28 November 2009

adventures In the Kitchen! (almost)

I've got this honking huge bag of blueberries in my freezer from my mother-in-law and I'm not really sure what I should do with them. I've mixed them in things like yogurt and put them on top of pancakes, and they're okay but hardly anything to get excited about.


I baked them. In a muffin mix. One word: Wow. Something about baking the blueberries releases some sort of mouth-wateringly delicious
and magical property that I cannot resist. (cooking them in pancakes is good, too, but it doesn't quite measure up to the muffins)

I ran out of muffin mix (oh sadness) but it's okay! We've got the stuff to make 'em from scratch, and although I'm not a great cook, I can follow a recipe.

Or so I thought.

I'm reading over this "simple" recipe I found online and I'm getting confused. What's with all the weird words? And why all the extra steps? Does alternating the milk with the flour as you mix it in make that much of a difference? How would it? All the ingredients will end up together in the same bowl and then into the oven, right? How crucial is it, exactly, for me to "sift" the flour and baking powder?

Rookie questions, I know. But I'm extremely lazy, especially when it comes to cooking (or baking). I want to do as little as possible but still get the same result. So let me ask you this, if I were to forgo the "sifting" and the "alternating" and just threw everything into the bowl, mixed it together, and threw it in the oven...I'd still get muffins in the end, right? It's not like skipping the sifting step will turn them into cookies or flatbread, right?

I think the author of this recipe is just trying to make baking look harder than it really is, possibly as an attempt to come across as impressive to their doctor and lawyer friends.

We're going to try this thing my way. The easy way. The lazy way. I'll let you know how it turns out.

If it goes well, I may write a book: "The Easy, Lazy Cookbook for Easy, Lazy People." ...the title may need some refining.

27 November 2009

I'm Going To enjoy this break Like i've Never Had a break before In My LIfe

Happy Thanksgiving.

I hope you enjoy our strange gluttonous holiday. It makes no sense, but it's tradition! which excuses all behavior that would otherwise be unacceptable.

So bring on the pie and let's sleep until noon! Hoo-ha!

25 November 2009

crappy Digital Camera strikes AGAIN!

My garbage disposal ate a plastic spoon today.

It's been in a bad mood ever since.

Speaking of bad moods!

I had a dream last night that I and a group of random people were trying to complete some sort of task, but we couldn't communicate or get anything done because in the background, blaring on the radio, was Taylor Swift's song Romeo and Juliet (that's probably not the title, but you know the song I'm talking about).

Over and over and over and over and over and...


Then I woke up and the song WOULD NOT get out of my head. If there was even a small pause in my stream of thought, the song would start up again.

I've had songs stuck in my head before, but they've never been this persistent or aggressive before!

Every time it would start going again I'd yell as loud as I could (in my head) "Shut UP Taylor and leave me alone!!!" The song is gone now (after several hours of listening to a plethora of other songs and artists) but I still feel on edge and slightly schizophrenic.

24 November 2009

we're Still in The 21st century, Right?

A man, a Navy soldier, gave his nephew a suspicious look after a joke had been made and said, "Wait...are you really? You're not. Okay, 'cause I'd have a problem with you if you were a Communist."

(go ahead and give yourself a moment of silence and a puzzled expression. that's what I did.)

I didn't say anything, but it struck me as odd. Who talks about Communists these days, 2009, as if it's a secret conspiracy group from the 1950's? The only people who are still nervous when you mention the word "Communism" are the much older generation, now dying off at ripe ages of 80 - 90 yrs old, and we want to be gentle to the elderly so we refrain from saying the dreaded C-word in their presence. This Navy soldier was young, early 40's maybe late 30's young. What was he worried about Communists for?

