Untitled Poem, Since it is #nationalpoetryday

Everyday we have a choice

To approach things with grace, understanding…

the expectation of hope…

I often invite my students to either rest their palms up

A sign of receptivity… of openness

(To what? That is up to them.)

or with their palms facing down,

a sign of letting go.

I ask them to focus

to breathe…

and then we move onto what is next.

 

I’m beginning to wonder

if perhaps,

it is time for me to look at our relationship

and let my palms rest downward

letting go of expectations

and settling into where we are now

(which is where exactly?

I can’t quite find it on a map,

but it is starting to feel like a place I know called contempt)

 

And how did we get here

This awkward unknown that is hovering

–palpable in the air like pollen or humidity–

Generic answers where there used to be genuine interest

Self-absorption where there used to be curiosity

 

I look over at you

standing next to me, and I realize

I’d rather be here with anyone else.

Resting my palms down

and wondering

​​what is next?

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I’m not quite sure what to do, but I’m choosing to be a citizen of the world. 

The World is on fire. Literally. The air is full of smoke and several devastating fires are ripping through some of the most beautiful parts of Oregon. Elsewhere in the Nation, hurricanes and tropical storms are flooding homes and destroying lives. And these devastating events just seem to be rising to the occasion of setting the ambiance for the rest of the Country in its current state.

I try not to get too political on here. (ok, yes, I haven’t posted anything on here in a RATHER long time) but lately my heart is feeling so heavy. I’ve always embraced the idea that being an American comes with a certain responsibility: First and foremost we must be Citizens of the World. Because we can be. We have that freedom. And because we can, we MUST. We need to ask BIG questions, we have to be curious, embrace new ideas, collaborate, explore, look at the big picture, create, be open to a new way of doing things, be respectful and learn as much as we can. We need to show up and be engaged in life every single day, and work hard and learn and grow. Because we can. It is our responsibility. 

And yet, I’m confronted daily by people, populations and “leaders” who seem to think that being American only comes with a sense of entitlement and with very little of that responsibility. Rather than embracing the idea of community and collaboration it is feeling more and more like putting a select group of our population first is way more important than anything else. Since when has an “America first” mentality gotten us anywhere? I can tell you this much, as things stand right now, I’m not exactly proud to be an American. Don’t get me wrong… I understand that I am privileged, and there are a lot of things I take for granted, but I also know that I’m extremely disappointed by a lot of the decisions being made by the leadership of our Country. 

It’s not the “Dreamers” and foreign militaries and extremists that worry me. It’s the idiot kids lighting off fireworks in the forest, and born and bred Americans driving trucks into crowds of peaceful protesters that keep me up at night. How can our political narrative be so focused on building a wall and keeping the “other” out, when we are doing nothing to address the issues of deep rooted hatred and ignorance that are just a part of our “good old American” ways?    
I know there is good in the world, that there are intelligent, gracious, determined leaders out there in our communities and on a larger scale. I know that there are many people out there who are just as confused and disheartened as I am. And I know that a lot of us are feeling hopeless. I don’t have solution… but I do know that I have hope. (just a tiny glimmer) Because I know in the following weeks and months I’m going to make a commitment to my community. I’m going to do what I can to support others with small gestures and acts of kindness. I’m going to write letters, and talk about what is frustrating, because I think it is so important to NAME the thing that is weighing you down and to vocalize it. I’m not going to dwell on it but I will talk about it and facilitate conversations about it, and be a sounding board for others. I’m going to find little joys in every day moments. I’m going to keep an open mind. I’m going to listen, and encourage and support people in the ways that I can. I’m going to focus more on sustainability, on supporting local economies, on being an advocate for people who need it. And I know that when I wake up in the morning I am by default an American, but each and every day, I’m going to choose to live up to my responsibility of being a Citizen of the World.  

