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Archive for February, 2008

Tuesday-Friday

Cough-cough-snuuuuufffffffle

(sigh)….coughcoughcoughcough..gnhhhhhhgh..cough..cough..(swallow)

Repeat

Gnnnnnnnnnnnngggghhhhhhh…hunh

(blow or spit)

huuunhhhhh..SNEEZE>SNEEZE>SNEEZE>SNEEZE sniff sniff

(sigh) (sweat)(shiver)(stomach gurgle)- rotating combination

Repeat

Repeat

Repeat

Repeat

Repeat

Repeat

Repeat….

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Sick of sick

I’m still sick. Right about now I feel like I’ve been sick just about as long as there’s been snow on the ground; which, as I previously mentioned, is a LONG TIME. I just want to be able to taste food again, and breathe through my nose, and NOT cough or sneeze every five minutes. This sucks, it really, really sucks. The only positive note is that I seem to have lost 2 lbs. Like the line in The Devil Wears Prada: “I’m only one stomach flu away from my goal weight.” Frankly, I prefer cottage cheese and carrot sticks any day, thank you very much.

That said, I’m not much up for writing, so I’m giving myself a pass until I feel better. I’ll still try to log on and post something, but I don’t offer any guarantees that everything I write won’t be whiny, self-pitying and boring. Consider yourself warned.

Now I’m going back to the couch to chug some Nyquil and watch more Law & Order.

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Haiku for an extended cold

(I’m not sure WHY this posted at 2:40am, but I can assure you I was deep in a Nyquil induced sleep by that hour, and know for a fact that I posted this no later than 10pm on February 27th. Just in case anyone’s counting.)

Sick at home again-
seems coughing will never stop.
I just want to sleep!

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Dammit…

Argh. Almost forgot to write again. And once again, it was for no good reason, just mindlessly surfing the net and looking up stuff about all of the vacations I want to take. And the food I want to eat. And the houses I want to buy. And Diablo Cody.

Well, I’m writing now, and that’s something at least. After all, I didn’t pledge to write “prolifically” or even “well” every day, just to write.

It snowed here again last night- 8 inches. I swear sometimes I feel like it will never stop snowing. At first it was charming, in a ‘hole-up-in-your-house-and–read-a- good-book-with-a-glass- of-wine-and some-pasta’ kind of way. But it’s not cute any more. Really NOT CUTE. Now it’s making me fat, and lethargic, and keeping me away from my friends. I swear we haven’t had a full week with no snow since the middle of January. Enough is enough already!

But, then again, I guess the lack of anything else to do has helped to get me writing again, which is good. And it motivated me to finally get around to reading a book which has quickly catapulted to the top of my favorite books of all time list: “Traveling Mercies” by Anne Lamott. I plan to commit that book to memory- it is truly amazing.

Okay- I wrote. So there. More interesting stuff tomorrow, I promise.

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Okay, so I forgot to write on Friday. I was alone in the office for most of the afternoon and spent the majority of that time filling in blocks on Word document-created “Baby Bingo” game sheets for a baby shower I co-hosted on Sunday (yesterday), and though that is not an excuse, per-se, it is the reason I didn’t write. Those suckers took a long time to fill out! (And then only half of them ended up being used, but that’s another whiny story…)

But I have refused to beat myself up for failing to live up to my 5 days a week writing goal in the first week of its existence. Because beating myself up about something that is in the past and therefore out of my control would only spark a guilt-ridden backlash which would probably result in my scrapping the whole project. And that’s not something I want to do. I’ve been thinking a lot lately that I need to learn to forgive myself when I make silly, small mistakes. I generally set the bar pretty (some would say unrealistically) high for myself, and then internally berate myself when I fail to live up to my own self-imposed and completely unnecessary/unrealistic goals. That’s no bueno, and something I want to work to change. So I didn’t write- it’s not the end of the world, no one was hurt or killed (myself included), and all I can do is pick myself up, dust myself off, and start writing again this week.

This new and much needed policy of self-forgiveness first popped into existence this weekend as I prepared for the aforementioned baby shower. It just so happens that I am known in my social circle for being both an excellent party planner and dessert-maker extraordinaire. This is mostly based on my Monica-esque tendency to always want to be the hostess and my love for the challenge of tackling very precise and complicated recipes, both roles in which my control-freak/perfectionist personality tends to revel. However, in the process of creating and executing these little labors of love I tend to overextend myself and try to do everything by myself, which usually ends up making me a stressed out crazy person when only 5 of the 6 made-from-scratch desserts (or carefully compiled mix-CD favors, or individually designed “Baby Bingo” cards) turn out perfectly. In typical “Me” fashion, when faced with designing a menu for a good friend’s baby shower, I decided to make not one, not two, but three different homemade desserts- coconut cupcakes (from a recipe I’d never attempted), dulche de leche sandwich cookies (with homemade dulche de leche, naturally) and two different variations of chocolate truffles, whose flavors would be inspired by the mother and father-to-be’s interests and heritages. Overdoing it a little maybe? Clearly you don’t know me very well.

