Oh, drama and fork and various things

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Ugh.  I cannot believe that this was January already.  Work has been so intense with a forkin’ fork project, the kids have been sick on and off, I’ve had to take sick days for them, and then vacation days for when school’s been closed due to extreme cold.  And January is just, generally, a financial sump pump of a month,  bleehhh.  And by the time I get home, I want to do nothing.  Nothing.

I find that I’m just becoming more and more annoyed about stupid things.  Which means, once again, I’m the one that needs the attitude adjustment.

Today, we had a consultant come in who used to work for our company.  He was well respected and had been at my company for years, but left last year because of my project.   He even said, “No one would listen to me and nothing changed, and after awhile there is no point in talking about it anymore.  So I left–and hoped it would get my point across.”  Left the clustering fork project.  This project that I’m working on has plenty wrong, but I think I’m going about it the wrong way.  I really need to focus on the things we did right and try to leverage that–because it’s going to be a long haul, and it’s not just my job to get people coordinated in improving it, it’s also my job to remain positive while dealing with the realities of the thing.

Which means I need to get serious about restoring balance.  I have sadly been slacking off on the consistency of my workouts and eating too much crap food, and it is not good for my brain.  And I am going to need all of my brain cells for this.  And I need to get out and have some low-key fun, this obsessing at home all the time about work is not good for me.

I did get out earlier in the week with a couple of friends.  We went out to girlfriend #1’s place and played pool and talked about various things, amongst them dreams.  Dreams are funny, it took me a long time to figure out that some people (typically the male kind of people) will immediately think you’re talking about sex if you’re talking about dreams.  And yet, there is a distinct lack of naked people in my dreams, so I forget some people might consider it inappropriate to talk about them.  I dream about everything.  Spaceships and portal wardrobes and zombies and burnt out giant suns and tidal waves.  So yeah, there’s people, but usually it’s a lot of landscapes.

While we were playing pool (I am really awful–like really, the worst ever–but I enjoy it) girlfriend #2 mentioned how years ago a coworker had come up to tell her how he had a dream about her–yes, that kind of dream–while, in the dream,  another coworker watched impassively.  It was a minor comment, but apparently my subconscious listened–that night, I had an erotic dream about a coworker while my boss watched.  Gah!  And then I woke up. GAH!

But the hilarious thing about the dream is that it was all in the feeling, not in the actual/fictional events.  In the movie “When Harry met Sally,” Sally is telling Harry how her erotic dream for years has been that a faceless man rips off all her clothes and then she wakes up.  This was one of those dreams.   In my dream, I was standing at a large window in a University building, overlooking a sunny courtyard.  The person in question came up behind me and put his arms around me and buried his face in the back of my hair.  In the dream, it was a moment of wanting, of desire, of consummate satisfaction in that–aha!–he does like me.  Spoiled immediately by an authority figure.  And it makes me laugh that it is probably very typical of a woman.    But yes, I think I need to get out more.

 

Rosewater Custard

Rosewater Custard, Take I

This uses a creme brulee base, so it’s incredibly rich.  I couldn’t get it to set, even while pushing dangerously close to curdling stage.  It’s more like a creme anglaise, and probably would make a fantastic ice-cream, I plan to try it out on my parents.  My dad really liked the saffron ice-cream I made one year.  🙂

3 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. rosewater extract

–Heat the cream until tiny bubbles form around the edge of the pan.
–Meanwhile, in a 2-quart saucepan, blend yolks with sugar.  Slowly, while stirring, stir in cream (s l o w l y or you’ll curdle it!)
–Over medium-low heat, cook while stirring constantly, until it just coats the back of a metal spoon, about 15 minutes.  (Or if you’re like me, just keep cooking until you can “feel” the change, laughing in the face of. . . um, not really danger, just disappointment if you mess it up)
–Pour mixture into a casserole dish, refrigerate until well chilled, about 6 hours.  It will be soft and gloopy, but oh so delicious.

This is Take I because I think I’m going to have to treat it more like a creme caramel with the whole cooking in the water bath in the oven thing.

Orange Blossom Gelatin

Yes, it’s powdered horse hooves/cow bones, but it’s still fun to play with.

1 packet gelatin
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. orange blossom extract

–Heat up the water and sugar until it comes to a slow boil.  This is a basic simple syrup.
–Sprinkle in the powdered gelatin and stir, baby, stir.  Stir until it’s all dissolved.
–Remove from heat and add the orange blossom extract.  I tried letting in cool and when it was room temperature, poured it slowly over the chilled custard.  Yeah, that didn’t work so well, but it still tasted good.

 

Home, again

School is closed, again, so here we are.  The girls are very happy of course.  I would be happier, except I still have a ton to do, regardless, and I would be more effective at work.  Stupid winter.

