A quick note

January 25, 2007

The pot roast?

unstoppably good.

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I don’t quite know when I got interested in food. The actual cooking of it, the preparation, recipes, watching Food Network and Top Chef on TV, reading cookbooks…

Possibly it started as a way to get out of having to do the dishes, in all of the places I have lived in, if you cooked dinner for everyone you didn’t have to do dishes. And I DETEST doing dishes, something L. can attest to very vocally.
Possibly it started when I worked in a traditional European restaurant. I call it traditionally European because the head chef is a wonderful Romanian man, who is gigantic and slightly overwhelming when you start serving, but is in fact a teddy bear of a human being. He can pair food and wine like no one else and has a soft spot for unusual and exotic wines. Working at his restaurant (off and on for 3 years) was an interesting experience and allowed me to try all sorts of food combinations I otherwise wouldn’t have, see the inner workings of a kitchen and learn a BUTTLOAD about wine.

Possibly it stems from my childhood. My parents made sure we tried everything. A plate with only two colors is not a complete meal for me. My father would often order something unusual in a restaurant and make sure we tasted it before (and expressed our love of it) before telling us it was lengua (ground cow tongue, really fabulous) or squid. My sister and I are now avid sushi eaters, lovers of Ethiopian food, and willing to try just about any food thats put in front of us at least once.

who knows…

I find cooking very relaxing, when I’m stressed out or frustrated, it’s not unusual to find me making biscuits, or cookies or dinner in the kitchen. With my pregnancy making me crazy hormone girl and feeling a little lonely being at home all day, I’ve tried to cook dinner as often as possible.

My recipe collection (the dishes I can make well) is slowly growing. I’m well versed in Mexican food (from my Nana and my Dad), I cook a delightful pot roast (a skill first learned for an ex-girlfriend), and I adore making soups, my cream of tomato is my favorite. Mostly I stick to comfort foods, Thai style salmon with glass noodles, grilled cheese and tomato soup, hummus, fajitas, chicken with rice, Minestrone soup, Manacotti (a dish I first tried for a friends birthday). All of these are easy and taste good and most everyone enjoys them.

Lately, I’ve been slightly frustrated with my partners limited palate.  L. has some food issues which are more entertaining than  life threatening and cooking for him is a little bit of a challenge. I’ve learned to make new things, how to grill a steak, how to let go of any dreams of candlelit gourmet meals. And when I really want to make something new (or something he won’t eat) or try an unusual food I call up my less picky friends like Molls, or even better Pablo Norte (who I assume will eat almost anything!) or my dad and get my fix.

At the new place we have a gas stove, which I adore having grown up cooking on one. Electric stoves are fine, but gas is much easier to work with. I have used it in limited quantities, since I have no earthly idea how to cook for only 2 people. But it’s great.

Today I’m making a pot roast. I’ll make Luke pick up a loaf of sourdough and a bottle of blood orange soda on his way home and we’ll have a lovely little feast.

Tomorrow is fajita night (it’s a weekly thing here)

This is one part of staying home I can enjoy…maybe I’ll bake bread tomorrow…

History

January 15, 2007

My mother handed me a piece of paper.

On it, in a familiar hand, that I hadn’t seen in a while was a prayer in Spanish.

It was the prayer my Nana said over me the day I turned 15.

I grew up in a household divided. My mother being fiercely Mexican and my father looking so very white. I inherited my fathers skin tone and my mothers eyes. I learned how to make tortillas and menudo when I was 10. I understood Spanish from childhood. My mothers cousins children called my “El Casper”…

When I was 14 my parents asked if I wanted to have a Quinceanera. I decided that it was something I wanted and we planned a day that mixed Mexican tradition with my feminist upbringing. My grandmother and my Nana said prayers over me both invoking the Virgin. It was a great party. 🙂

4 years ago my Nana had a severe stroke that left her unable to communicate, unable to write, it limited her movement and she wasn’t able to stay by herself. Every Friday night (when I wasn’t doing a show) for 3 years from 5:30 until 9:30 I was at her house, making her dinner, talking with her in her limited vocabulary (mostly a mix of nonsense and Spanglish), watching romantic comedies with her.