Adventures in Speed Dating

So, I went speed dating a couple of weeks ago. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t have any huge expectations from it; I was going more as a social experiment. I didn’t think I was going to find “The ONE” (though the testimonials all over the website tried to tell me otherwise) I wasn’t even really going to find a date, I was going for the overall experience. I’m somewhere on the introverted spectrum, and though I jokingly like to blame it on my years of home-schooling and conservative up-bringing, the truth is that I’m just wired that way. I do ok for myself in social situations, I’ve lived through years of networking events, and I’ve been able to put on my extroverted mask and make small talk with the best of them… But I’m always looking for ways to push myself out of my social comfort zone. Speed dating seemed like a somewhat entertaining way to put myself out there.   I had a number of quirky and off the wall questions formulating in the back of my brain, and felt confident that in five minutes time I could leave a fun and authentic first impression.

The "Program"

The “Program”

Though I understand that dating is mostly a solo undertaking, I would highly recommend using the buddy system when it comes to speed dating. You need a buffer to have a drink with before everything gets started, and someone to debrief with after the night is over. You also need someone to exchange meaningful glances with across the room when things have gone terribly awry… though come to think of it, my best friend and I never made eye contact, because I’m pretty sure we would have lost it. Also, we did not coordinate our outfits, but we both wore red Pea coats, so in retrospect it was pretty hilarious us walking into speed dating together in our matching uniforms.

You know that David after the Dentist video that went viral, and he is sitting in his car and the anesthesia hasn’t worn off yet and he asks “Is this real life?” That is exactly how I felt walking into the bar where speed dating was taking place. Firstly, it was at a 90’s bar… (yes, they exists) and we were handed our programs for the evening that look exactly like weekly church bulletins. We were ushered behind this ominous black curtain over to the Speed Dating section of bar, and are left to our own devices to mingle and get our bearings before the “event” started in ten minutes. Thankfully, it was happy hour, because after taking one look around the room it was pretty obvious that drinking was a necessary part of this activity.

Though I was trying to keep an open mind about what types of fella’s might be at a speed dating event for 23-37 year olds on a Saturday evening at a 90’s bar, I will say that upon surveying the men, it was EXACTLY what I expected.  I know I know, keep an open mind, don’t judge a book by its cover, don’t be a bitch… but really “IS THIS REAL LIFE?” was the thing that kept popping back into my head. It was a room full of IT types, Engineers etc. Thankfully I didn’t see any pocket protectors, but maybe I wasn’t looking close enough.  Oh well, I had my list of fun questions, I had my confidence, and I had a pretty decent $3 cocktail.

So the thing gets started and they make us do a little gather round in the corner of the bar, and our cruise director for the evening gives us some guidelines. Mostly, don’t come into these things expecting to find your soul mate, have fun, and men, don’t linger after the bell rings because you will just ruin it for everyone. Simple enough. We were each assigned a number, women stay seated at their designated spot while the men get up and rotate every 5 minutes. You have 30 seconds between each bell to jot down a few notes in your program, and circle yes or no, and you are onto the next person. Our event was FULL, but the people running the event apparently have this thing down to a science, and they realized that if we had to meet everyone our heads would literally explode or we would leave with a glazed over zombie look in our eyes, so they capped us at 18 dates. (Yeah, like our heads weren’t exploding after 18…) The bell rings, we head to our assigned seats, and the mayhem begins.

Well sort of. The mayhem begins for everyone else, and as the chit chat starts to flair up around me as everyone is delving into their awkward first encounter, I’m left at a table by myself. Um hello? I thought this event was full? Where is my person? Oh my god, my first date isn’t even going to show up… chit chat chit chat… WTF? Finally I see a guy lurking in the corner on his cell phone, and realize that my first “date” is going to spend the first 2 minutes of our 5 minute date chatting to someone else on the phone. Not that first impressions really matter when you only have 5 minutes, right? (Is this real life?) So finally he comes over, introduces himself as Zack, and gives me the weakest most flaccid handshake of all time. So now we are at minute 3 and we haven’t even said real words to each other yet, and I’m slightly annoyed and also weirded out. You can’t get off your phone and my dog gives a better hand shake than you… is this setting the tone for the rest of the evening? (keep an open mind, don’t judge a book by it’s cover, don’t be a bitch… but…) We exchanged the typical “What do you do? What did you study?” questions, we talked a little bit about traveling, but when he started to ramble on about how he just got back from Dubai, and how he pretty much hated it because when he went shopping he thought they would have some familiar chain stores, but they didn’t, and everything was pretty weird and pretty boring.

