Saturday, January 17, 2009

Reflections

You may remember that earlier today I met up with an old friend from high school. Those of you that know me well, and those of you who have been reading my blog for years know that back then I didn't have many close friends. I kept basically everyone but my boyfriend far enough away that they wouldn't see that the perfect world I'd created publicly really did not exist. Yes, I had friends and I even had a couple of best friends. But when I left high school, I was ready to make a clean break and to create a new life for myself.

This is why it is so amazing that he and I were friends. I knew that he had a troubled life but I did not know how or why. We never talked about anything like that. I'm trying to convey to you that we had nothing that normal friends in high school usually have. And yet, we somehow gravitated toward each other and did indeed become friends. Tonight I am flabbergasted once again by the human soul-especially a tormented human soul. It's astounding how without even knowing it, we gave each other the kind of friend we each needed. He wasn't my best friend, but he was someone who made me smile during a time when I felt locked in and alone.

During our lunch-turned-into-dinner tonight he told me that he doesn't remember much about high school; he did a brain dump of everything back then in order to move on. Like me, he didn't have a lot of friends (even though, like me, it appeared that he did). He told me that when looking through a website for our school (which I didn't know I was on) he saw my name among others and knew that it meant more than just someone he went to school with. Later, on facebook, he saw me again and had the same feeling. I can't really explain to you why this made me happy, but it did. I suppose it's a validation of sorts, that I made a difference in his life-even if it was a small one-and even if he doesn't remember why or how. He just knows.

Today we sat for hours talking about who we are today and detailed how we got to this point. We talked about school and how I was so sad and lonely but pretended everything was good, and how he was living in a home for boys because his parents were unfit. We talked about his kids and his wife and how she showed him a different life and that there was more than just what he had before.

Needless to say, it was a great feeling, seeing someone I thought I'd never see again and finding out that even though we don't know why, we are still friends. And it's a great feeling knowing that we'll probably continue to be friends but this time, we'll actually know things about each other.

It was a good day.

Today

Last night I dropped a lemon cake that was fresh out of the oven and perfect. I actually was able to catch it so it didn't hit the floor, but by doing so, it broke in half. I didn't have any lemons in the house and it was about eleven o'clock at night. (Random aside-I think a bird just flew into my window.) Why is this such a pain in the butt? Because today I am having late lunch/early dinner and drinks with my friend from high school and he ordered this cake for a party he's attending on Sunday. So this morning I got up very early for the time I went to bed (2am) and got lemons. It's funny how things go wrong when people pay for my food, but when I just make it to make it, it's fine. I wonder what that's all about.

So as I mentioned above, today I am meeting my friend from high school. I'm pretty excited about it and also a little nervous. I'm always nervous when I'm seeing someone for the first time in a really long time mainly because I'm self conscious. In the end it won't matter, I know, but it's just an issue I have. I'm also excited because we are going to a well known spot downtown which has really good burgers and really good beer. (Don't worry, I won't go on diet pills after this.) Of course I am excited to catch up and to learn about what he's been up to for all of these years. It's a crisp (Ok, freezing) sunny day here in Boston, and it's a great day to be out and about.

I'll end the day by coming home and relaxing with my knitting needles and the scarf I'm making. :)

I hope your Saturday is great too!

Friday, January 16, 2009

1/16 Already?

After living here for 1 year and 2 months I've finally been on every T line we have. Today I rode the blue line. It was interesting, to say the least. I reached another milestone-I saw my first fight on the T. (Oh! AND, I saw the first rodent ever on the tracks.) Gee, the blue line is very exciting.

Still no job, still no prospects, still listening to the 7 billion recruiters I've met with tell me there aren't any jobs. Unless I want to travel. WTF? Don't I live in Boston? Why are all of the jobs outside of the city? Maybe because no one wants to go there? Something's gotta give soon. In 3 days it will be 1 month of being unemployed, and I'm not very happy about that.