She died in April. I was in her kitchen. She looked at the statue of La Virgen as she stopped breathing.

I sat there, weeping,  as I read the prayer that she wrote for me. A prayer about family and faith. She ended it the way Catholics have done for centuries “en el nombre del padre, del hijo y del espiritu santo…” but then she took my face in her hands and said “y que la virgen maria te acompane siempre…Amen”

I don’t miss being a Catholic. I miss my Nana so tangibly that it is hard to breathe sometimes. But today something transcended those feelings….

I wish I had words for it. But it’s been a bit of a mixed bag today. I’ll let you know when I figure it out…

Focus

January 10, 2007

A few months ago sat in the dark trying to describe to a dear friend what it was like to lose my mind.(He was very sympathetic, one of the things I love about him is his uncanny ability to appear as though everything the other person is saying is fascinating)

I sat there, in the dark, in the lovely weather and I stared at the sky.

I struggled, like I always do when trying to convey the feelings of that period of my life, I struggled to capture what it was like.

And my mind got louder and fuzzier, like it does, it raced trying to beat my mouth, I felt my stutter coming back. I tried desperately to slow my words so I could catch the chaos of my mind.

My mind is often noisy, always chaotic. I am frequently fuzzed out around my edges, trying to express what it is like in there

I settled on describing to him the auditory hallucinations that made frequent appearances in March, I told him about the whispering from razors that they used to torture me with

I fought through the chaos of my mind to convey to him what its like to have a nervous breakdown.

and I realized that when I was at my craziest, my mind was sharper than it has ever been in my entire life

I was just terrified of what it was telling me.

This past Thanksgiving L. and I visited his family in Texas. I was greatly looking forward to this trip, as I love meeting people’s families and was very much anticipating sending a text message to my sister when the plane landed that read: “I have breached the Republican stronghold. Will report back soon”

L. is big on helping out wherever he can and within a few hours of our arrival at the homestead he had gone out to the backyard of his grandparent’s house to light a huge pile of leaves on fire.
huge. pile. of bone dry. leaves.

The man was in heaven…he was also sporting a relatively heavy Texan accent. Something I had never heard from his mouth in the 6 years I had known him. I kept asking him to say specific phrases, and while he did so I could tell he thought I was insane. Shows what he knows.


I spent the weekend people who reminded me very much of my own family, only Republican and in a scaled down version. They truly love being with each other and they are happiest when they are playing and eating and, well, burning huge piles of leaves together.

I have always struggled with the aspect of family in relationships. Ask anyone who knows me, my relationship with my family is an incredibly close one. I tell them everything, generally I want to be with them than with anyone else. I am fiercely loyal to them and can tell you in detail about almost all of my 35 cousins. I am especially close with my mother, father, and sister, they are like the gatekeepers of my life, to be close to me, you must also be close to them and to not get close to them wreaks havoc on our relationship (mine and the partner who isn’t communing with my wacky immediate family) I have never been able to adequately express how important it is to me that my partner be close with my family.

My ex-husband struggled with this. He was not as close with his family and I think my closeness with mine intimidated him. All of my other partners have either shut them out completely, or haven’t been around long enough.

Strangely enough, the few people who have fit seamlessly into my family unit I had never been romantically involved with. Jes, who can call my mother “Momma” (the only person to successfully attempt this trick), Juls who my sister always asks about, Just (my best friend of 16 years) who my mother offered to fly to Canada to keep him from getting shipped to Iraq, who has been at almost every major family event the run of his life, Sam who spent time with me during my “Nana Duty” before La Reina died, watching movies with us…

and L. Before we started dating, L. and I had been friends for almost 6 years. He came around every now and then, fixed my mother’s computer, talked wine and travel with my father, gave my sister a hard time. As we moved (relatively seamlessly) into the romantic aspect of our lives together, he fit so well into the family group that it was like he had always been there. He is the only peer of mine to date that can tease my mother like me and my sister. He can talk with my father for hours. My aunties and cousins who have met him send their love to him when they talk to me. Several members of my family have his cell phone number (something that didn’t happen with my ex until after we were married).