So on Friday night after work, I began my baking extravaganza. Did I mention that despite having a grad school class from 9 to 5 on both Saturday and Sunday, I decided that- in the interest of freshness- I should just make everything on Friday and/or Saturday night? After sitting in class all day? For a shower that would begin on Sunday directly after I got out of class? I’m crazy- I don’t deny it. After knocking out the sandwich cookies (which turned out pretty well, even if they a little messier looking than I’d hoped), I was attempting to melt some white chocolate to coat the margarita-flavored truffles I had decided upon for the mom-to-be (she’s Mexican and was quite the tequila fan in her pre-preggo days) when I decided to add some lime juice to the chocolate, in hopes of furthering the margarita flavor. As I was tempering the chocolate in the microwave, I simply poured some lime juice over my nicely melting white chocolate chips, gave it a little stir and put the mixture back in the microwave for another 30 seconds. At the ding, I took out the bowl of what I assumed would be citrus-flavored white chocolate goodness, only to find a stiff, globby hunk of white chocolate mess, with a texture closer to dried out kindergarten paste than smooth, silky fondue.

Now, under normal circumstances, I would have freaked out about this, wringing my hands and declaring that I was a truffle-making failure and surely the party would be ruined. But, given the two glasses of wine I’d already consumed, the sandwich cookie’s relative success, and the presence of two friends who had come over to help with the wine-drinking and cookie testing, I instead took it in stride. I told myself that my mistake had probably been as simple as microwaving the chocolate for too long, or at too high a temperature, or possibly just inferior white chocolate chips (I knew I should have gone for the more expensive brand). I could just dip the truffles tomorrow night. After class. Before I made the cupcakes. In that generous 2 hour window I’d have for all that, before spending some much needed and faithfully promised quality time with J. Yeah, that’d work… The next night, however, after having great success with the cupcakes (really, some of the best I’ve ever made, even despite- or perhaps because of- my futzing with the icing recipe), I confidently set about tempering some more white chocolate that Jay picked up for me after he got off work (“I promise honey- this will only take a few more minutes and then I’m all yours…”). This time I used the tried and true double boiler method- that silly microwave wouldn’t screw ME up again- and just as the chocolate pieces were starting to soften and blur together, I pulled the bowl from the stove and stirred them into smooth, shiny liquid perfection. I then grabbed my lime, and my cute little citrus reamer, and- almost smugly- poured just under a 1/4 of a cup of lime juice into the melted chocolate. Immediate cloudiness. Then, as I began to stir, my lovely potion began to seize up and clump like bad biscuit dough. I stirred faster, hoping it just need to incorporate. The consistency thickened from that of lumpy batter to wet sand. I put the bowl back over the hot water, hoping the heat would help. It didn’t. The mixture began to separate, giving off an oily residue. Meanwhile J sat on the couch. Almost an hour into our “date night”.

Then the strangest thing happened. I didn’t cry. Or get frustrated. Or declare that surely everyone at the baby shower would scoff at the idea of only one flavor of truffle and all storm out en masse taking their gifts with them, leaving the parents-to-be glaring at me through tears of pain and disappointment. I just scraped the ruined chocolate into the trash, called out to J that “Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to go with one kind of truffle”, and went to the other room to sit with my husband. And you know what? Everyone loved the one kind of truffle. And the cupcakes. Rave reviews all around. And the “messy looking” cookies were the fan favorite.

So I guess the moral of this story is that self-forgiveness feels pretty darn good. And setting up huge self-imposed hurdles and then worrying about how to clear them is really just a big unnecessary waste of time and energy. And people are usually pretty darn impressed with what I put out there anyway, even if it’s not everything I set out to do. And spending time with my husband is much more important than trying to be Martha Stewart.

And white chocolate and lime juice do not mix. Maybe next time I’ll try just adding the zest….

