An Update

Good morning!

Remember me?! I used to blog here. Three months have passed and I feel like the only way for that not to be awkward is to dive right in. Let’s pretend like the three month hiatus never happened…

The last 1/4 year has been a busy one, particularly with the Holidays and finishing up my semester. I am beyond excited that I only have 5 more classes and my internship left until I have my Master’s degree. In fact, I downloaded a countdown app on my phone. I am pleased to share with you that I have 11 months and 11 days left. BOOYA. This accomplishment feels amazing and I also miss working full-time (and not having an assignment always hanging over head).

Christmas was great! This year, Mike and I decided not to give each other gifts and that (surprisingly) didn’t make either of us sad in the least. It was really nice to have a more simple day and focus on what is important. I also liked that we took a more minimalist approach to exchanging gifts with our families.

We did a Yankee Swap with Mike’s side of the family. Basically, each of us brought a gift that we knew everyone would enjoy. The gifts ended up being mostly games, with the exception of the gift I brought (a box of 24 individually wrapped Boom Chicka Pop Flavored Popcorn and “Inside Out” on DVD) and the gift I ended up receiving and decided to keep (a gift certificate for dinner and a movie for two).

We traveled to VT on Christmas Day, listening to the new season of Serial all the way! It was good, but not as intriguing of a case as the first season (in my opinion). Seeing my family was nice, and we had an amazing Christmas dinner.

Other highlights of the Christmas break include:

  • This picture of Sam
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  • Devouring all of “Making a Murderer”
  • Reading a lot! (Including this memoir of a childhood in Scientology and this riveting book about nurses)
  • New Year’s Eve skating with part of the extended clan (a annual occurrence in Mike’s family)
  • A book group though my in-law’s church on this short book about Mary’s life. It was wonderful to get together with other women and  discuss. So much fun!
  • Spending time with Mike
  • Getting lots of exercise (we are currently doing 30 Days of Yoga with Adrienne. I love her.)
  • STAR WARS (twice)

What did you do over the past three months?
xo.

Tidy Home Tidy Mind

It is no secret that I have extreme levels of anxiety. Alas. I get by on the day to day but there is a bonafide way to make me feel in control of my environment. And this, my friends, is tidying up.

Typically, my pattern is that I will not care too much about the clothes I’ve tossed onto our bedroom floor or the stray few hairs on the sink from the weekly occurrence of me brushing my hair. (It’s curly, okay…. curly hair doesn’t need to be brushed as much. At least mine doesn’t).  And then, all of a sudden, I CARE SO MUCH. Hence our room or apartment or wherever has two modes: 1) my stuff is pretty messy or 2) my stuff is perfectly put away and I’ve scrubbed the bathroom top to bottom. And, if you are of this enlightened inclination, this doesn’t have anything to do with gender roles or expectations in my house. Mike is helpful with housework and certainly doesn’t expect me to do it all. However, I am the person in our relationship who tends to like things tidier, so it all pans out. If I suddenly want everything put away and not  a stray sock on the floor, I am happy to pick it up.

Does anyone else feel this way? I feel like I can exhale after finally tiding up, dusting, vacuuming, etc. Maybe this is because one of the reasons things go by the wayside that  would prefer to keep appropriately cleaned up (like the sweatshirt I take off or my pj’s etc. etc.) is because I am particularly busy during that time. Then, when I am not running in a deep panic, I clean up and feel generally relieved about my current state of affairs.

In an attempt to find some middle ground, I want to try to work a few things into my daily routine that keep our space from becoming out of control. Here are a few things I have found helpful:

  • Before bed, clean up the kitchen. Wipe down counters, make sure all dishes are loaded and start the dishwasher. Wipe up spills on the stove. Sweep. Feel joyful that when you come downstairs in the morning, you will be greeted by a clean kitchen.
  • Make the bed in the morning. We are still working on this one. It’s difficult because Sam the dog likes to paw around in the sheets, etc. so bed making is a “strip the bed and remake it” activity every morning. Gone are the days when we could throw the sheet and comforter up from the foot of the bed and it looked decent. Thank you, small Boston Terrier, for throwing our sheet on the floor and moving the comforter 90 degrees every night without fail.
  • Put your clothes either into the drawer from whence they came or the hamper when you take them off.  WHY IS THIS SUCH A STRUGGLE?! Flat spaces and chairs in bedrooms should be banned. We all know clothing with likely pile up on them. Let’s just end the charade. (But how?!)
  • Sprinkle baking soda everywhere and roll in it for good luck. (This isn’t actually a thing but it probably could be. Cheap, full body microdermabrasion, anyone?!)

Are there any small, daily things people could recommend to help me stop with the random bouts of manic cleaning?