I realized on that trip, that the reason he fit so easily into my family is because thats what’s important to him. Watching him call his grandfather “council” (like my Grandfather called my mother) or tease his sister, wrestle with his little cousins, and offer to clean up his grandparents yard, I realized this man is the partner who will get the relationship I have with my family. More so than some because he knows how I feel being seperated from some of my family be state lines. He misses his little family all year round and seems so at ease around them, people who have known him for years in Arizona would barely recognize him.

I was incredibly apprehensive about the trip because of my difficulty meeting new people, because his family is so devoutly Christian, and so hard line Republican. I am my politics and my liberalism is as natural to me as breathing. I was delighted to find that this family is friendly and loving and easygoing…and if I steer clear of the political conversations I’m home free!

More than anything I focused on the fact that I had finally found the mental clarity and stability, happiness and stillness that I had been looking for. I thought about the fact that even though we have lost the matriarchs of our families my huge crazy patwork families have managed to hold each other together and love each other all the more. I thought a long time about my darling friends, who love me even if I am crazy and difficult and flaky sometimes. I gave thanks for the fact that one of those darling friends, who has stood by me through ups and downs the last 6 years, waiting patiently for me to realize how perfect we are for one another, understands my craziness and my dedication to my family, my struggle to adapt to new situations and to make the best of stressful ones, that he is forever curious, because it’s his best trait.

I was most thankful this past Thanksgiving for the realization that being myself is easier than I ever thought it could be. Easier even than breaching the Republican stronghold (which turned out to be totally simple, so much for them being all big on security).

Rhythm

January 3, 2007

I am trying, in my gestation/unemployment, to try and come up with some sort of rhythm and schedule for my days. To not fall into the habit of napping whenever I feel  a teensy bit tired or get all aflutter with worry everytime I cramp a little.

This is made hard by the fact that I am not what’s known as a “self starter” (please imagine my doing this like the Chris Farley “van down by the river” character, it will make it more visceral). I like assignments and schedules and what have you. I like to be creative within the confines of a deadline but darned if I don’t like a deadline. I’ve been enjoying spending time researching grants and pulling info for a couple of organizations but the last couple days of doing it on no schedule I’ve looked up at the clock and 4 hours have passed without my notice. It was slightly panic inducing to realize that I had become a corporate drone. But there it was.  In terrifying technicolor.

This morning I woke up at 6, not having yet mastered the art of staying asleep while someone is up and about getting ready (very quietly) for work. L. and I chatted, while it was still dark out and I had a little breakfast. I looked at my to do list for the day and looked at getting up 2 hours early as a bonus! Look at all the time I had! WHEEE!
At 9:00 I was tired again, having moved things around and sorted and started laundry. So I climbed into bed to take a short nap.

(A note for me to remember if I ever want to do this growing a person thing again: I DETEST sleeping whilst pregnant. Detest it.  I usually sleep on my stomach but with a gigantic bump in the way that is out of the question. So it’s mostly sides for me, as sleeping on your back apparently puts undue pressure on your vena cava, a major vein or artery or something. (not that it works, 9 times out of 10 I end up on my back after being a rottisserie all night) This would be fine but I’m packing about 25 to 30 extra pounds these days and it’s all mostly on my front so I have to creatively prop my stomach up and find a way not to squish the mattress with my massiveness. Also, being in my third trimester means I have a wee child pushing into my diaphragm and lungs making breathing a might difficult so that wakes me up to.

Along with the constant kicking and moving around from the baby.

And L. snores.

Loudly.)