Frankly, my grandfather quite liked the idea of Communism. Not exactly the way Karl Marx planned it out, and he certainly disagreed with the Soviet Union's attempt to make a Marxist society work, but the basic concept of having no social classes and all people laboring equally for all people's equal benefit, under a single benevolent ruler, appealed to him. It would be a plausible Utopia if our base human natures didn't keep getting in the way. We get power-hungry, greedy, and corrupt. Not to mention lazy and consumed in our own selfish endeavors.
My grandfather believed that the Second Coming (oh no, religion! run! hide!) would bring about a society with striking resemblance to Communism.

Now you see the concept of Communism I've grown up with: it's a paradisaical idea and simply can't work for people as we are now. We know it doesn't work because there are those who tried it and it failed. Pretty miserably. And now we've moved on. *shrug* No big deal.

So what was this Navy guy's issue?

Granted, I'm overwhelmingly under-informed in this issue. I was not around in the Cold War. I wasn't constantly terrorized by my government and local leaders that "the Commies are gonna nuke us." I haven't read Karl Marx's Manifesto. (Unless excerpts count. Do excerpts count? Yes? No. I thought not...) So who am I to question any man's opinions of Communists? Especially this man, a soldier in the United States Navy?

The more I think about it, though, the more I wonder if this man is not against the actual idea of Communism (as a social theory), but rather against a vicious and sadistic stereotype that has been tied to the title "Communist," a stereotype that I'm unaware of in my uneducated state. Maybe he thinks that Communists vandalize street signs, or leave used chewing gum on the sidewalks, or beat puppies...with kittens (I wish that line were mine; I'm borrowing it from some comedian whose name is now lost to me but I'd know his face if I saw it on Youtube). Call me innocent, naive, and sheltered, but a Communist sounds like a person who's trying to think of better alternatives to their current situation.

It's possible he's judging a stereotype. Stereotypes are wrong. Only lazy ignorant people with an uncanny love for potato salad judge people by stereotypes. (Wait...didn't you just...?) And it's wrong.

I was under the impression that we were no longer overly concerned with Communism because the Cold War is over. And besides, we now have just as much (if not more) ability (and motive) to nuke ourselves as any social party out there. And we're pretty settled into our little Capitalism idea at this point, so I don't see Socialists or Communists getting much influence in that way...so why be hatin'?

Are Communists a problem? Is Communism threatening your way of life? I'm leaning towards "No" on both these questions... Let me know if I'm mistaken. It's possible I missed a memo.

23 November 2009

it Will All Be over in Four (long) weeks

I've been studying principles of design and composition for over three years now. I understand elements of repetition, rhythm, contrast, balance, line quality and color. I get it. I've taken drawing, oil painting, watercolor, and sculpture, and I've done well in all of them. I'm a good artist. I'm not the best artist, and I may not even be a great artist, but I don't suck.

I suck at Photography. There's no simpler way to put it. We're 3/4 through the semester and I've actually gotten worse since we started in August

I've never cared for photography anyway. But the class is required so I thought, "Eh, at least this way I can learn to appreciate it even if I don't pursue it any further." And at first that's exactly what happened: I learned to appreciate the work that goes into a good photograph and what qualifies it as "art." That lasted for about...oh, I'd say...two days.

It's like everything I've ever learned, and everything that any other art teacher has praised me for, is all of the sudden wrong. Just wrong. Example: we looked at two pictures of the same subject, one with a filter and one without. I thought the one on the right was the best one because the background was subdued and didn't compete with the foreground. This is an elementary concept that must be taken into account when creating any composition.

Except it's wrong.

The one on the left was better. The background got confusing with the foreground, but the "tonality" was better so apparently that makes it a good photograph.

What. The. Fetch!

This happens consistently. I've stopped raising my hand to voice my ignorant opinions and ceased all futile attempts to understand the babbling jargon and strange terminology. My new strategy is to lie low and just get through this class with a passing grade. The quicker we get to December, the quicker this will be over.

This has never been my attitude towards school. I love school. I've loved all my classes, especially art classes. But I think Photography has broken me. Twice a week when I walk out of that class I have to build myself back up, mentally repeating, "I'm a good artist, I'm a good artist, I suck at photography, but I'm a good artist..." It's discouraging.