 

 

The Terrifying Hobby Horse

I’ve always been a little leery when someone asks me about my hobbies. I just don’t know what to say. It isn’t that I don’t have interests. I do. But how do you explain broad areas of interest to people you barely know. People are more interested in something concrete like “what-you-do-for-fun” than you liking to get coffee with friends or your penchant for true crime TV. What even counts as a “hobby”? Can I include wondering what food I will eat next, purveying Netflix for good shows I haven’t watched, researching how to get rid of extreme anxiety?! No…Okay then.

I once had an interesting date with a guy I met online (who happened to have dated a friend of a friend who he later discovered was a lesbian… is this awkward enough yet?!) who ONLY wanted to talk about HIS hobbies. Occasionally, he would ask about my thoughts on whatever category of thing HE was talking about. But even that didn’t interest him much. Example:

Hobby man: “… so that’s why I really have always loved baseball. What is YOUR favorite sport?!”

Me: “Well, I’m not a huge sports fan, but I like to play basketball and enjoy watching football.”

Hobby man: “OH GOD. I HATE basketball. I do martial arts though….”

Me: “Oh, really?! I did Taekwondo for a year when I was a kid.”

Hobby man: “Taekwondo is a weak marshal art. It looks good on paper, but is ineffective in real life.”

Me: “Oh. Okay… Like communism?”

I tossed in the towel and decided to go the humor route with this man of many hobbies. This coincidentally was also a man who I did not go on a second date with. I envy only his staunch sense of what he likes (and DOES NOT like) to do.

It’s not bad to have hobbies. I think it’s great. I just have no idea what to say my hobby is. Many of the things I care about and spend my time on are not immediately tangible. Furthermore, I’m afraid of people assuming I am an avid connoisseur of whatever it is I casually mention I like doing.

I don’t like telling people I enjoy jogging, reading and doing yoga because the truth is I like to do these things (meaning even have time to do these things) a couple of days a week. I don’t want to risk being classified as a “runner” or a “yogi.” With that might come any combination of the following:

1) Forever being asked about that hobby in social situations and/or getting gifts related to that activity for the next twenty years

2) Possible judgment (such as, “she isn’t thin enough to be a runner” or “she said she likes to read but when I ask what she is reading she doesn’t have new book suggestions”)

3) People thinking you should do that activity with them to bond, but they are actually way more into it than you and it gets awkward fast (jogging with someone training for a half marathon, an advanced hot yoga class, etc.).

Let it be known, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR PERFECTION, PEOPLE.

Anyway, I am trying to incorporate more of the things that nurture my soul (cooking, talking to friends, playing games with my family, walking Sammy the dog, exercising, crocheting, etc.) into my days. However, I still will probably stare blankly at people when they ask “what do you like to do for fun?” I’d rather they talk about anything else. ANYTHING. The Loch Ness Monster. Big foot. Anime. Video games. My Little Pony. Because, if you really want to know me, just listen to what I say about the topics you choose to discuss. I’m cool with it. You’ll quickly find out I just liking talking to people and occasionally doing other things.

I’m TERRIFIED of the hobby horse.  

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

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I care pretty deeply about how people feel. This might sound noble, but it isn’t always a good thing. It is both my virtue and my vice. When someone is sad or angry or hurt or has an issue with me, I want so badly to resolve it that sometimes I don’t let the situation breathe.

You could ask my husband. He is someone who needs a little space to think things through, especially if we have had a serious discussion or an argument. I, on the other hand, have to actively stop my impulse to sit near him and ask how and/or when we can figure it out. I’m learning and getting better at that though.

Slowly.

I also have to stop myself from comparing myself to others. I want to be the best version of myself and, somehow, this can go awry very quickly. I can think about what I am not rather than focus on how I am doing. Sometimes, this makes me feel depressed and whatever amount of self-compassion I possess (and have desperately worked to cultivate) goes right out the window. This leaves me often blaming myself for things (both situations and perceived shortcomings) that realistically have nothing to do with me. I’m working on this too.

Side note: How do we take responsibility for ourselves but not blame ourselves unjustly? Because not everything is one’s fault, but obviously sometimes a situation is your fault… Maybe knowing the difference is half the battle.The questions of adulthood…

In any event, I have been thinking a lot about the true fact that comparing oneself to others mostly just steals your own joy. Your thighs might not be as toned as hers, you might not be as strong as him, you might not outwardly seem as happy as someone else, but focusing on those people and drawing comparisons negates (at least in your own mind) what you are. It also puts the other person in a weird situation.