Today's a bad day. I think it's the combination of not getting enough sleep, waking up early, taking the T to meet another recruiter and then hearing the same thing over again. And seeing that it's 1/16 already and I'm still SOL.

I'm going to stick my head in the sand now...at least I have one order to fill. That'll cheer me up a little.

Still, I know things could be worse...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Dill Pickers

Before I start talking about my job interview today, I want to first show you a present I got in the mail today! My friend Meilsa (with one S) from Suburban Scrawl seriously rocks. Here's how it went down:

While watching the Food Network one night, I saw blurb about Vitners Dill Pickle chips. Vitners was specifically associated with Chicago and so I immediately emailed Melisa and asked her if she's ever tried them. I'm a huge fan of pickles and crispy potatoes, and the idea of both together sounded heavenly.

Here's how cool Melisa is, not only did she write back, but she told me to give her my address so she could send me some dill chips! Unfortunately these chips are hard to get, so instead, she found Pringles Dill Pickle flavor chips! Take a look at what else she added:

I'm sure that the Vitners chips are great, but these Pringles, let me tell you, are fantastic! I had to restrain myself from eating the entire bottle (?) in one sitting. As I am typing this, my mouth is watering! THANK YOU MELISA! I love my care package from Chicago. :) You're the greatest!!

Now, onto business...(I have to scroll down though, because I can still see the pickles and it's making me lose my willpower!)

OK...that's better. Today I had an interview with a real live company. I was very excited about it because it sounded like a great company with great benefits (they have a chef 4 days a week in the office and also have a gym) and the pay was great. It was right downtown so I could take the T everyday and never use my car. The only thing that worried me going in was that the recruiter called the man I would be supporting "socially awkward". What the heck does that mean? It's a strange way to describe someone, especially a candidate for the job.

I was very impressed with the office. It looked like the kind of office you see on TV-right on the water overlooking the harbor, all dark wood and deep, rich colors and frosted glass offices. It was beautiful. Everyone was really nice too. The lady who met with me first talked for 45 minutes straight about the office and the man I'd support (come to find out, "socially awkward" really just means rude). She then told me that everyone carries a Blackberry. This was my first red flag.

In case you didn't know, I am applying for executive assistant positions because though I like responsibility, I don't like the responsibility of having to drive sales or business and I hated being a manager. Who needs that stress, right? So hearing that I'd have a Blackberry made me nervous. She then went on to say that I'd have to check it when I got home, then after dinner, then before bed, then when I woke up, then of course all day at work. On the weekends I'd have to check it now and then to be sure that everything was OK, and get this-while I am on vacation I am required to take said Blackberry with me. While I am not required to work, I would need to forward all of the emails I was getting onto the person who was covering for me.

What? That's effing crazy. Everyone knows that once you open the email, you can't just send it off and forget it. And also, I'm on vacation-my earned time off. No thank you. On top of this, I'd be working for a man who was rude and who didn't know how to talk to people.

I didn't tell the girls that I was no longer interested in the job, but when I got home I called the recruiter and told her that I did not want to go back for the 2nd interview. She tried pushing me into it until I finally told her to stop. I told her life is too short to work all day everyday without breaks. Having a balance life is important to me and though I need a job, I don't want to take one that I know I will end up hating.

I should go back, I know...but I also know myself and know that in 6 months I'd just be looking for another job again. So, that's that...

On the way home I stopped to get a sandwich and when I walked out of the shop toward the T a guy stopped me and said, "Excuse me? Do you think we could go on a date?"

I said, "No. Thanks though!" and kept walking. There's nothing more to that story I just found it funny. I guess he was trying to find a woman to take with him to one of those Outer Banks rentals. If nothing else, it made me smile that a stranger thought I was pretty enough to ask me out on a date.

How was your day?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Randomivity

Having no water in your kitchen bites. Especially when you have baking orders to fill and piles of dirty dishes that you can't wash.

It's getting harder to remember what day it is. Yesterday I had to really think it out before I actually knew it was Tuesday.

I have a real life interview on Thursday and I'm excited. Even if I don't get the job, I'm hoping this is a sign that things are picking up.