It would be one thing if my problem were in the developing or printing stages. That would be understandable. There are a lot of steps and a lot of places where you could screw yourself over, but it would be a simple matter of correction and making a conscientious effort to be more thorough next time.

But no. I've got the developing and printing down pat.

I'm just a terrible photographer.

It's not that I can't find anything worth photographing in the natural world. I get inspired by small things all around me when I'm walking around outside or through a building...wherever. It could be the angle of two metal beams from a certain vantage point, or the color of leaves under frost, or the vibrant color of a rooftop or brick wall in the sunset, or the tenacity of a solitary green leaf in the midst of a graveyard of crunchy brown and rust-orange. It's not that I don't see the beauty around me. It's that I can't capture that moment, those emotions, in a black and white photo. As soon as my finger clicks the shutter release, the image loses its vibrancy and beauty, and becomes flat, gray, and unremarkable.

If I can paint it or draw it I can use loose lines to imply movement or mood, and use color to play on your imagination...I can make you see it the way I saw it and feel what I felt.

With a camera, all I can show you is what's there. And what's there is not all that I want to show you. There was an element of imagination that went on only in my head that made the experience worth having, and there's no way to get the sparks of delight from my mind onto the photo negative.

My professor keeps saying that the camera is a limitless medium, but I can't help feeling incredibly limited.

(this is not to discount photography as an art form, by any means. there are people who love taking pictures and are good at it, and i admire them for that talent. i'm only saying that it's not for me and hopefully i've supplied you with reasoning that can allow you to empathize with my plight)

19 November 2009

showing Consideration for The structural Integrity Of My brain

I was totally going to study and then my brain went


So I stopped.

Memorizing architecture, manuscripts and mosaics from the Dark Ages and trying to write a 5 page paper comparing/contrasting two landscape paintings will melt your brain. Take it from me, there's nothing interesting going on in the art world in the Dark Ages. And how much can you really say about a landscape painting? Really? I got to page 3 and thought that was pretty dang good.

(and it's double spaced...how embarrassing...)

I need a break. I need a book. I need to get off this computer.

my Average Life

One thing should be established before we move on. My life is good, as far as lives go: sweet husband, solid job, nice apartment, and a great family. For the most part, I really like being me. Average, yes, but I like it that way. The predictability and relative ease of it is a good fit for me.

However, I suspect that part of my soul is off living a double life without me, probably in Greenwich Village or some little coastal town in Italy.

This secret side of my soul is staying up until 3 a.m. writing poetry or drawing or painting, discussing literature with writers and other artists, sleeping in until noon, and going to art galleries and shows in the evening. This is my "inner artist" and I can't stop it from wondering and fantasizing about the carefree lifestyle I've just described. Much like Edna St. Vincent Millay when she was in Greenwich Village...minus all the sex and drugs and chronic anxiety.
(But can you really have that life without the dysfunction? The pleasure without the pain? Popular theory is that you can't. The whole point of that lifestyle is to ride on the cusp of chaos.) So I leave it alone and stick with what I know: simple and average and content.


I met a girl who embodies this imaginary side of my soul. We used to work together, that's how we met, but that was over a year ago. We haven't seen each other at all since then. Odd thing is, I didn't realize she was the embodiment of the untapped portion of my soul until months and months after I left that job. We never talked about it, we never really talked at all, so she has no idea and never will. We're friends on Facebook, but that's meaningless, really. There are people that I can't stand being around and they're my "friends" on Facebook.

Through Facebook, though, I found her blog. This is embarrassing to admit but...

I'm blog-stalking her.

She's a good writer. She reads books the way I eat food or drink water. She knows things that I wish I knew: memorable lines from great written works, names of people from historical and current politics, tenets of eastern philosophy and religion. I haven't dabbled in any of these things, but I wish I knew something about them.