At this point in the evening, I realized that I was going to have to dig deep and try to find a semblance of a poker face, because this was only date one, I had only had half of a cocktail, and there were 17 more of these to go. Game on.

This is where things really started to get interesting, because at this point, now all the men were coming directly from table 6, (my best friend) to me, so I caught them in the awkward note taking moment. And though mostly I was scribbling my own notes like “worst handshake of all time, thinks Dubai is boring” I would occasionally get a 2 second preview of what each man thought of my friend… and while we certainly don’t really have the same taste in men I had several moments of like “well if you don’t like her, you are certainly not going to get along with me!”

Date number 2 was named Abdullah. He was 22 years old, from Saudi Arabia, was interested in banking, and thought that Portland was the greatest city ever. He also had a very weak handshake, and I quickly realized that I was going to have to start taking better notes, because “flaccid handshake” was clearly not going to be a stand out adjective for the men in this room. Le Sigh.

Next up was Sergio (the first of two Sergio’s on the program) Who came over to my table introduced himself as “Serg” and greeted me with yet another limp fish handshake. For reals, shaking hands shouldn’t be this uncomfortable… At this point I was actually starting to wonder if this was some sort of the speed dating secret hand shake and I just didn’t get the memo, but then I actually focus in on “Serg” and I realize that he is wearing a leather trench coat, has a very long pony tail. Ok… So I start to listen as he tells me that he is 23, LOVES living with his roommates, recently became a massage therapist, and enjoys making chainmaille jewelry on the side. He then asks me if I live alone or with roommates, or with my family, and I’m thinking that it is a terribly creepy question to ask at speed dating, so I casually mention my roommate “Toby” and then he starts in again about just how much he loves living with his roomates. Then, he asks me when my birthday is because he is “VERY into Astrology” In that moment all I could think was how thankful I was that I decided not to wear my Gemini necklace, and then I really had to focus on channeling that poker face… because IS THIS REAL LIFE?

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Real Life Notes: Keep in mind that I had 30 seconds to write these, and my hand writing is not normally this bad… 

The next few dates were not very memorable. All the men seemed kinda boring, pretty awkward, and no one really stood out. As the evening went on I begin to realize that these are not the type of men who are going to do well with quirky off the wall questions. I know this, because every last of the gentlemen that I met asked me some variation of the same three questions, 1) have you ever been speed dating before? 2) what do you do, 3) how long have you lived in the area…. As if any of these 3 things could tell you anything about my personality, as if any of these 3 things would leave a lasting impression. Though I’m sure some of the men probably jotted down “yoga teacher” in their notes, I was totally baffled by the fact that every guy on every date took the time to ask if I had ever been speed dating before. I mean I guess it is an icebreaker question, sort of… but honestly, you’ve got 5 minutes, and that is the one thing that you absolutely have to know about me? Clearly this was not going to be 2.5 hours of quick wit.

By this time, my drink is gone, I’ve received 8 flaccid handshakes in a row, and I amVERY ready for intermission. Date number 9 comes over, and emphatically circles NO for table #6. Well ok then, my bestie clearly left an impression… He sits down, and immediately he starts talking about how he started out as an English Professor but then he realized that he couldn’t make any money whatsoever being an English professor, so he went into the private sector to be a technical writer. Blah blah blah blah blah. He droned on and on and on about how he could never make any money teaching English and how much he hated it, and not once did he ask me what I did for a living or what I studied in school. (ahem, poetry major)  At this point, I know the poker face came off, I know my eyes glazed over, I know there was a little vein in my neck that started popping out a little bit. I’m sorry… but does anyone major in English because they are planning to graduate and make millions of dollars? Last time I checked, you majored in English because you were passionate about I, because you knew that writing was going to be a valuable skill no matter what career you ended up with, because you had an absolute love of literature. I mean sure, I guess if you went on to Law School after undergrad, or if you wrote some earth shattering book or had dreams of actually writing you might at some point think that you are going to be rich and famous… but if you are getting your PHD in English with the intent of becoming a professor, one can only hope that you aren’t doing so because you are planning on making a shit ton of money. And if you are… well… lets maybe do a reality check dude. I really wanted to smack him on the forehead, and ask why he majored in English in the first place if he was obsessed with making a quick buck,  and I considered telling him to stop being a condescending jack ass, but since we hadn’t talked about my degree in Poetry, I figured it might be a little overkill. Do not engage, its not worth it, this too shall pass. Our cruise director came around and reminded everyone that intermission was moments away, thank you Baby Jesus, because I had had more than my fill of Marshall the Technical Writer.