Your legs get you from point A to point B. You are strong. You are where you need to be. And if you aren’t, isn’t your energy better used getting yourself to a happier place? (You know what they say… your dreams don’t work unless you do.) That someone else is beautiful or has a lot of friends or has 6 pack abs or is friendly and happy says nothing about you. Nothing. Yet we make ourselves miserable by drawing comparisons where there need not be any. Don’t we have enough to deal with without allowing ourselves to go too far down the rabbit hole of comparison?

To have a more abundant life, I’m working hard on changing my mindset. I encourage you to have a think about the comparisons you draw between yourself and people in your life (or even people on the street, in magazines, on the subway, at Subway…wherever).

I will leave you with these quotes I have been pondering lately:

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

  • Ernest Hemingway

And…

“I am not interested in competing with anyone. I hope we all make it.”

  • Erica Cook

We all have a unique set of challenges in this life. The truth we have in common is that we all need to respect ourselves and others. We need to be kind to ourselves, to the other humans we share the world with, and stop it with the comparisons.

I hope we all make it. I really do.

A Sushi Date Night

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Awkward lighting makes me look like the joker…

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Our materials (sans the ingredients) ready to roll (har har).

We have had a ridiculously stressful week. Examples of our current stressors include: our money being deposited into someone else’s savings account (HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?!), my insurance company magically not having me enrolled when I went to pick up a prescription, trying to move out of our current apartment while searching for new apartments, Sammy the dog having an unexplained bacterial infection that caused a huge lump on his face… I could go on but I’ll not bore you with the gory details. Long story short, we needed a night out.

I had gifted Mike with a sushi making class for Valentine’s Day. I found an awesome deal on Groupon and I knew he would be excited about it. He is much more of a sushi lover than I. We finally decided to cash in the present. 6 months after the fact. Better late than never, amiright?!

It was a bit of a drive to get to the restaurant that was hosting “Sushi 101” but it was nice to chat and listen to music on the car ride there. We heard this song no less than 5 times on the drive.

Once we got there and the class commenced, we quickly realized it had two parts. They projected a video recorded message on a screen from the chef (who I thought would be conducting the class), then two assistants did demonstrations on how to make three different kinds of rolls. At first I was like “WAIT, WHERE IS THE CHEF?! AHHHHHH. THIS IS NOT WHAT I THOUGHT IT WOULD BEEEE.” But the assistants ended up being a lot of fun and the class felt really relaxed, which I liked. I also overheard them talking about the chef and he sounds like a dick anyway. So, we dodged that bullet.

I was surprised that it wasn’t too difficult to make sushi, just somewhat precise (does that distinction makes sense?!) The main tips were to spread the rice appropriately (not so much as to cover the nori completely with no gaps but enough to make everything stick), to not over or under fill with ingredients, and to roll slowly, making sure no ingredients fall out. Also, cutting the rolls took surprising finesse. You have to gently rock the knife back and forth to cut through. Mike struggled a little with this and his first roll got a bit smashed, but it still tasted great! He caught on after the first roll. It got a lot easier for me too. Practice makes perfect, as they say.

I liked that they put out all the ingredients and let you put whatever you wanted in your rolls. I like creative license. I am not a huge seafood person (by which I mean, I don’t like it) so I stuck with combinations of cream cheese, avocado, mango, tofu, jalapeño and cucumber. They were really yummy. We got to make three rolls each and then do some extras if we wanted, since there were leftover ingredients. SO. MUCH. SUSHI. I had one roll and was stuffed. I got to eat the rest for lunch the next day. Bonus.

Anyway, we had a ton of fun. If you are having a tough week or a rough day, cut yourself some slack, take a break from whatever is burdening you, and do something enjoyable with someone you love.

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The happy sushi makers obligatory date night selfie.

When life gets tough, the tough make sushi, as the old proverb says. It says that, right?!

Cornstarch and Other Groundbreaking News

I made a couple of jaw breaking discoveries about cornstarch this week. First of all here is a killer sauce for stir fry, with cornstarch as its consistency hero:

– The juice of 1 orange

– A minced clove of garlic

– Fresh ginger, ground in food processor or chopped

– Soy sauce to taste

– 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch

Just whisk together all ingredients and pout into a skillet that is over medium high heat, stir it around for a minute or two until it starts to thicken, throw in some veggies (broccoli and carrots and peppers are great, but you do your thang) and voila! We were going to add chicken but ended up not having any (actually, we did have some but we had narrowly let it go bad–kitchen real talk) so we cooked meatless chicken patties, chopped them up, and threw them in at the last minute. It was really good! If you make this, adjust the recipe however you like. I kind of just threw stuff in and tasted it. I do recommend something along these lines though as it is a super quick dinner. Thank you, cornstarch.