(I can't believe how confidently I'm writing all this...she'll know it's her if she reads this. But here's the thing: I know that she will never, never read this because I never, never cross her mind. Never.)

My inner artist wishes I could trade places with her. The rest of me, however, knows better. I don't really want her life and she wouldn't want mine. I don't fit in that world, I don't fit with those people, and the greater part of me recognizes this. Yet she still fascinates me and I still watch her through sporadic blog posts and Facebook updates.
Admittedly, the fascination has died down some in recent weeks. Maybe I'll finally break free from whatever holds me in her wake. Deep down I can still feel my inner artist sleepily pondering her life and dreaming of its taste. But I know I wouldn't find happiness there. So I comfortably sink deeper into my own average life and I feel a wrenching pain -- my inner artist is dying, day by day, one small piece at a time.

17 November 2009

does My use of Italics distract You?

My car has been dead for the last two weeks. Students in the automotive department at my university have been working on it. It takes longer, but they're cheaper.

It was finally ready to be picked up today.

(shout praises!)

I went down to the shop, they gave me six copies of the receipt (six? What the crap are you going to do with six copies??) which I had to take down to the first level of the school, the cashier's office, to pay for it. She stamped my receipts, all six, then I hiked back up the hill to the automotive building (These buildings are not close together. I won't try to estimate distances for you, cuz I'm bad at it. Suffice it to say, they're not close) and handed him the receipts and he gave me my car key. Kind of a long process just to pay for a car, but I won't complain. It's done now. Sweet.

Only thing left to do is drive my car out of the garage door and into the parking lot.

Little did I know that this was the tricky part.

I had to turn to the right a little to avoid a cement column and as I pulled forward there was a grating sound. Ah, probably just driving over the vents, no worries, it's all good. Until the grating turned into a screeeEEECH!!

Oh fart.

Wouldn't that just be my luck? I finally get my car back and I wreck it driving out of the repair shop! Good grief.

Well, as it turns out, a piece of machinery caught onto my tire rim when I pulled right and I had been dragging it. I didn't even see it. It was one of those...geez, I don't know if they have a name...it has two ramps, one for each tire, so you can drive up and onto a higher platform (Would that be considered "machinery"? Not really. Let me re-phrase: "a car repair prop caught onto my tire rim...") It was dingy yellow, greasy silver and angry looking. I dragged it for about two feet before I stopped the car. Luckily I didn't hurt it at all and my car looked untouched.

So no damage done. It only took a small chunk out of my tire rim and attracted the attention of every instructor and student in the shop as they stared at the idiot girl in an idiot car dragging their idiot prop as the echo of screeeEEECH! bounced off the cement walls.

Thus marking the disintegration of the last remnant of confidence I had as a woman in a car repair shop. Almost no damage done.

My gawsh I am such a klutz (bangs head on desk).

15 November 2009

tragedy At the Bus Stop

On a cement post supporting the roof of the bus stop where I wait every weekday evening (that sounded funny...weekday evening? Can we call it weekevening?) someone has drawn a picture of Spock. Yes, the Spock. As in Star Trek and Captain James T. Kirk and the Vulcan, Spock.

It's awesome:

Can you see it? A low quality picture from my obsolete cell phone. Here's a close-up:

Brilliantly simplistic, isn't it? That is what, we in the business call, skillz. Call it graffiti if you want, but I'm calling it art and I love it.

I'm so impressed by this image I've taken pictures of it on my cell phone and sent it to people. Same response every time: "What is...*double take* Is that Mister Spock?! That's awesome!!"
I love seeing him there every time I'm at the bus stop. I like to wonder about the person who put him there and how they did it.

A week ago I went to the bus stop, sat down, looked at Spock and saw something that troubled and angered me. Over Spock's face someone had written in Sharpie marker:


I'm having a hard time forming words right now. I'm torn between "What. The. Fetch." and "That doesn't even make sense!!" and "GAH!@#!%$^&*#$@*!!!"