The bell rings, and I let out a huge sigh of relief, and start to plan my escape to the bar and to the restroom. Ten seconds go by and as I’m fishing for my wallet, Marshall rears his incredibly boring head, and says “well I guess I don’t have to leave!” and joyfully sits back down at my table. On the bright side, I must have been hiding my distain better than I thought, but on the not so bright side Marshall was back with no intention of leaving. I then quickly weighed my options, I couldn’t excused myself to the restroom, but also it was only half time, and if I was going to sit through 9 more dates, another cocktail wasn’t exactly optional. So I excused myself to the bar, but he decided to tag along… Somehow my 5 minute date with Marshall had extended into 12, and I was already emphatically circling NO in my mind, he attempted to order me a drink without even asking what I wanted, then told me there was no way I was going to get served at the bar ( “Oh trust me Marshall, I’m not leaving without a drink.”) and then he tried to slyly slip me his business card as he was fishing around for his wallet. He then blatantly asked me how old I was, and nearly spit out his drink when I told him I was 29. “Oh! That’s great, you look like you are 23!”   Ok, I imagine there will be a time in my not so distant future that I will be wishing people told me that I looked younger than am, or great for my age… But that time is not now. I don’t want to be mistaken for a 23 year old! I have nothing against 23 year olds… I used to be one… and I know some great ones… But also, 23 was a long time ago, a lifetime ago in terms of knowing what I wanted and who I am, in terms of priorities and careers… I have come a very long way since 23… and at this point in my life, I’d rather not be mistaken for a 23 year old… And the way in which he said it was not in the “oh you look great for your age” kind of way, but in the “oh you look like you just graduated from college and are really green an immature” kind of way. I mean sure, he was happy that I was older than I “looked” but the condescension in his tone… Ok Marshall, pretty sure it’s time for you to take your PHD and hop along.

Sitting back at table 7, I was a little disheartened to think that we were only half way through… and I never got to pee… and why do you want to know if I’ve been speed dating before? I don’t really remember the conversation with date #10… I do remember that he was wearing the largest, fuzziest sweater I’ve ever seen. And my only notes on him are “No. Sweater, Sweater, Sweater.”

Next up was the man from Nigeria. He had a very thick accent, and upon sitting down he repeatedly asked me how I got my “Tiths” so white. I was a little taken aback, because the first two times he said it, I could have sworn he was asking me something about my Tits, but once I figured out he was asking me about my teeth I still didn’t really know what to say. This did not seem like to moment to try to explain oil pulling, and why were we even talking about oral hygiene in the first place? He then told me that I had one and a half dimples, and then asked if I wanted to know which one was the full one and which one was the half… I don’t remember which is which.

In retrospect, maybe we were talking about something random like teeth because on his date with my friend, she tried to set him up for an informational interview with Abdullah, because apparently this gentleman was in banking, and she felt bad for Abdullah because he had no real experience and she thought the two of them should connect.   Yes, this IS real life.

Next up was a totally nice guy from Montana, and we mostly hit it off, but he tried to impress me by telling me he was a chef… and already I am skeptical… Ok, so you are a chef, and yet somehow you have time to go speed dating on a Saturday night? And granted, I might be just a little tiny bit jaded from my past experiences dating people in the culinary world, but he was very elusive about where he and though he didn’t disclose it on our date, he told my friend that he had a 4 year old. And kids don’t bother me, granted, I don’t want to birth one, but dating a guy with kids doesn’t freak me out… but I’ve already dated a chef with kids… And I’m looking for a different life experience. So, next.