Because we’ve been so cooped up I have been trying to remake this fabulous dessert from years ago.  There used to be a restaurant in Milwaukee called “Le Bon Appetit.”  It was Lebanese, so don’t ask me about the name.  I went there with my chemistry professor and my roommate, I can’t remember the occasion.  I had some lamb kebab couscous thing, but at the end they had a dessert I had never tried.  It was a rosewater custard with an orange blossom topping that was somewhat syrupy and somewhat gelatinous.  It was incredibly intense, you would breathe it in before you would actually taste it, and afterwards you’d smell like flowers.  Amazing.

However, the restaurant went out of business I never saw such a dessert again.  In the past, I’ve tried a couple of times to recreate it, but I could never get the intensity right, or the texture.  I’m still working on it, but in my last version I made my own orange blossom gelatin, and it was pretty fun.  I think I prefer it as a syrup, but for a party it would be kind of cool to make different, unusual flavors like rosewater, lavender, or orange blossom.  Or even violet if we get a good crop this year.  And then I could put them into our little “alien skulls” jello mold, because I am, yes, a dork.  Stay tuned for recipes in the next exciting post!

You don’t have to grow up

One thing my eldest daughter is worried about is growing up.  It’s not surprising, adults often don’t look like the’re having fun.  There are jobs and responsibilities and no summer vacation. It looks horrible from the perspective of a 10 year old.  I felt exactly the same way.  But the funny thing is, on the cusp of 40, I have never felt happier.  I really like my life.  Yeah, I got divorced.  Yeah, I’m poorer now.  Yeah, I have no summer vacation.  And play looks a lot different from an adult perspective than it does a kid’s.

I drove around and did some errands today, and it was fun to drive around in my car and listen to pop music and bask in the sun (in my car).  Yay!  I had my brother and his girlfriend over for dinner and it was fun to pour a glass of wine and cook and chat in the kitchen and eat something yummy afterwards.  Yay!  Teslacon 5 in in the fall, Distill America is this February, and Flashdance the Musical is in a few weeks–super fun!

Rowan is not impressed by this at all, but still a bit upset when I leave her out.  (I may have to bring her to Teslacon this year).  But that’s the thing I love about my generation, speaking broadly.  We didn’t grow up.  Yeah, work may be challenging–just the way school is sometimes challenging.  And yes, sometimes there are politics at work–just the same way there are cliques and preteen bees at middle school.  But this is the way life is–why get upset at the nature of things?  The best things are still, and always, good friends, good conversation, meaningful work, and yes, play.  And adults have the BEST options.  We can dress up as superheros and go to whiskey tastings, make a new recipe or a new painting/costume/3D printed thing, and yes, on top of it all, have gleeful sex. And if it’s really all too annoying, get in a car and drive the hell away.

My life may not be the bestest, awesomest life ever, but it’s mine, and it’s truthful, and authentic, and damn fun.  No way would I want to be a kid.

 

Age and Beauty

I recently watched the movie “The Kids are All Right” and really enjoyed it.  I must be getting mature or something, because I really like the movies that are about messiness and less than perfect people.  Not movies where you go, “wow, those people are so effed up,” but the ones about mistakes and wrinkles and slow life.  And wow, Annette Bening and Julianne Moore.  I love seeing the close ups, with the lines and the freckles and the people who are not in their early 20s.  I like seeing the light and individual hairs.  I like seeing the tendons in hands and scleras that are not perfectly white.  I love seeing the things that make us unique, seeing the beauty in the imperfections.

(As a side note, I have probably loved hands from the time of my first boyfriend.  He had really expressive hands and I especially love men’s hands, and like to surreptitiously watch them move in conversation.  The sclera thing came from having young kids–I mean, my goodness, they’re so white, whiter than teeth.  There’s a purity to the whiteness of them in youth).

I had a great compliment today, my ex called me to ask about divorce details for a friend of his who is also getting divorced.  He wanted to know how I had gone about the process from my end, as the initiator.  It was a strange and yet touching conversation.  I had to ask, “You know I tried to be fair to you, right?”

“Absolutely,” he said.  “And I respect you for that.”  Because the worst part was knowing it wasn’t working, and yet hurting someone who had been so much a part of my life.  And he’s moved on now, I expect that he will eventually remarry before I do.  I think, frankly, we would both be more comfortable if he’s the one to remarry first, whenever and to whomever that will be.

 

 

Nope, only Positivity here

I was listening to the radio and a woman was calling in about her Facebook rules.  “Only positive stuff,” she said, “and no profanity.”  I do try to keep to the no profanity and generally I keep to the positive stuff.  But sometimes it seems so artificial.  Yeah, none of us have problems, not real ones.  No one wakes up in the middle of the night and goes, “Oh god, I’m an adult, I’m supposed to have figured this out.”  No one feels scared during the middle of the day with a panic attack, feeling like Oh god oh god I can’t do this, I can’t.  Being an adult means not letting the feelings intimidate you, at least outwardly.  And being an adult means being proud of who you are, what you do.  If other, influential people was something else from you, then it’s time to put yourself in different circles.