One of the ladies I supported is so very sweet. We've kept in touch and she's just a really great person. I miss supporting her very much.

I had a very weird dream involving killer whales yesterday during a nap. Tisha researched it and it says that I am distrustful of something or someone. I wonder what.

The friend that I wrote about the other day (Tight(s)) and I have gone back and forth about 20 times trying to schedule a lunch or dinner and drinks. I guess he doesn't remember that I'm not the best at deciding things. :) He's a really cool guy and I can't wait to catch up and to get to know him now. (He sings in a band-I didn't know he could sing!)

I'm in desperate need of a pedicure. I got spoiled the last few month, and now I just miss it tremendously!

My social calendar has picked up. It always happens that everyone wants to get together at the same time. It's weird.

I'm going to a FREE tour on Saturday with a group of strangers. It's a brewery, so it'll be neat.

I have my first knitting lesson tonight. :)

I'm thinking of joining a gym that is up the street. They don't require a yearly commitment, which is good because when I get a job, I'll want a gym near work-and hopefully it'll be downtown and I'll have more options. Sitting on my butt all of the time isn't good at all. (I take walks, but you can't really power walk on icy sidewalks.

Nothing crazy or funny happened to me this week.

I am still not using diet supplement.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Old Skool Photos

As you know, I got a new printer last week and it's already come in handy-especially with my etsy shop. Earlier today I needed to dig into my "attic" to find white paper for the printer-it was buried under 2 boxes of my photo albums. For the heck of it, I started looking through them, and decided to scan a few. It's the first time I've ever had a scanner, so I'm pretty psyched about it. I have a feeling I'm going to be scanning a whole lot more. :)

My Mom & I at my Nana & Papa's house. I'm not sure what that hat was about.

Me, age 3. I actually remember that day. I ate paste and didn't like it.


High school graduation. Oh to be skinny again.

My friend that I told you about-the one who made fun of my tights. I actually have lots of photos of him at my house, which is funny because it's the only time we hung out, outside of school.

One of my all time favorite photos-My Papa, me and my newborn sister, Chrissy.

Toosdae ?'s

Here are today's questions-for those of you who came by earlier and are coming back again, thanks!  Have a fabulous Toosdae everyone!

1.  What was the worst interview you've ever had?

2.  Do you kiss your friends when you greet them hello?  If so, where do you kiss them and how many times?  (If not, how do you greet them?)

3.  If you could have anything you wanted to eat right this very moment, what would you choose?

1.  When I lived in Florida I was trying to leave Disney (they couldn't work with my school schedule) I interviewed at a well known tourist spot in Orlando.  The job was administrative assistant.  Because Disney was my first full time job, I didn't have any experience, really, so I had no idea how to answer the questions.  The guy was a jerk too, which made it even worse.  Maybe I should have worn a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes for luck.

2.  Now that I think of it, I only kiss one set of friends on the cheek when I greet them.  The others just get hugs.  This question came about because I watched Ina Garten kiss one of her male friends on the lips when he was leaving, and I thought it was odd.

3.  I would LOVE a nice, salty, garlicky medium rare steak with crispy fries and a glass of red wine-Pinot Noir.  YUM.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tight(s)

There was a boy in high school who was a friend but not a friend. Do you know what I mean? We weren't in the same "crowd" as each other (looking back, I don't think either of us really even had a crowd) but we shared a few classes and our last names both started with a "D" so we ended up sitting next to each other a lot of times.

I don't remember any specific conversations or heart to hearts. What I do remember is that he teased me a lot and that we made each other laugh. I think that was something we both needed. He came to my house a few times for parties and bon fires, and to swim in our pool but it was always with other people-he wouldn't have come over alone.

I had a pair of tights that I loved. The were maroon and had striped running up and down my leg, so they were vertical. It was the early 90's people, they rocked. I had a specific outfit I wore them with and when I wore them, I felt really cool and pretty.

He hated them, and teased me every time I wore them.

