Friday, January 30, 2009

Headdesk

I really need a vacation.

That is all.

***

Later.

I still need a vacation. But it is now Friday night, and the weekend looms invitingly in front of me. I am drinking the last of the Bailey's, which is hitting the spot. It still is not vegan, but it most certainly has not gone to waste. I won't be buying any more, though. Now I'll have to find something else to spike my cocoa with on those nights I need to dull the edge.

Jeez, I sound like such a lush. 

I will be heading down to Florida over President's Day weekend for four days. I am very much looking forward to it. I'll be visiting my dear friend Alex, who moved down there a few months ago. I really miss her. It will be great to see her again.

But right now, It's Friday evening and I can do whatever I want tomorrow and the next day. It's going to have to be enough.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Round and round and roundandroundandround...

... Sometimes, when its now, and you are
tired from fighting your brain all day
because it has suddenly turned mean and 
spiteful, you figure out how to shut it
off and hope it figures out how to be
happy by morning on its own.
                      -- Steve Williams, Soft Pedal

My brother is a genius, no? He wrote that. You can buy the chapbook by following the link.

Bad mood today, egged on by many things, most of which I had no control over (12" to 16" of snow, for example).

But really, I think a lot of it has to do with the walls I keep trying to throw myself against. Maybe one day one of them will give way. And then I'll have another wall to throw myself against. At least it'll be something different. Perhaps a new wallpaper, or different paint color...

Ironic, isn't it, that the post below me goes on and on about how I my course of action is inaction. What I neglected to post is that sometimes I get so friggin' impatient at the Universe's turtle-slow pace that I do something stupid, which just slows things even more, if not completely stops things. 

I don't know where I'm going with this post. Nowhere I guess. It's just a snowy night and I'm frustrated by things I cannot post here. I guess, what it boils down to is that I just need to accept what I'm feeling then let it go. I'll work with what I can control, and I'll have to deal/accept with what I can't. 

None of this makes any sense to anyone, does it? If someone out there actually got this, could you explain it to me?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Passive Method of Achieving Goals

"... when you throw a stone in the water, it finds the quickest way to the bottom of the water. It is the same when Siddhartha has an aim, a goal. Siddhartha does nothing; he waits, he thinks, he fast, but he goes through the affairs of the world like a stone through water, without doing anything. without bestirring himself; he is drawn and lets himself fall. He is drawn by his goal, for he does not allow anything to enter his mind which opposes his goal... It is what fools call magic and what they think is caused by demons... everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goal, if he can think, wait and fast."
--- Herman Hesse, Siddhartha, p. 60

I read this book several months ago. For some reason, this particular passage spoke to me deeply. It seemed to describe my method of achieving my goals. Okay, granted I don't have many of them, but every once and I while I do find myself wanting to achieve something. I know many or most people when they have a goal toil on it and put all aside until they get what they want.

Not me. More often than not. I'll say to myself "okay, this is my goal." But don't necessarily do anything about it. At least, not that anyone can see. I'm thinking about it, carrying it around with my always, waiting. Waiting with the surety that if that goal is meant to be achieved then it will be. The opportunity will arise to successfully complete my goal and boom. 

I know, I know. Not exactly the best way to go about doing things. But damned if it doesn't work more often than not. I guess some people call it "manifestation", which I seem to be eerily good at. I actually had one friend once tell me to be careful about what I manifest. I once chided myself in my journal that I'm probably the only one who decides what a reasonable course of action is based on future events. Makes no sense, right? Right.

Maybe I'm just an eternal optimist. Maybe I'm just the Queen of Delusion. All I know is, that Siddhartha's approach seems to work for me. Although I will say there is more than one way to fast. 

When the mind is focused and the intentions true, like a rock to the bottom of the water, the path is straight and unobstructed. 

Or maybe I'm just a loon. ;-)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thankful

Today, I am thankful for:

1. A return of hope. 

2. An end to the fear- and war-mongering.

3. No longer needing to be embarrassed to call myself an American.

4. A new leader that not only knows what the big words mean, but can use them in a sentence. Correctly. And probably even spell them without spellchecker turned on.

5. People coming together in celebration, not terror.

6. An admission that things are really fucked up right now, and its going to take a lot to get us back on track.

7. One of Martin Luther King Jr.'s dreams coming true.

8. A new President who realizes we are "a patchwork nation" and not all cut from the same cloth. One who recognizes that we all deserve the same basic rights. 