The other use is for getting out stains! Mike (my husband if you are unfamiliar with the blog and/or bad with context clues) had a grease stain on a wool shirt he loves. It had been washed and dried at least once, so I didn’t have high hopes for it ever coming out. In a last ditch attempt, I rubbed some dish soap into the stain and sprinkled a healthy amount of cornstarch over the soap. By “healthy amount” I actually mean that the cornstarch came out really quickly so there was a small white mountain on the shirt. I thought it was fine since I wrapped it up neatly before gently placing it in the hamper. However, Sam (our Boston Terrier) was standing next to me when I was collecting the laundry to take to wash and…poof.

Attack of the cornstarch.

Attack of the cornstarch.

Anyway… at least Sam’s plight was not all for naught… The cornstarch treatment actually worked! When the shirt came out of the wash and we let it air dry, the stain was totally gone!

Anyway, in other pressing news:

Ariana Grande licking a donut and saying she hates America earlier this month was investigated by police. No charges were filed in donutgate. This scandal is ridiculous.

I FINALLY LISTENED TO “SERIAL.” Oh my gosh. We listened to the whole season in a week. I am fascinated by true crime and examining what might have gone wrong with a case is kind of my jam. I actually wrote a 31 page paper in high school about Sacco and Vanzetti. I was rapt the whole time. If you haven’t listened and you like that kinda thing, do it now. You won’t be sorry.

Today I realized that a magazine I bought a couple of month’s ago boasts on it’s cover, “Bathing Suits to Solve Every Problem.” When I noticed this I thought, “Solve every problem… like what?! homelessness? poverty? racism? homophobia? sexism?!” On a similar note, my not super svelte self recently bought a slightly cropped top I thought was cute in a store (it was 6 bucks!) and the cashier told me it was a “brave” choice. It’s a crop top. Not chemotherapy. C’mon…

I’ve been super busy with school (and many random panic attacks :() lately so I have slacked a bit on the ol’ blog a bit. I will try to keep up.

What have you been up to this summer? What is an around the house item you find helpful in cleaning, cooking or crafting? Comment or shoot an e-mail to karacterspace@gmail.com and say heywhatsuphello!

Silence is Violence #sayhername

This is a blog post I have wanted to write for a long time but simply did not know what words to ascribe to my thoughts. I have so often mulled over and felt grief about the racially motivated tragedies that have been highlighted in the news over the past year and a half. Notice I said highlighted because this has been happening in our country for years. Racism has not gone away, but as a white woman I do not always notice it. But I am looking at it now. The pain it causes me to think about the dehumanization of blacks and minorities is nothing compared to what is experienced daily by so many. This needs to stop. Silence is tacit compliance. I cannot be silent about this any longer. An excerpt from a post I recently read helped me understand how racism is too often viewed by white people. It read:

White people do not think in terms of we. White people have the privilege to interact with the social and political structures of our society as individuals. You are “you,” I am “one of them.” Whites are often not directly affected by racial oppression even in their own community, so what does not affect them locally has little chance of affecting them regionally or nationally. They have no need, nor often any real desire, to think in terms of a group. They are supported by the system, and so are mostly unaffected by it.

What they are affected by are attacks on their own character. To my aunt, the suggestion that “people in The North are racist” is an attack on her as a racist. She is unable to differentiate her participation within a racist system (upwardly mobile, not racially profiled, able to move to White suburbs, etc.) from an accusation that she, individually, is a racist. Without being able to make that differentiation, White people in general decide to vigorously defend their own personal non-racism, or point out that it doesn’t exist because they don’t see it.

You can read the rest of John Metta’s post here.

Because this unjust system benefits us, we should not rest on our laurels or (worse yet) try to “explain” that racism doesn’t exist or attempt to rationalize racial inequalities. There is not equality (a level playing field, if you will) so you can’t try to say that the “road goes both ways” and “it had nothing to do with race, stop making it about that.” These acts inherently are about race. The system itself is racist.  And, while we are at it, black people cannot be “racist.” Racism (and all -isms including sexism, ageism, etc.) is comprised of prejudice and power. So, a black person could have racial bias or prejudice toward someone but it is not the same thing as racism. It gets under my skin (I can’t imagine how much it upsets people of color) when someone tries to flip a script that was written by white men and try to pass it off as evidence that things are equal.

What we need to do is listen and stop trying to make excuses. Listen, BELIEVE others experiences as part of a system that is rigged against them and ACT. WE NEED TO DO BETTER. WE NEED TO SPEAK OUT.

Mondays with Marguerite

The Human Development class I attend twice weekly offers some pretty good zingers from my professor (who is a founding faculty member of our program and mentee of Abraham Maslow’s close friend–holla!). Enjoy.

Student: “Don’t fingernails continue to grow after death?”

Marguerite: “Yes… (*intense pause*) So make sure you get a manicure before you go.”