There was the guy who said “Right on” after everything I said, the guy who came to speed dating all the time for “fun”, The psychologist with the dog, there was the man who was my only note was “gay?” And a man from India, who was even more overwhelmed than I was. I felt so bad for him as he came over to my table and sat down with this defeated look in his eye. He wouldn’t really make eye contact, and tried for a few minutes to form a question… but he just kept making statements about how overwhelming the whole experience was. One man made a comment that my ring looked like a shield… I was thinking “hopefully it protects me from this experience.”   Finally towards the end of the evening, I started to pull out my off the wall questions, just to change things up, just to make things interesting. And just as expected, none of them men really knew what to do with them… you wouldn’t think that “Yankees or Red Sox?” would be a panic inducing question, but you could see the fear “oh shit, she is asking me about sports… how do I answer this?” Clearly asking them what their walk-on song was, wasn’t really going to be an option, and none of them had ever even heard of Wes Anderson… One man mumbled the entire time, and I honestly have no idea what he said at all. I couldn’t tell if it was a tactic to get me to lean in, or if he was just not articulating.

I accidentally missed my last date… sort of. We were like 2.5 hours in, (and trying to do the math it shouldn’t have lasted that long! And yet, it was almost 10PM!) and I made an executive decision that going to the restroom was going to be more productive than one more five minute date. Mumbling man got up from the table, and I totally bolted. Do not look back, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to the restroom and try not to think about the last 2.5 hours.   When I came back, there was no one at my table, and I relished a moment of quiet before a man came wandering over and said “oh sorry, I decided to go use the bathroom.” Whatever, he saw that I wasn’t at my table and then made that decision. We chatted for a moment, but apparently the bell rang before both of us got back, because looking around us the staff was starting to pick up chairs and people were still sort of chatting but it was mostly breaking up. “Ok, nice to meet you!”

My friend was chatting with the woman sitting next to her at the bar, and we all looked at each other and just shook our heads.   “Well… That was a thing we just did.” IS THIS REAL LIFE?

I did end up having 1 match from the evening. And we went on one date… which is another blog post all together. My friend and I actually had the same “maybe” and we both debated for a few days if we should match him, or just cut our losses. We secretly thought it would be hilarious if we just went out on a triple date or if we had back to back dates at the same place… neither of which happened… Overall, I’m glad that I went, but I don’t think I’ll be going on any more speed dating adventures in the near future. I went I saw, I wrote… and afterwards all I could think about was this hand-written card that my grandmother sent me when I was a Freshman in college “Look out for all the jerks and weirdos out there.” Indeed, grandma. Indeed.

A little bit of vulnerable

Last week I had one of those lonely-hearted moments. You know the ones that totally sneak up on you in a kind of blind-sighting way and leave you feeling exposed and sad and a little bit ridiculous all at the same time?They don’t happen to me very often, and so when they do I tend to get a little overwhelmed… My entire adult life, I’ve been a fiercely independent, introverted soul, so when I occasionally have those vulnerable moments of lonely-heartedness it always takes me by surprise.

Let me just give you a little back-story.

I have never been one of those women whose soul mission in life is to settle down, get married and live happily ever after. The sticky sweet fairy tale ending has never really appealed to me (unless of course it’s the  Rodgers and Hammerstein version of Cinderella featuring Brandy… because that speaks to everyone.) Sure, I went through a phase somewhere in middle-teen-hood where I planned out my dream wedding (to Han Solo, duh.) But I’ve never really held onto any romantic notions of dating, marriage, relationships… Sure, I would like to be in one… I would maybe even like to be married someday, but I’ve never really understood the women who are clearly on that mission to find “the one.”   A few years ago I was taking a trip with some girlfriends, and I picked up a novel in the airport to read on the plane. One chapter in and my mind was totally blown, this book was on the best seller list, and one of the main characters was a high powered lawyer who quit her job so she could date full time. One of the other women was so terrified of being alone, that she agreed to marry a man she didn’t love and then was too chicken to cancel the wedding, so she decided they should get married in Iceland so no one she really cared about would see her marry this man she didn’t love. HOW IS THIS A REAL BOOK THAT REAL PEOPLE READ???? Ok, I did read the whole thing, because I was hoping that maybe eventually it would have some sort of ah-ha moment where the women realize that they are ridiculous, and then one of the married women sleeps with a male prostitute in South America, and I gave up all hope.  (I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about my outrage of this book before… ) But the whole book just left me feeling really dis-enchanted… And here is the truly terrifying thing… there are probably actually women out there who are like this!  Needless to say, my life is pretty much the antithesis of this. Call me crazy, but I’ve always lived with the belief that if you live your life authentically and passionately, everything else is just going to kind of fall into place. And so 99.9% of the time it doesn’t bother me that most of my college friends are married, that I am approaching 30 and chronically single… because I’m living a life that I love, and I fill it with things that I love.   When people read my tattoo that says “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” and ask “well?” I usually say things like (and almost always get blank stares or awkward laughter)  “write, have a bulldog, garden, teach yoga…thrive…”