Are they trying to label Spock as vandalism? If that was the point, then that is the most irritating example of irony I've ever seen. Or is it some moronic version of "I was here"? Perhaps the message is actually, "[This is] VANDALISM!" If that's the case then, guess what? It's still stupid! And why did you have to write it over Spock's face?? JERK!

I don't mean to take it personally but I am taking it personally. I'm ticked off at the mystery VANDALISM-jerk and I fume every time I see it now. I want to write something underneath it. Something short, concise, that effectively portrays the indignation and frustration of all Spock lovers that have ever sat at that bus stop. How's this?:

"Everyone loved this picture of Spock.
We all thought it was awesome.
And you ruined it.
Good job."

Maybe that's too long. How about this one?:

(arrow pointing to 'VANDALISM!')
"Written by an idiot."

Perhaps I'll compose a fitting haiku. Ah, yes. It'll be poetic and classy, while being poignant and possibly stinging.

13 November 2009

ethical Dilemma?

I put chicken granules on my scrambled eggs. For flavor.

How do you think the chickens feel about that?

10 November 2009

Petty problems We All share

For years I've wanted to lose weight, but I don't want to diet or exercise.


Okay, okay. That statement isn't entirely true. As far as diet goes, I actually eat really well. I love fruits, veggies, and whole grains. My calorie intake fluctuates a bit (yay college) but it stays in normal range.

My real problem is sugar. Oh my goodness. I. Love. Sugar.
Candy, cake, cookies, ice cream, you name it, I'll eat it. (except brownies. gross.) I try to be moderate about it, but if we're being completely honest, I eat significantly more sugar on a weekly basis than the average person. This love-affair is doomed to end (eventually) due to insulin resistance and diabetes looming on the horizon of my not-too-distant future. My logic may be flawed here, but I say: enjoy it while you can.

Then exercise. I love to exercise. When I had a gym pass I was going 3 - 4 times a week and stayed about an hour or more each time. Here's the problem: my pass has expired now and I don't have money for a new one. I have asthma that doesn't react well to cold air, so jogging around the block will not be happening. Not to mention the fact that I hate running. I'm just not built for it. Everything hurts when I run: knees, ankles, lungs, arms, head...my goodness, it sounds like I'm trying to run into the sidewalk or nearby walls. I'm not (probably). Although it would explain a lot...

So what does an asthmatic with sore joints and no gym pass do for exercise?

No really, I'm asking.

I did come up with one other option. It doesn't require any drastic change to my diet or a rigorous exercise program:

Learn to accept and love my body just the way it is.



How long is that going to take? I'd have more luck on a grapefruit diet...

04 November 2009

Can you relate?

So, picture this: your hands are in water, maybe you're washing them or you're doing dishes, and you reach up, for a towel perchance, and when your wrist gets higher than your elbow the water starts to drip down your forearm...

I HATE that.

It's a small thing, a teeny-tiny detail in my life, and yet it infuriates me. In fact, I get a little bit of panic when I feel it going down because then I'm more wet than I had intended, and I don't know where that water is going. It could drip onto my foot, onto my floor, or get into my sleeve. (Gaaaah!!) I get flustered and upset, my heart rate goes up and my pupils constrict and I, well...I panic.

Because of water. On my forearm. Moving towards my elbow.

You may be thinking, what's the big deal? It's just water. You just *fwoop* wipe it off. What are you panicking about?

Well I'll tell you.

I. Don't. Know.

I've always hated the feeling of water creeping up my arm. I find myself getting angry at the water- no, not at the water, at gravity. Angry at gravity, the law of gravity, what sort of absurdity is this? What kind of crazy person has selective anger towards gravity?

Me, apparently.

Does anyone else hate that feeling? Am I really the only one? Have you ever even thought about it before now? Leave a comment and tell me! Tell me about the things that frustrate you, the little things that you don't think anyone else notices.

Even if you stumble on this and see that it was posted years ago...leave a comment anyway. Keep the conversation going.