Friday, July 29, 2016


You know when you think of something amazing, but forget to write it down...?

Last night, I had a delightful, delicious, mind-blowing *thing* pop into my head, and it was fantastic, but as I sit here today, of course, it is gone...

Reminds me of all of those scenes where the secret of ultimate happiness is discovered by a bunch of guys sitting around getting totally baked, but when they come out of it, they can't remember what it was...

Such a drag...

True inspiration hits us all, some more than others. I like to think that it hits me a lot, and it does--I just happen to be unbearably lazy about it.  

OK, that isn't entirely true. It may be because words escape me at a particular moment, and I can't do inspiration justice by trying to write it down--kind of like trying to describe exactly how you feel at the height of sexual pleasure...

...tough gig.

I read once that the reason we meditate using the name of our higher power is that it is about the only word we can manage to spit out at the exact moment we're having an orgasm--that our true pleasure is inextricably linked to that sound.

Now there's something to think about.

The French call orgasm "la petite mort"--the little death. Apparently this name comes from the notion that you leave a little bit of your life with your lover at that moment. How beautifully French.

I would argue that this is also true with all moments of divine guidance that are acted upon--you leave a little bit of your life in that work that you do--that painting, that sculpture, song, poem, or stupid essay about inspiration.

The little death.

It would seem, then, that one should never, ever waste that inspiration. After all, you are giving away little bits of you. Perhaps you should ask, what part of you do you want to share?

Nothing worries me more than a person who doesn't share--especially when that person is me. I have to wonder...what is happening to all of that life that is gone forever, and doesn't have a home, simply because I didn't think to write something down?

If you think that was deep, you should have heard the thing I forgot...

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Eat! You're Wasting Away...

To break up the monotony of my heavy thoughts, here is a recipe.

Everyone has gotta eat, right?

Disclaimer: It's not really a recipe. I write recipes like I write concert reviews, which is to keep it vague. Vague! Everyone showed up! People clapped! We drank! It was amazing! That way, I accept no blame when you go to see them and hate it. If you cook this and hate it? Meh...maybe you just weren't cool enough for the experience. That's how horrible people do these things.

Stuff you need:
A rice cooker
Unless you really know what you're doing, not optional. Read on...

Surprise! You did not see that coming, did you? But seriously...use whatever rice you like. I use whole grain, multi-grain, wild, whatever. I do not use white rice for this dish because you are cooking meat at the same time you are cooking the rice, so, make it take a while to cook--you've got time. Brown rice takes a while, so...use that.

Liquid for Cooking Rice
Water, broth, etc. Follow your package directions for the amount, BUT short the liquid slightly--meaning if you are making a cup of rice and your rice needs two cups of water to cook per the package, use 1.75 one and a half teaspoons. Maybe. You have some frozen and liquid-y ingredients coming up what will make up the difference. Don't sweat it.

Did you ever notice that when I a post a recipe, it usually has spinach in it? Why is that? I'm hardly Popeye in the spinach consumption department, but there it is....again.  Fresh, frozen, unimportant. Yes, really.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper
Did you ever notice that when I a post a recipe, it usually has roasted red bell pepper in it? Why is that? I used the jarred kind, but if you must roast your own, please do. Don't burn the house down.

Hot Sauce
Don't skip this. Maybe you're thinking, "I don't like hot food." First of all, I hate to be the one to have to tell you, but if you don't use hot sauce in your life, you're not really living, you're just sort of existing until the inevitable. Second of all, the hot sauce doesn't make it hot. I use a couple of teaspoons, no big deal. Why use it? Because of the spinach. I was married to Jim Payne, and you don't come away from that experience without learning that you have to add heat to greens when you cook them, period. This is not even open for discussion. If you have no hot sauce, use cayenne pepper. Note to connoisseurs of hot sauce:  I like a habanero sauce from Pepper Palace for this, called "America". I don't know why it has that name. It's a good, all purpose sauce with its best feature being that it doesn't taste like buffalo wings (*cough* *cough*).

I might die if not for Williams Sonoma Ultimate Roast Chicken Rub. That stuff is magic. I definitely would not have lost 70 pounds without it. You buy it, and you try it out on roast chicken, like it says in the directions...then you realize what you have, and start sprinkling it on pork, on cooked vegetables like broccoli, in soups--pretty much everywhere. I don't use it on beef, or seasoned meats like ham, sausage, etc. But everywhere else. Everywhere. *sigh* I love it as much as my record collection. Now...say you don't have any, or can't get any...then what? Use your judgment. Here is that the company says is in it: "Kosher salt, black pepper and garlic. Traditional herbs and spices, including fennel, thyme and cayenne. Hints of tangy lemon and aromatic mustard add a lively finishing touch." The lemon is sort of key, here so if nothing else, be sure to add salt and some lemon juice to this dish. If you buy the seasoning, please leave some for me--I love you and everything but I have to protect my stash. And yes, I totally wrote a review for it on that page. It's so good.