I never was hurt by his teasing because I knew that he wasn't being mean-he was just teasing a friend about a pair of tights that she loved even though they were hideous.

At graduation, we sat next to each other (again with the D's) and right before we were about to walk on stage, he turned to me and hugged me very tightly telling me he'd miss me very much. I knew we wouldn't keep in touch-we weren't those kind of friends. I would miss him too.

Today, he friended me on facebook! Because I am unemployed and therefore near the computer a whole lot more, I was able to write back to him while he was still at the computer. A few emails in, I told him that I remember him teasing me about the tights to which he promptly wrote back, "I remember them too. They were hideous!" He did go on to say that he admired me for wearing them because they were so ugly. (They weren't that bad.) After a few more emails, he wrote this, a "tights" haiku:

Oh, how terrible
evil, hideous...stripes on
tights of eye-gouging

He still makes me smile. Happily, he also lives in Boston and 2 cool things happened: 1. He is looking into his company to see if they are hiring and 2. We are going to meet for lunch sometime next week! So super exciting! I'm just a tad self conscious because I've gained so much weight since then. But, I am who I am.

And because I know at least 3 of you are thinking it and will probably ask me, he is married. :) How exciting is it to reconnect with a friend-who I actually liked?!?!

Manic Monday: Cell

In college I started out as a social work major, then switched to elementary education, then to sociology, criminal justice, back to elementary education and finally ended with criminal justice as my major and sociology and education as my minors.

Yeah, I was conflicted. This was the first time that I vocalized my desire to go to culinary school-and this is when my father (thankfully) said those famous words, "You have to go to 'real' college first." Looking back, I should have pushed more-I see how I flip flopped my way through college not knowing truly what I was going to do. I knew I did not want to be a teacher-that was always everyone elses dream for me. I am great with kids and they always seem to love me-but when I did my student teaching (yeah, I got that far) I knew I would end up hating it. I also knew that I did not want to be a cop or a prison guard but thought that perhaps I could put all three together and work with troubled teens via community outreach programs.

I've mentioned to you that I am enthralled with deviance. It scares the bejesus out of me-but I'm enthralled with it. I am mesmerized by organized crime, gangs and their structures and overall, how the criminal mind works. Those college classes were some of the best I have taken (with of course, the exception of culinary school).

I remember in one of my classes as a senior at UCF was pretty hard core. I honestly do not remember much about it, other than the location (it was way off campus in a very touristy area of Orlando), a story the professor told us about how they use convicted criminals in call centers and don't let them have pens or pencils so they can't write down credit card numbers but how the criminals remember the numbers easily and give them to their family on the outside and finally, that for extra credit, we could visit a maximum security prison with him.

When he pitched this to our class-which was mostly boys-everyone was excited. Getting to walk through a real life facility like the ones we had been studying all of these years would be an incredible opportunity, and getting extra credit on top of that was just the icing on the cake. And then he started talking about the rules.

No T-shirts with writing
No jewelry of any kind
No V Neck shirts-especially the women
No Skirts or dresses
No Bags (even though they'd take them before we got in)
No Baggy Clothes
No Open Toed Shoes or Sandals (that was huge, being that it was summer in Orlando)
No Perfume or Cologne

The list went on. Even though the inmates would be in their cells during our visit, there was no need to get them riled up for any reason. Things happen and who knew if the day we were visiting was the day those "things" went down.

After he handed out the consent form and the rules, he spoke to just us girls. He told us that he knew he couldn't tell us this legally, but that we should consider not going. He said that unless we were extremely thick skinned that we might find the conditions to be too extreme and too offensive and that if we chose not to go, he would award us the extra credit anyway.

While I was slightly outraged that he told us this-and told us in front of the entire class-I was also slightly relieved. I am enthralled with deviance, but am also scared shitless of it. In fact, while he was reading the rules, my heart was beating extremely fast and I started to perspire on the back of my neck. My palms were even sweaty.