For some reason this nap was filled with comfortable sleepnig positions. Turn to the left, perfect spot! No aches, no difficulty breathing! The baby decided to nap with me, no random alien flutterings and sharp kicks to my sides! Turn to the right, no shortness of breath, stomach perfectly propped! It was heaven. So I napped for 2 hours. And lost all of my morning headstart.
sigh.

When I woke up, I decided to eat lunch and re-strategize. I watched a little TV, I made another list. I felt the rhythm coming back. And so I proceeded with my list, checking things off here and there. But no matter, the time was lost and I didn’t get everything done. The rhythm of my day apparently takes a ton of time to get into gear.

stupid rhythm.

More than missing the rhythm I miss the company that having a daily rhythm brings you, at a 9 to 5 job you seee your co-workers, if you’re in school you see your classmates. As an unemployed person, if you don’t find a rhythm that involves seeing other people you find yourself alone for 8 hours a day…and your rhythm gets all shot to shit…because of the ever present lonliness.  (please insert sad face here)

So step number two in learning how be unemployed…finding people who likewise have minimal responsibilities during the day to entertain me…

With the understanding the in 3 months, I won’t be around so much because I’ll have to, you know, care for another living being exclusively.

New Year’s Musings…

January 2, 2007

This past year will forever be known by myself, my family, my friends and my therapist as “The year Meg got her shit together, grew up and learned how to be herself.”

I have been thinking a lot about the past year and how change, open to it or not, happens at such a lightening fast rate you have no choice but to go along for the ride. Sometimes it is exhilerating, sometimes it is terrifying, sometimes you slow down long enough to think on all the little things you could have done to change the outcome and then you’re off and running again.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to feel like a “regular person”. And I thought that life was just supposed to be frustrating and hard with little glimpses of contentment. That love was a daily struggle and if it was to be worth it you had to fight and fit the other persons vision of you perfectly everyday to keep it. That my dreams and my goals could be put of indefinetly to ensure other people’s happiness. I thought that feeling crushingly overwhelmed by little things was normal. That keeping my true self careful in check was how people wanted me…I was wrong.

It is uncanny how we can convince ourselves that toxic situations we put ourselves in are perfectly adequate. I look back over the past year and I see myself shedding of the toxic layers that took me YEARS to accumulate. Before my divorce, before my gandmother’s deaths, before my acting out. The past year was difficult in the sense that I had to take stock of my life and finally say: “I’m sick, I need get help. I’m self-absorbed, I need to think of other people. I’m frustrated with my life, I need to re-evaluate the patterns I’m falling into.” And I did. And I haven’t looked back…

It was an overwhelming year. And this New Year’s, more than any before, deserved the tagline: “Maybe this year will be better than the last”. Earlier in the week L. and I went out to breakfast with his parents and his sister and her boyfriend. We talked about where we had been each New Yeear’s Eve since 2000. It was so interesting to hear what they were doing and to think back on what I was doing, what I was thinking at each point. I have had mostly quiet New Years’ for the last 6 years. (Probably to make up for the partying I was doing year round), I even worked one year and came home after midnight. This year we went to church, went out for sushi with friends, went to bed early, set the alarm for midnight and fell asleep, awaking only breifly to celebrate…and it was lovely. They all were.

Looking back on all those memories makes me realize the one thing that has remained a constant in my life, my ability to make the best out of a situation. To find the joy in my life and hold tight to it. Even if it seems like there isn’t much there…because it’s always there.

Even with that knowledge, for a lot of people this will be remembered as the year I changed. Everything. My personality, my partner, my family, my job! And for a lot of people it will be remembered as the year they said goodbye to me. I know that I will remember it as the year I said goodbye to them. But I think that both sides know that it was better. It made both of us stronger and more ourselves. To be able to say: “This person you have become is not in my story, is not on my path, and so I bid you farewell” has been the greatest lesson I have learned.

That and how to cook steak. That was a good lesson.

See? You learn something new every day!

And I hope to always provide that service.

With a smile.

But not one of those creepy, “oh dear god help me, I’m trapped in retail hell” smiles that you see a lot these days.

A sincere one.