Your favorite variety of boneless and preferably skinless chicken. Fresh or frozen, unimportant. Yes, really, as long as you're not using huge frozen pieces--it does have to cook through in the space of an hour, after all.  Uncooked, preferred, but ultimately you can use leftover chicken here, too. You can also skip it and have a vegetarian thing--it's all good. I use frozen tenderloins most often.

Make the thing:

Notice no volumes in my ingredients? your volumes around the rice. Serving one person? Use a half cup of rice, as much chicken as you will eat, and a good handful of spinach. If you like more or less spinach, or bell pepper, or seasoning, base it on your rice ratio.

So! Into the bowl of your rice cooker, add rice, rice cooking liquid, spinach, bell peppers (cut into quarter-inch dices), hot sauce and seasonings. Don't skimp on those last two things. Stir that. Add chicken. Close the lid. Push the button to start the rice cooker. Walk away.

In an hour or so, that brown rice will be done, and the chicken will be done, and all of the flavor will be sucked into the rice and you'll be in some kind of food nirvana. Don't fight it. Think about all the ways your life may be lacking, and replace it with this feeling. Solve your problems with food, like the rest of us.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

There's Your Trouble

I ran across an old, online photo album the other day.

Well...if we're being honest, I got a little pop-up on my phone saying, "Hey, remember all these great times from six years ago?" and I fell for it.

Oh Google, how you do keep track.

I flipped through as many of the images as I could bear to see. There are reasons why I am not nostalgic, besides the fact that I don't want to see the bad hair or bad clothes, or the unhealthy and unhappy me.

(Time out, just to say, "Fuck you, Six Years Ago! And Ten Years Ago, too...")

Should I be feeling introspective? Grateful I'm not that person anymore?  Some would look at those images and wish they were still her. Never I. Even the pictures of my children were painful--they are infinitely better now than we were then (as am I), and I'm not entirely sure why we maintain a record of a time when we were all so intensely uncomfortable. The worst part of it all might be knowing that at the time, I probably was feeling pretty good compared to how I felt the 5 or 10 years previous.

There is no part of youthful stupidity I miss--even if my "youth" in this case was me at 40. At 40, I thought I knew things. In truth, I did know things, but none of the things I knew turned out to be important.

I knew how to maintain what I had, and the life that I was living, but paid no attention to whether it was what I actually wanted.

There's your trouble.

Being what I would call a "malleable" person is a hazard. You wouldn't think it would be, because it makes it so easy to get along with everyone. I enjoy most of what life throws my way because I like new things, like being shown things, and like "checking in" to a particular experience from time to time.

And then...I wake up months, or years later, all bent out shape.

If I have one regret it's that I wish I had learned that I'm in a great place while alone, much earlier in my life. That's not a statement against the men in my life, or friends I have; it is just a realization that I am fairly weak, easily pulled in many directions, and end up, as the man once said, "far, far away from my heart."

That's a place one should never go. 

Well...maybe drive to the overlook and have a peek, but then step away from the edge and go back to your car. Nothing good happening here. Go home.

None of this is to say that I can't have a relationship, or friends--more the opposite of that, really. Now I know. Now I know what I want those things to be, and I have them as I want them, not as they are thrust upon me. It's lovely.

I was reminded of a thing I wrote a hundred years ago, about a guy--he acted as if I was worth his time, but under direct questioning, finally denied it. I talked about, among other things, discovering that all of the good things I did for myself, all of the horrible things I did to myself...I created those things. It was me all along. The idea of being dragged around by doesn't hold water if we want to say, in the next sentence, that someone inspired me to do good things. I can run a marathon fueled by "good" inspiration. I forget that the discomfort, the unhealthiness, the door mat behavior--all of that was also inspired. Instead of inspiring me to run, it inspired me to stop, and for me, stopping is death.