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but hopefully I’ll get around to writing again later. And I did write this, so it has to count at least a little bit, since ‘writing every day’ is the overall goal of this experiment. I’m justifying, I know. What can I say- my therapist canceled on me today (she’s get over cataract surgery…. oops- there I go justifying again), so I must have some built up guilt/self-doubt just looking for an outlet. Anyway, this is an expansion of a response I wrote to a post on a friend’s blog, and I like how it turned out:

I admit it- I read Realtor.com, and the local paper’s ‘Home Finder’, and scan the neighborhoods I like for ‘For Sale’ signs. But that doesn’t make me unfaithful. I love my apartment, I really do, but we both knew all along that it wasn’t a long-term commitment, that she was just a fling, not marriage material. She’s beautiful, my apartment, and quite a catch for the city, but she lacks substance- and reliable plumbing, and consistent heating, and a washer/dryer/dishwasher. She’s a high-school drop out with a great stylist. I won’t deny it: I’m with her for her huge sun rooms, her fabulous built-ins and her cute little yard. There’s no shame in being a sucker for a great set of built-ins. But I’m still single and fancy free in the real estate sense- no mortgage on my finger, no sir, not me. Which leaves me free to flirt with other houses, other neighborhoods, other cities even, on other coasts. Lately I’ve been carrying on a secret online relationships in several places at once, including two local neighborhoods and some lingering long-distance flirtations with the cities of Philadelphia and Annapolis. And I don’t feel guilty. I never said I wanted to settle down.

I blame my realty-commitment issues on my urban surroundings and friends. Of all of my friends here in the city, only one couple has ever owned a real ‘house’, with a yard and grown-up neighbors, and water bills. And even they’re renting right now, as the taxes (and his divorce settlement) drove them out of their charming single family home. My friends all rent. Oh they talk about buying one day, but they don’t really mean it. Because buying in the city means paying way too much for a shoe box of a condo, or leaving the city and moving to the burbs, which nobody wants to do. So we keep our downtown mistresses, changing addresses and lease agreements like Hugh Hefner changes blondes, always dreaming of the day that a change in job or financial situation will lead us to a nice girl-next door (or at least ‘girl-down-the-block’) type, that won’t require changing zip codes or neighborhood bars.

But secretly, deep down (or not so deep down, it seems), I want to make that commitment- a real commitment, in front of all my friends and family- to a nice little 3 bedroom, 1 and a 1/2 bath Chicago-style bungalow with a front porch, hard wood floors, a postage stamp yard (just big enough for a tiny garden, a hammock, and a midsummer dinner party), and a garage. I dream about this house. I casually stroll through neighborhoods looking for her. I know she’s out there, and I know she’s out of my league, but still I think if I can just get the first date I can win her over. We may not stay together forever- so few urban homeowners do- but I know we’d make each other happy while it lasted… at least until the I got tired of sharing a bathroom.

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I’ve been coughing non-stop since yesterday afternoon. Perhaps writing that my cough sounds like my mothers’ brought about some sort of cosmic intervention, in which I am being forced to acknowledge our similarities and her absence again and again and again.

Or maybe J’s right and I have an Upper Respiratory Infection. Could go either way, really. I’m going to see both my therapist and my doctor tomorrow; I’m sure that one of them should be able to get to the bottom of things.

Two posts in a row about coughing- my life is truly fascinating.

It is still bitterly cold here. The kind of cold where the front of your thighs turn numb after walking just a few blocks (in pants and a long coat, mind you- I’m not just frolicking around pants-free and wondering why my legs are chilly). I thought that this winter I was dodging the old S.A.D. blues, but I think they may be beginning to set in. I really want it to be spring, and soon, but eight years of Chicago winters have taught me to know better. I’ll have to settle for dreaming or reading of lovely spring mornings, full of crocuses, delicate sunshine and the smell of warm,wet dirt.

I’m thinking of taking J to New Orleans in April, for his birthday. I’d imagine that that’s a city where they know how to throw a spring. The first time I went to NOLA was in August of last year, and I quickly found out why any natives with the means leave town in the summer. To say it was hot would be the equivalent of calling the ocean “moist”. Heat or not, I fell right in love with that town. It’s true southern funk personified- dark and light and rich and poor and good and evil all rolled up and shaken up and completely unapologetic about any of it. Spring time, in particular, seems like it would suit the whole virgin/whore New Orleans vibe: Mardi Gras and Easter, communion wafers and fried oyster po’boys, flowers in the Garden District and naked people in the Quarter. It’s all about redemption, the natural progression from debauchery, despair, and death to enlightenment and reawakening- just like spring. Or a Tennessee Williams play.

Right now there’s a sunbeam coming in my window and trying to convince me that it’s warm outside, that if I just threw open my window I would be greeted by a warm and gentle breeze, redolent of daffodils. Back off buddy- I’m not that naive. I know there’s no spring in Illinois. Just snow and coughs fraught with meaning.

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