9. The hope that now maybe all the enemies we've made will listen to someone who will listen to them. 

10. The fact that there is a man named Barack Hussein Obama in the Oval Office.

I wish the best of luck to our new President. He's got a long, long road ahead of him. It won't be easy, and it won't be quick. But for the first time in a long time, people are walking down the street with less of a load in their hearts. No longer will we be trapped under the heavy weight of fear that has held us hostage these last eight years. 

We cannot continually live one day over and over, afraid to live our lives as we see fit. We do not need to apologize for our way of life. We might, however, want to apologize for not acknowledging that the way of life of others is equally valid.

These next four terms are going to be interesting. I remain optimistic that while we will not achieve the utopian society painted in Obama's acceptance speech, we will be able to pull ourselves out of this crisis and actually become the great Nation we seem to think we are.

Here's to the next 4 (8?) years. May they be everything we hope they'll be.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Yadda Yadda Yadda...

This weekend was pretty much like any other, Saturday I spent spending money and Sunday I spent baking. Yesterday I went shopping with a friend for a silver sequined top for one of my belly dancing outfits. I found it, although it was a bit more than I initially planned on spending. Unfortunately the cheaper ones were all too small. I am such an awkward bust size that it is darned difficult to find anything that fits up top.  I have to take what I can get and suck it up cost-wise sometimes. Luckily, it was worth the cost, and I'll be able to mix and match with other things I already have. 

Today I slept in late, did a lot of cooking, and never left the house. Toyed around with it this afternoon, but every time I looked out the window, wind was blowing snow off trees. So, chicken me wimped out. After all, wind + January = fuckitscold. Although, since tomorrow is a free day for me (thank you, Martin Luther King, Jr.), I am going to try and take a walk or something.

Anyway, today I made what had to be the oddest chili in the world. Okay, maybe not, but it was strange. I didn't have any kidney beans, but I did have a half cup each of dried adzuki and cannellini. So after soaking and cooking, in they went. Along with some leftover french lentils and come finely chopped celery (obviously, I was trying to use things up). It came out pretty well though, and the corn bread came out fantastic. 

I also made some almond cupcakes for dessert this week, and some butternut squash vindaloo. Which was amazing! So yummy. I'm not going to post the recipe as it came out of Vegan with a Vengeance, but I'm happy to send it to you if you give me an email address. For you non-vegans out there, this would taste spectacular with some chicken in it. In fact, the next time I make it I'm going to put some mock-chicken in it. Kinda wishing I'd had a raita, but unfortunately I didn't have the makings in house. Pity.

Anyway, now I am contentedly full with vindaloo and looking forward to an evening of vegging on the couch with a good book. Or a so-so book. I'm open. There may be hot cocoa involved. With Bailey's. Which is still not vegan. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Open Letter

Dear North Pole,

Hey, there! How's it going? Hope you're enjoying your annual vacation South of... well, you.  It's always a pleasure to have you around for the three (or sometimes four) months you give us.

Could I ask a favor? The next time you come visit, can you leave your relatives behind? Well, Santa's welcome every year. He's a right fun guy. Jolly and always up for a good time. Quite giving too. But could you leave your cousin Subarctic Temp behind? He's just no fun. Whenever he's around, everyone just sits on the couch huddled together, silently suffering and waiting for him to leave. I've gotta say, he's a real downer.

I'm sure you understand. Feel free to bring Santa back instead. He's welcome any time. 

Sincerely,
North America

Monday, January 12, 2009

Whimper

Between spending too long in Pigeon Pose yesterday for my choreography:













Photo courtesy of Yoga Journal


...and kneading bread for a solid hour, my poor bod is hurtin'.

How out of shape am I? Pretty damned, apparently.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I Did on My Weekend

Not a whole hell of a lot, to be honest.

Well, okay. That's not entirely true. I actually did quite a bit. Just no socializing to speak of. It was one of those weekends where I didn't have any plans, which seems strange after the whirlwind that was December.

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen this weekend, cooking for the week ahead. I made Spicy Lentils with Spinach and Apples (good, but not as spicy as the name advertised), Blueberry Oat Bars (made from local blueberries I froze over the summer), two more loaves of bread, and Leek and Bean Cassoulet. All of it delish, and all of it vegan.

I wish Bailey's was vegan. But it isn't. And damned if I'm not making an exception for it, at least until this bottle's gone. It tastes good in hot cocoa. Mmmmm, warms your belly on cold winter nights.