I'll refrain from nuking that entire online photo album, even though I hate virtually every image in it. I read some time ago about a woman who hated to be photographed, as I do. She said she was not happy with her appearance, and there are plenty of occasions I feel the same about mine. Then one day, she realized that she wasn't going to be here forever, and she envisioned her children wishing they had more photographs of her. That day, she started allowing herself to be photographed. I've moved in that direction, somewhat. Of course, I can say "yes" to having my picture taken occasionally now that I've put in a LOT of work to get physically healthy and mentally happy--I am horribly vain, after all--but it is not for me to say whether my children found me beautiful at that time in my life when I wasn't. The ugly old me will stay in that digital vault, although I should make it clear I will haunt them from the great beyond if any of those photos turn up in any public forum and/or my funeral announcement.

Just sayin'...

The past, then, has the same purpose it always did: to be a sort of dumb place where we existed because we didn't know any better, and to emit enough of a stench to remind us that we must never return. I don't have to like it, but for me to exist, it must, as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

In Which I Discuss Ways I Am Still Horrible, After All These Years

In honor of Season Two of the brilliant Difficult People (@DifficultOnHulu), a small celebration of day-to-day horrible-ness:
  • I expect some kind of accolade for loading the dishwasher. I have a friend who does not allow dirty dishes to sit in her kitchen sink. She is so on top of the dishes that the minute her dishwasher stops, she unloads it and puts things away, thereby presenting a situation in which the dishwasher is empty and she can put dirty dishes IN it AS they get dirty. My method, as you may have guessed, involves stacking rinsed-but-still-dirty dishes in the sink while I "unload" the dishwasher with the "I'll take it out of there when I need to use it" process. If this is also your method, then you know that by the time you get around to actually loading the stupid dishwasher again, it's a chore. You have to unload the last few things and then reload the pile of other things, some of which won't fit, so you have to wash them by hand. I complete this task and say things like, "Ta-Dah! Clean sinks!" to an empty room, as if every other person on Earth is as lazy as I am, but I alone have overcome it.
  • This would be a good time to mention that I expect joy and happiness to be the result of most of the things I do around the house, no matter how mundane. If I wash the floors, though...that's some "Worshippers please park in the over-flow lot," shit.
  • Being a woman living alone has not, in any way, stopped me from thinking that the man should be taking out the trash. The trash piles up and I think, "Why hasn't he taken out the trash yet?  What the fuck?" Then I remember the last human male who lived in the same house as me has been dead for almost four years. I think about getting a boyfriend, strictly for the purposes of having someone to take out the trash.
  • I stand firm in the belief that the dead guy would have laughed at that last bullet point, and, selfishly, the main thing I miss about him is the fact that he thought I was funny. I can hear him laughing. He's probably laughing because I have to take out my own trash.
  • I feel good about myself because my fantasy trash-removing boy-toy doesn't need to buy me things to make me happy, know. I'm a modern woman with my own money, damn-it! Why is this garbage still sitting here?
  • If somebody doesn't think my jokes are funny, I assume there is a massive cultural barrier or maybe they are just deeply insecure. Could be both. It's probably both.
  • I play Competitive Twitter. If I told you what that was, I would immediately lose Competitive Twitter. 
  • I also play Competitive Duo Lingo. That's when you act like, "Hey, no big deal, just brushing up on my Greek/Russian/French/German/Spanish..." but in truth you're compulsively powering through lessons to get more points than your followers/friends. Then you friends say, "wow, you've really come a long way in (Insert Language Here)," and you chuckle, knowing you might be able, one day, to buy an apple from a Frenchman who was dropped on his head as a child and therefore has limited verbal abilities. You probably won't be comfortable enough to come up with sexy, naughty things to say in the heat of the moment with a fully functional (ahem) Frenchman in bed, but you'll beat your friends at Duo Lingo and I think we can all agree that's the real joy of language learning software.
  • The other kind of Competitive Duo Lingo is when you tell every-fucking-body that you're using Duo Lingo and act like they're idiots if they're not. I'm always winning at that, because I'm horrible. I'm horrible enough that I wish "Je suis une horrible personne" was more impressive-looking and complicated, for the purposes of this blog so I could seamlessly weave another Duo Lingo reference into this post, to make it look like it's so hard, but so rewarding.
Ultimately, this list could on and on. The one non-horrible thing I'll do here tonight is end it. You're welcome. Don't say I never did anything nice...although, if you do say that, I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding someone to believe you.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Luxurious Vacation Post

You know how sometimes you go on vacation and think, "That was awesome, where should I go next?"

I just had this thing where I thought, "That was awesome, and I would do that again."

We went to Hawaii Island (The Big Island) with plans to hike, and watch sunsets and swim and do the stuff you do in Hawaii. We did that stuff! And we did other stuff that never occurred to me because that's what happens when you travel with other people. You do stuff you didn't plan. It's helpful for us psycho control freaks to clock in to island time once in a while and let things happen without shoving them in a particular direction. I think that's what Hawaii is all about. I was so relaxed, nobody annoyed me! Unheard of...