Last week I was feeling overstimulated… I had family in town visiting, was working a few extra shifts, and was eating out a lot, trying to catch up with friends, prepping my house for a new roommate… the anxiety was building, and all I wanted all week was a night in with a home-cooked meal. I wanted to dance around my kitchen, sit on the patio and eat by candle-light, and absolutely revel in my aloneness. I didn’t want any distractions or interruptions, I didn’t want conversations or company, I just wanted my solitude…. that is until about 10 minutes into cooking dinner, and that is when it just came welling over me. And in that moment, all I wanted was for another person to be there… not just any person but THE person… I wanted us to awkwardly be in each other’s way as we made dinner… to talk about our day, I wanted to sit on the porch listening to bluegrass music and talk about what to plant in the garden next year, wanted to exchange meaningful glances while having a glass of wine as he did the dishes… I wanted countless little insignificant moments. I wanted to have someone to share my life with and build a future with.  BAM. How’s that for blind-sighted?  Introverted re-charge turned hyper-sensitive heart ache in 2.5 seconds.  And I hate it when these moments sneak up on me, and it goes back to the whole “well you have your life together, and you shouldn’t feel this way! You can have it all” mentality. I keep thinking that I shouldn’t feel this way, that I shouldn’t be lonely, that I shouldn’t be filled with longing for a person to build my life with…It seems to go against the whole “I’ve got my life together and I’m fabulous” anthem that so many powerful and confident women have… but you know what? Even though I hate having these moments of heart-ache and fear and vulnerability… I also welcome them to some extent, because it means that I’m not afraid to be open.

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Dinner for one (well you know, dinner for one with some left-overs)

Sometimes I worry that I’ve spent so much time cultivating this life that I love, that I forgot to leave room for my future. Because when you are a young, single, independent woman, everyone tells you that you can do anything, that you should cherish these moments, that you are strong and beautiful, and charismatic and that the world is your oyster, and that you don’t need a man or anyone else to be complete. They tell you this over and over and over, and you being to cling to it like a mantra, like a beacon of all that is good, until one day you realize that  you were so busy thinking about what kind of independent life you wanted, how all you needed to be happy in life is a Bulldog and to write,  that somewhere along the line you forgot to think about things like “I want to be somebody’s wife someday.” And maybe it just goes without saying that this is what “normal” people think about… that there is this underlying unspoken expectation that you grow up, get educated, fall in love, and start your life with someone. Maybe at some point I just figured this was a given, and that I didn’t actually need to plan for it… and yet I am such a huge believer in Intention, it kind of baffles my mind that I haven’t spent the last several years putting this intention out into the Universe. Because realizing that you want to build a life with someone meaningful is not the same as quitting your job to date full time. Realizing what you want your future to look like is not being a ridiculous romanced crazed single…  And maybe I’m just a late bloomer (well ok, there are no maybe’s about it…) because I’ve known those people who instinctively have known their whole lives that they want to be mothers, or wives, or whatever… and that has never been me… I mean I’m not opposed to the idea of either (though I don’t think I will personally grow a human, I reserve the right to change my mind) but I haven’t spent the last 29 years knowing that that is what I was destined for. I HAVE known for that long that I wanted a bulldog named Toby, that I wanted to have a love-affair with writing, and that I wanted to get dirt under my fingernails.  And quite honestly, I am still years away from being ready to be married (at least in the conventional sense), but every now and then I have that twinge of wanting to share the everyday with someone.

