that works. That we are only dealing with a limited interface and are probably not capable of seeing actual reality because it exists out of time and space.  That got me thinking about human connections.  How real are these links?  Are they just chemicals reacting?  Can an attachment be one-sided?   I know trouble can be felt, because I pick up on dark moods fairly easily.   Some people think we are all super connected, that no one is separate. A joint consciousness. Probably so.  That means we're all assholes, which I had suspected.  Happiness is also a feel.   Some folks can bring happiness with their presence or even implied presence.  I know of only a few that are both very dark and very light at their core.  Most are more consistent but they are not as interesting to me from a personal or scientific perspective.
Many times I bring happiness directly to P in his room.  I knock on his door and deliver a meal like a regular in-home Grub Hub service.  I don't ask him for anything, just hand him a plate of hot food with a napkin and fork. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Tell Me Something Girl, Are You Happy In This Modern World

As I prepare to make a dinner recipe called Dump Casserole I see that there is no turning back, I am officially in another part of my life. I've always equated casseroles with all things boring.  When the cook phones in her culinary efforts and puts her creativity to nap.
I wonder sometimes if other women my age feel like I do, caught in this in-between.  I would think similar to the upside-down but with a bunch of old birds instead of young kids.
Related image
I am in between old and young but I'm also in-between the modern gal and say my mom's version of a woman.  Its an odd place to be.  I ride my bike like a youngster and live in a small Brooklyn apartment. I don't get my hair done, I get it cut.  I can't quite figure how to shop in the women's departments, so I still buy juniors.  Yet, I am beginning to entertain the idea of retirement and my face shows signs of aging, big highway-size signs, which is really depressing.  I do wife type things but it feels strange just to say the word.  I was considering my mom today, where she was in her life at 57 as compared to me.  She had 7 kids and was working full time at her restaurant with literally no free time of her own but still managed to furnish a huge house with antiques, redecorate and help raise grand kids.  She didn't do bad things or deviate from the program like I do.  I don't remember her complaining about her life although she did confide about a lot of work issues. She rarely got sick or took any time off.  There were no big vacations for her, eventually just a trailer at a peaceful lake where they would enjoy weekends with my dad's brother and wife living next door.  Mostly, all the living was being put into the future, for post retirement.   So in almost every way she ran circles around my womanhood.  I whine through my entire week and piss away my days off a good amount of time with various mental health issues. Basically, I'm just an uglier version of my 14 year old self.

Its hard to understand how to be a 57 woman today.  I imagine it's equally puzzling for men.  Terms like breadwinner, head of the household, husband, all have somewhat outdated definitions.  Do we rewrite our partnership laws or try to modify the current structure?
A nice big Greek Salad with gifted Feta from a coworker
I make food most always.  Some days I don't feel able and he'll buy take-out or jointly we'll figure out a plan.  Lately the cooking or at least the hunting and gathering portion is being shared more often. But if we were keeping score, I'd definitely be due some retro pay.  Probably pretty common, we split most things down the middle.  But when it comes to vacations, I feel a little bit girly in that I dream of being whisked away for an adventure.  Girls feel that we are always still dating in some ways, like we want day adventures and to be asked out occasionally.  And I just realized that I think of vacations as the reward for doing a good job all year.  Like that big bottle of Scotch you'd give to your amazing super for Christmas.  These are roles after all, right?  Or do I have it all wrong?  Is that a gross misrepresentation of the partnership?  Does he feel he should get a reward from me? I'm very aware I do these various things each day for us both and it's not always fun.  I don't always want to do it but many times I do.  Its part of living our life and for that life, I'm very grateful.  When you cohabit-ate, you naturally do what works until you feel the scales starting to tip too far. I imagine he feels the same though about his role.  Who wants to be the responsible one all the time?  But the days of the husband coming home announcing a surprise trip to Hawaii is not part of this new reality. You have to negotiate your time off from both jobs.  This takes a bit of the romance out of it but I would not be cool with being out of the planning part either.
Like I say, I'm caught in the in-between, sometimes not knowing how to be.  Modern girls have made great strides in so many ways but given the choice to create your own partnership, this gal is struggling with what that looks like in this next phase of life.

Dump Casserole Recipe

Thursday, July 18, 2019

My Memory Has Just Been Sold

When I was little and at a family gathering, if there was going to be a photo taken of all the kids, it was a thing.  Some adult got us all gathered together like monkeys and formed us in some order, usually on steps or with a chosen pretty background. 
I'm not in this pic but my sis Rach  (3rd row from bottom left) and Terry (top middle) made it. So many funny things about this picture that I could share.  Two is that I wore the shirt that my cousin Debbie has on as hand me downs years later.  And that there must have been a thing about sailors back then because I had many of those types of shirts that I see in this pic worn by my sis and cousin Eva. 
We were given instructions, when to smile, look alert. Usually two were taken so you had a chance to fix your screwed up expression or hair or everyone would be disappointed two weeks later when you got the pictures back.  Actually Polaroids were the big thing in this particular era. And then we dispersed and it was over.  No one would follow us around or take candid shots.  We were free from most eyes. Our playtime was undocumented and not monitored.   That left our imaginations room to blossom and go crazy.  I was fully aware of what I now know as my freedom back then.  I was in my own world, completely open to anything I could think or do and more importantly, completely alone.
Now, I see all these babies, photographed and filmed throughout their entire growth period, toddlers into tweens and beyond.  As if they learn that phone is just an extension of their mother or parent looking through at them.  As a matter of fact, they actually look at the camera or phone eye adoringly, as if it is alive from pretty early on.  By 2 they're already performing in a way.  They know they gotta put it on for momma so to speak.  The camera likes happy, smiles, and cute action!
I worry this is not a good trend. When it's the only thing you know, then it's probably not unusual for the child but to me its as though the parents are unintentionally stripping a right from the kids very early on.  These kids have that God given right to their privacy, not to be photographed or filmed and then shared with the world or other family members.  I mean, those memories belong to us as individuals, not the makers of Instagram. The other problem is that pictures and videos can be revealing at times and the world sees those things that perhaps they shouldn't be allowed to if we are truly protecting those kids.  This is not an issue in one or two photos during life events, when the kids are posing and are consenting in a way.  But on a daily basis and on every occasion, I feel it's changing trust and those beautiful exchanges you can have with your mom for example as a child.  The moment you realize how much she loves you in that glance that you share.  If that is replaced with the camera, does it have the same effect?

I may be overthinking this but I think we should respect children's rights and limit our filming and pictures.  Or at the least the sharing of them all.

I used my imagination to make this quick-style curry chicken with potatoes, chick peas and tomatoes.  P bought one of those hundred dollar free-range whole roasted chickens from Greene Grape, so I stripped the leftover meat into cubes the second day.  To add lots of flavor to the potatoes I boiled them in chicken stock, garlic and salt before adding them to the mix.  A lemon dressed leafy green salad with Feta on the side was a nice cool accompaniment.