Went for a walk yesterday as well. It was sunny and beautiful. Which of course means frigid this time of the year. I had on leggings, sweatpants, 2 shirts, a sweatshirt, a lined windbreaker, gloves, hat, and neckwarmer. I felt like the little brother from "A Christmas Story." I can't put my arms down!!! Whaaaaaaa!!!

Did some choreography for my next piece. I'm performing again sometime in March, so I've got plenty of time with this one. I love the song. It's a great piece with an amazing beat and, get this, bagpipes. The theme of the show is "Myths and Legends." For my piece, I'm going to portray Morrigan. Celtic goddess of war, etc. My costume rawks. Can you say leather and chains? Oh yeah.

I'm done for the day now, watching bellydancing videos on YouTube and catching up on some long neglected reading.

Ariellah is my new bellydancing goddess. Check her out:

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Welcom to the Hole I've Dug Myself

So I've been thinking lately that I majored in the wrong thing at college. That's out of nowhere, right? I started out in Communication Arts, but switched over to Psychology and kept CA as a minor. I loved my psych classes, don't get me wrong. For a while I thought about going into child psychology. However, I found out working in the State Child Protection Agency that I couldn't have hacked that for very long. All those heartbreaking stories would have done me in within the year.

For some reason, when I went to college I totally ignored some of my more obvious talents. I'm an artistic girl, and I would have been well placed in art or writing classes. Throughout college, most of my non-psych professors thought I was a Lit major, because I regularly submitted poetry and other writing to the college literary magazine. I was one of those geeky kids who actually enjoyed writing papers. I loved finding the right words, making the connections... all of it.

Instead of taking four years of classes that have done me little good in real life, I could have taken classes in graphic design, which would have made me much more competitive in today's market. I could have taken professional writing classes and become a grant writer, copywriter... something. I'm not sure why I didn't. I guess I always considered the writing I did a hobby, and that I was never a very good artist. It never once occurred to me that I could take the talents I had and translate them into something that could make me money. I might not be that great of a classical artist, but I have a good eye for graphics. My grammar may not be the best, but people keep telling me I should do something with my writing. Classes would have honed these talents into something I could use.

And now, I feel like I should start over from the beginning. That I need to start from scratch and get a brand-new BA in something I can actually use. Which is silly. I should be looking at Masters programs. The problem is, I don't want an MBA. That would do me the most good professionally, and that's what I want the least. I have found programs in Non-Profit Management, which would be good I guess. I've also found Masters in Creative Writing, Library Sciences, Education... you get the idea. All these cool things to learn about, no way I can choose.

I can't afford to get my Masters. That's the god's honest truth. I make too much to qualify for much of anything, so I'd need to take out a loan in order to go back. And that hurts. I may finally pay off my college loan this year. That's 13 years of payments. And now I want to tack on another 13? I've got to say, it's not appealing. So that means I need to pick the lesser of two evils: keep on the way I am now trying to cull things together bit by bit or throw myself into even deeper debt in the hopes it'll do me some good.

So, until I can piecemeal enough real world experience to translate it into something usable, I feel like I'm stuck in limbo.

It's a hit to the ol' self-esteem, I gotta say.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Announcement!

I made bread on Sunday. For real, homemade bread. It's even vegan. Unless yeast isn't vegan. But it's plant-based so it is, right? I'm going with yes, yeast is vegan.










You can't tell, but the loaf on the left is misshapen. I just angled that part away from the camera. Note to self: put the side with the seam down so it doesn't come undone and form a bread flap.

It is sooo yummy! It isn't whole wheat, but I used molasses as the sweetener, hence the darker shade. I'm running through the first loaf a little too quickly for one person. Ahem. The second loaf is in the freezer. I used the basic bread recipe from the Enchanted Broccoli cookbook. Very glad I asked for it for Christmas!

It was a lot of work to do, and I kinda wish I'd started it earlier in the day. It was beautiful outside (cold, but sunny) and I spent the day in the kitchen waiting on it. Worth it, though.

Mmmmm... bread. Just like Grandma used to make. Only completely different.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year's Goals

I don't believe in resolutions. More often than not, they are attempts to rid yourself of a behavior that you find, on some level, pleasurable. The cold-turkey method just strips you away of everything you liked about your behavior (no matter how bad for you it may be), and leaves you standing there, naked in the cold, with nothing.

Sounds like fun, no?