I wanted to go but I didn't. I wasn't sure I was willing to risk getting stabbed (in the extreme case) or verbally harassed (in the probably case). Especially if I knew that I did not want to work in the jail system. On the other hand...when would I ever get this chance to have a guided tour of a maximum security prison? Probably (hopefully) never.

I decided not to go. The actual first reason was the it wasn't during class time but during the day. Because I worked full time while going to school full time, I didn't have the option to get out of work to go. Honestly, if I truly wanted to go, I would have found a way, but having the excuse made me feel a bit better, and knowing that I would get extra credit anyway made it stick.

None of the other girls went either.

When we were all together again after the tour, the boys told us how amazing it was and also how sad and scary it was. They told us the they were glad we did not go because there were some women at the prison while they were there, and the inmates were apparently calling crude things out to them from their cells. They didn't think we would have handled it well.

I can not even imagine what my life would have been like if I had gone into the criminal justice field. I would have been very unhappy, of that I am sure. But if my father had let me go to culinary school back in 1994 when I asked, I would not have had this cool story to tell you on this Manic Monday. :)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What's Cookin? Chicken Makhani (Indian)


Though I'm having trouble finding an exact origin of Chicken Makhani on the internet (and I'm too full and lazy to search through the books that will confirm it for me) one thing is for sure-this "butter chicken" as it's sometime called is fantastic.

I don't often use my crock pot to cook with but lately I've found myself wishing I had something in the fridge that I could just pop into the microwave for dinner. My first though was some sort of lemon chicken in the crock-but then I found this, and I knew I had to try it.

The recipe as it is, is not very spicy at all. This can, of course, be modified to your liking.

Ingredients:
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 T butter
15 cardamom pods
2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 can coconut milk (I used light)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
2 T lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt (to add at the end, I used fat free)

The Directions.

Use a 5 quart or larger crockpot. Put the cardamom pods in a little cheese cloth bundle.

Put chicken in crockpot, and add onion, garlic, and all of the dry spices.

Plop in the butter and tomato paste. Add lemon juice and coconut milk.

Stir to combine.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4. The chicken should shred easily with 2 forks when fully cooked.

Stir in plain yogurt 15 minutes before serving.

Discard cardamom pods. Salt to taste, serve with white or brown basmati rice.

Alarming



There was a time when I did not want to walk into my own house by myself. It was right after Jamie broke in, the day he was ordered to leave and never come back. He was supposed to go to the house with a police escort, but of course, he did not. Instead, he kicked in the door, stole all of my jewelry, some of my clothes, collectibles and household items. Basically, anything he thought he could sell for drugs, he took.

Because he was literally crazy, I worried about him trying to get back into the house while I was in there. He was in a lot of trouble, and it was totally plausible that he would try to get me back. Several evenings I sat in my driveway in the dark sobbing with fear because I did not want to walk into my dark house alone. I was worried he would jump out and beat me up or worse, that he would finally go totally crazy and kill me. Restraining orders are only a piece of paper-they do not make you feel safe at all.

The police in my town were so very kind to me. They told me to call them at any time and they would send an officer over to walk me in and to check the yard to be sure I was OK. They did this for at least 2 weeks and I am forever grateful for their kindness.

Once inside, I jumped at every little noise and worried about what was outside in the dark. It was time for me to get a home security system. I called around and chose my company of choice and waited for them to come to install it. It was a simple process, actually-it only took a few hours and once it was set up, they showed me exactly what to do to arm it, disarm it, and to set it off if I needed the police. It gave me great peace of mind, knowing that the police would be notified if I found myself in a situation.

The best thing about having a security system was knowing that no one was inside the house when I got home. I had motion detectors as well as window and door sensors and my code was so obscure that even I had trouble remembering it at first. It was a fantastic and empowering feeling not having to call the police in order to walk into my own home.

I've since sold that house, and moved on and thankfully feel somewhat safe where I reside. I am not certain that I would have stayed in my home for as long as I did if I did not have that alarm installed though, and I am glad I made that decision. My house was expensive for me, but I loved it nonetheless.