I was reading a post on Cracked: 6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person.  At the end, the author says that you should “focus on giving yourself a skill that would make you ever so slightly more interesting and valuable to other people.”  I agreed with the gist of the article, it is harsh but true – we rely on other people.  For our friendships, for our work, for our happiness.  I’ve been pretty good at being interesting enough to attract friends, evidenced by the fact that I have some really great people in my life.  The jury is still out on how valuable I am though at work.  🙂

But part of my new position means dealing with more uncomfortableness, more uncertainty, and taking responsibility for past actions and decisions of other people at my company.  And sometimes, man, it sucks.  But what are you going do?  There’s no point in being too honest at work – you get pegged as being too negative, and once that happens, it’s hard to get people to listen to you.  Plus, if I’m feeling excessively stressed I ask myself, “Could I die in this scenario?”  No.  I’m a white collar worker, there’s really no possibility of death in a bad decision.  Will this matter in a hundred years?  No, because I will be dead.  This must be the ex-goth in me, that finds even asking these questions hilarious.  All a matter of perspective!

But it is sad that we, as a culture, find it hard to maintain balance between the negative and the positive.  As though life is supposed to be all good, and if it’s not, it’s probably your own fault.  Or on the other perspective, life is always hard and depressing and only a lucky few are truly happy.  I tend to believe we are here for the challenges.  We are here because part of us knows this IS all temporary, that we don’t have to be so anxious, so fearful.  That in the end, we are only are own avatars.  Yes, this stuff is important, but only because of what it teaches us.  After all, you can’t take anything physical with you after death.  But the maturity of adulthood -being honest but positive about the struggles, feeling but not being drowned by emotion–these are the things I am still working on.

The Nature of Love

After a crazy week of fighting fires at work I went up north this weekend to witness a close friend’s wedding.  She was nervous, the groom was happy and proud, and it was nice.  Weddings are, and should be, about the bride and groom – so I tried to be helpful and then afterwards, just got the hell out of the way.  It was pretty much a family only affair – I videotaped the ceremony (I have past experience as a wedding videographer) and then hung out with some of her cousins and aunts.  This is her second marriage – like me, she had been married a long time and then got divorced.   She has a small son, and her new husband is the only father he’s ever known.  After the ceremony, I got a ride back and slept in her empty house.

There is something about an empty, not-yours, sort of house. There is something to witnessing love in a new stage in life, when the partners are no longer innocents in love, when they are good people that were hurt and moved on, because that is the way life goes.  It was sweet, and for me–because I am no longer in my twenties–more poignant and more special than watching twenty-something people commit to something they really know nothing about.  Not that it can’t work out – some people know their own hearts at a young age, some people find partners that grow on the same path as they do.  But I am selfish, and more interested in seeing how people cope with betrayal, with disappointment, with age and understanding that not all dreams will come to be.  What do you choose when you cannot have everything?

Not that I have been unhappy–exactly the opposite.  It was was fun to drive a couple of hours by myself, alone on the road.  I listened to the radio, sang along, had the best time – being alone.  I have no boyfriend, I have no love–but that is a poor way to put it, because all I mean is that I am not in love with anyone.  And it’s fine.  Because obsession and infatuation is not something I’m particularly interested in, and I am connected to many people I truly care about.

I don’t actually worry about finding love, and I really don’t worry about being alone.  I love meeting new people and listening to their stories.  I love learning from people–anyone who can teach me something is someone I want to know (that’s a lot of people, btw.  :)).  But when it comes to emotion, to the heart of the matter, I want to see what happens when the infatuation cools off.  I find it funny that all the songs on popular radio are about romantic love, as though that is the only thing that matters, that you can’t be happy without it.  And sure, I would love to feel that again.  But what I am looking for, eventually, is someone I can live with, be with, as I am–with all my flaws.  I want a partner in crime and adventure – well, if I’m honest, I want a partner that can build something with me.  Because at the end of the day, whether you’re with someone or not, it is yourself you have to look at in the mirror, and your baseline happiness will probably be whatever it was before you partnered up.

I love my friends deeply, and often it is because they see the potential in me that I cannot see.  And likewise, the people I care about–the ones I am closest to, the number of which I can count and contain on my two hands–are the ones I see the light and the greatness in.  For me, that is also what I am interested in as a partner–someone I can build something of worth with, and someone I can have fun going through life with.  But in a way, it’s not a goal in and of itself.  It will happen when it’s time, and right now I have so many good things and interesting things that I don’t need to worry about being bored.  It feels a little illegal to be so happy and unattached.

Because I love life.  I love being alive.  I love the silence when I am alone, I love the small, quiet breathing of my children when they are here and asleep.  I love their questions when they are awake and I love a pot of tea with a good book.  I love the challenge of my work and reading technology magazines of what could be.  I love falling asleep and dreaming, because I don’t know what will happen in my dreams, and I love taking an unfamiliar road to see where it leads.  Because in all of this, I will be okay.  And if something bad happens, I will figure it out or deal with it.  And if something magical and glowing happens, I will revel in it.

Because I have love.  Perhaps not the red kind at this junction, but I have the purple kind, and the green kind, and the pink and white and the yellow–and really, I have a pretty good collection of love.  That last card will come, but I’m not worried when.