The highlights:
  • My skin tone went from, "Probably a North-of-England Bloodline," to "Obvious Tourist But Not a Complete Amateur." Completely acceptable.

  • Rental car upgrade, to a Cadillac SRX with a kick ass engine. I wanted to take the car home with me because I love it.

  • Freaked everyone out while having the Best. Time. Ever. driving a curvy road cliff-side in the Cadillac. It was all quite tame and I never left my lane, but the four other people in the car were white knuckling it. Meh. Nobody died.

  • Grouchy traveler (me) bitched and moaned to the airline about the seat shuffling that ended with us sitting all over the plane, not together. Airline response: travel vouchers! You get a voucher! You get a voucher! Everyone gets a voucher! Complaining works. This is a good thing, because it's one of my very few marketable skills.

  • I had a cold. A miserable fucking cold. People with whom I was traveling were annoyed with the constant coughing, coughing, coughing. The only way to get them to not complain about the coughing was to say, "If you think its annoying to listen to, try living with it for a week!" That helped so much at 2AM when my coughing woke people. They were so happy with that.

  • We hiked Pololu, but just looked at Waipio. That's a fail, for me but, see "I had a cold," above, for my excuse. Next time, Waipio. You too, Pu'u Wa'a Wa'a.

  • Had to skip Mauna Kea--looked at it the entire time we were there, but didn't drive up because of the being barely able to breathe at sea level, thing. In fact, all altitude changes were straight-up painful--an ear popping horror show. All because of a stupid cold.

  • Hiked Volcanoes National Park. Again, it was not as much as I would have liked but, we had a good walk and saw the fire hole. It's called a fire hole, right? (Ignore me, I'm an idiot.)

  • Swam with the fishes and had only a brief, mild panic about the whole "breathing" part of snorkeling. When I was a kid, I was like a fish in the lake--we used to play a game with a pop can filled with rocks. Someone would throw it, it would sink to the bottom, and we'd dive in and get it, no mask, no snorkel, eyes wide open, well over our heads. Those were the days. It was hard to learn to snorkel because even the minimum equipment is just so unnatural to me. Last time we were in Hawaii I tried mightily to dive the way I was used to, but the ocean is much stronger than I, so, it sucked, even at very shallow depths. Skimming the surface for a few hours with a snorkel turned out to be pretty good, though, when we found the right place. Lots of great fish, here, and happily no pop cans at the bottom.

  • Swam some more, with no gear, because one must. I would live in the water if I could.

  • I finally got with the tikis. When I researched this trip over a year ago, one of the first things I saw was a pic of the tikis at the Place of Refuge. Ancient, carved wood tikis, weathered grey. (That pic of me grinning like a dork in between the two angry-looking fellows was taken there.) I was inspired by them and I made a little design of a tiki surfing, with the water under the surf board made into the shape of the words "Big Island". Some of my best work, if I do say so myself. I made a bunch of t-shirts for us, with that design on it, and they turned out great. I suppose I could have worn the tiki surfing shirt when I met the actual tikis but it turns out they stand on sacred ground and probably my best work would have been super-tacky...just like all my other work.

  • I did a "tourist" day during which I walked around in a sun dress and sandals, carrying a handbag and buying things. One of the things I bought was...another handbag. This was all incredibly glorious after all of the hiking, during which a Camelbak day pack was my "purse". Neon yellow backpack vs. purple leather Coach bag. Both OK, but only one says, "girl" and sometimes you need that.

  • Kona Brewing Company waiter, we would have bought a lot more food and drinks from you if we didn't have a plane to catch...definitely dreamy, but at the same time reminded me of an ex-boyfriend of mine who was a bit of a flake. But...surely Hot Waiter Guy isn't a flake, right? I'm sure he is one of the few intensely great looking men who is perfectly mature, stable and balanced. You can say that about someone you will never see again. He can be perfect for our purposes...

  • People on Hawaii Island are incredibly nice. I want to hug them all. They're all rolling their eyes right now, aren't they? Stupid tourist...

  • Thanks Hassid family, for letting us use your amazing house. Expectations exceeded. Wonderful place. If you go, Waikoloa is excellent! 

  • Home again, no luggage lost, and weirdly hit almost all green lights between the airport and the house. I can hear the men building a patio across the way, and the singer doing his voice lesson a couple doors down. Cats don't seem to hate me and my bed still accepts me. All good.