I know cold turkey works for some people and if you are dealing with a larger addiction it may be your only real course of action. However, I think for many who find their resolutions falling by the roadside after a scant month, the intentions were good but they set themselves up for failure. You can't just resolve to do something; you have to be reasonable about what you can actually accomplish and have some sort of support mechanism to help you through it. Without that, it's easy to fall back on old habits. You have no idea how to move forward, so instead you go back to what you know. We've all been there and done that. I'm certainly no different.

About ten years ago, I started making goals for myself on January 1st for the coming year. Not necessarily to stop any specific behavior, although that does pop up, but rather things I'd like to work on over the course of the next year. Some times I'm more successful than others. Last year, for instance, I made a goal to pay off one of my loans. I was able to pay off my car loan five months early, and it was a very proud moment for me. In 2007, I said I'd work toward becoming 80% vegan. Well, I finally managed to give up fish and become a strict vegetarian. In mid-2008. You do what you can. Life is a journey, and some roads are longer than others. You have to celebrate what you did accomplish, and not worry so much about the other stuff. If it is something you really want, you'll get there eventually.

I thought I'd share some of my goals for the coming year. This is list is not inclusive, by any stretch of the imagination. Hey, I've got to keep some of the mystery alive!

1. Move toward a predominately vegan diet (exceptions made for now for dining out, where I'll remain a vegetarian).

2. Prepare more of my food myself, and rely less on prepackaged stuff. I'm going to start making my own bread, for example. Perhaps even my own seitan. Although, I'm a little askeered of that one...

3. Renew my love of yoga by doing more, either in classes or a home practice. I love how it makes me feel, and I've been lapsing on it these last few months.

4. Pay off my college loan. I can finally see the end of it, and I don't want to drag it on any longer!

5. Learn to let go of things I can't control, and to let go of negativity and frustration I often feel as a result of holding on to these things.

6. Watch less television (notice I do not say no television. The season premiere of Battlestar Galactica is coming up and I wanna know who the last cylon is!)

7. Have more fun!

That last one has been showing up on my list for years. In my own opinion, it should be on everyone's list!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy 2009! May you all have a spectacular year. :-)

This year, my good friend Mary invited me down to New York City for New Year's Eve. Being the smart girl that I am, I said "hell yeah!"

Both of us agreed very early on that we didn't want to do the Times Square thing. Neither of us had any desire to spend untold hours standing on the street with no bathrooms, no breaks, no heat... no fun!

Instead, we started out the evening by having an early dinner at Candle 79. Which you should eat at if you are ever in the city. Amazing food. It just happens to be vegetarian. If no one said anything, you'd never know. It was one of the best meals I've ever had. Seriously.

After that, we headed up to a loft party in SoHo. I didn't know anyone there, but it was a beautiful apartment and I had fun. Plus, free champagne. I was good though, and only had one glass.

After that, we headed to Central Park for the Midnight Run. I guess it's a 4 mile run that people do all dolled up. I didn't see too many dolled up people, but there were a LOT of people there. Some were running, some were supporting the runners, and some (like us) just showed up. There was a DJ there and tons of people dancing. At midnight there was a 20 minutes firework display. Very nice.

We had been invited to another party after that, but both us had stopped feeling our feet about 20 minutes before the fireworks, so we decided to call it a night. It was freaking COLD out there. I mean, I know it was a good 20 degrees colder in Burlington, but cold is cold!

We started New Year's Day by having brunch at the Odeon in... SoHo? No, TriBeCa. After that, we wandered around SoHo and the East Village. We found a couple thrift stores and did a little shopping. I found the perfect top for my next bellydancing costume, and a great bracelet to match. I also got some cute earrings at a little store that sold a lot of SE Asian-style clothes, accessories, etc. Actually, they had a tribal-style necklace that I was drooling over, but I didn't get it. I probably should have!

We ended the evening by renting a couple DVDs (The Couple and The Orphanage) and having a lovely home-cooked dinner. Nicely done, Mary! I liked both of the movies by the way. The Couple was set in WW2 Germany, and follows a well-to-do Jewish family and their two loyal servants trying to get the heck out of Dodge, so to speak. The Orphanage is by the same director who did Pan's Labyrinth. It's one of those suspense movies. It has subtitles since the whole thing is in Spanish, but definitely worth a viewing.

All in all, it was a wonderful little holiday and I am so grateful that I was able to go down and spend some time with a good friend.

One of the windows at Bloomingdale's








Midnight Fireworks in Central Park








Mary and I in Central Park for the Midnight Run











Mary and I at Candle 79

So.... You Want to be an Artist.

For the last several weeks, I have been working through The Artist's Way . This book has been out since the 1990's and I've been...