And of course everyone (the proverbial everyone) says that it will happen when you least expect it, when you aren’t looking for it, and yet the “proverbial they” still think I need to try online dating… and maybe I am dead wrong, but I just don’t think I’m going to find MY person on the interwebs… There is still the tiny part of my soul that wants the meet cute scenario, and a real life story rather than “Well we were a 86% match.” Sure, I’m all about being with someone who shares my passions and interests… but I’m also holding out for that moment in a coffee shop/ famer’s market/ winebar where he sees me reading Steinbeck/ buying peppers/ being flippantly sarcastic and thinks “I’ve got to get to know her”   Because isn’t that a nice and wonderful idea?  That someone out there saw you and thought “hmmm my interest is piqued. I think she is worth the effort of getting to know”   And… really, I don’t know why I cling to this particular dream, since  literally every single guy who has piqued my personal interest in the last 15 years and who I’ve actually had enough courage and gumption to ask out has either said nothing at all (hello, this is a check yes or no situation, no response??? that is a thing? Oh it’s a thing…) , or said yes, but then canceled, or changed his mind, or never followed through… And most of the time I can cling to my self assured independent and confident self… but there are the occasional raw  moments when I’m taken aback by the loneliness and can’t help but think “but at what point  did I become un-datable?” I mean, I don’t really think that I’m un-datable… I can make pickles, and I like baseball, and I’m a yoga teacher… some guy, somewhere is going to be into that!  And I also have to quickly remind myself that  dating is actually THE worst, so there is that… but it’s a little hard to just fall into a relationship without the dating part. Which is really really unfortunate. Because I’m great at the relationship part. I love the comfortable everyday moments, the trips to the grocery store, the reminiscing, the meaningful conversations, time spend walking the dog and holding hands, and curled up next to each other reading, and staying up too late talking…the ins and outs of  living everyday life. That is what I’m good at. But what I’m not  so great at is everything preceding that. I’m absolutely terrible at the small talk and the weird obligatory getting to know you questions of first date land…  “what kind of music do you like?” and “how many siblings do you have?” and then I get awkward and nervous, and the once cool, confident and interesting person retreats behind this muttering, bumbling version of myself…
It get's awkward real fast

It get’s awkward real fast

Take Today, for example. I asked a guy out for drinks a few weeks ago, with no expectations, just getting to know each other… New Friendship? More than that? Who knows! I just had this inkling of “I think you are interesting and want to explore that.” So I asked him out for drinks.   He actually said yes, and asked what my schedule was like, and I told him… and then nothing. Which was fine, because he is busy, and I am busy… So I waited a few days, and followed up, and when I bumped into him last week he apologized for not getting back to me and said he would give me a call soon. Perfect, I’m not worried about it! So flash forward to today, when I ran into him I had every opportunity to be confident, to be direct to say “hey! I know you are really busy, BUT let’s make this happen. Are you free  to grab a drink tonight?”  and I had this whole cool and casual attitude happening, and what did I do? I saw him talking with another girl, so I  barely made eye contact, and ordered the usual, and ran away as fast as humanly possible… there was no mention of our future plans, of getting together, or really even that we knew each other… my mind ran wild with the assumptions about who she was, and what it meant, and I totally choked. Insert social awkwardness and anxiety…What is wrong with me? What happened to the confidence and the “you have nothing to lose” attitude?  (oh yeah… awkwardolive… comes with the territory.)  Because Dating makes me NERVOUS, it accentuates my awkwardness in a very specific and not always endearing way (because I will forever cling to the idea that a little bit of awkwardness is somewhat charming). And then I just get mad at myself… because even in this situation, I’m making assumptions. Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, Maybe he is interested and just busy… or maybe he isn’t but just want to be friends so obviously he isn’t in a hurry to call me back… maybe he isn’t actually available…Or maybe he is just weirded out because now I’m being weird. OR maybe nothing, and I’m overthinking everything.  (or maybe he will read this post and think I’m nuts… what can you do?) It’s unclear if there is any reciprocal interest other than friendship, and that could very well be OK with me, because I’m always wanting to expand my horizons, to meet new people, to make new friends.  But it seems like I am incapable of even getting to the point of figuring that out without totally tripping all over myself.

And every single person I know says “well you just need more practice.” and then I look at them somewhat blankly, and somewhat with a “really? is that what I need?” look, because here is the thing, YOU CANNOT PRACTICE DATING IF NO ONE WILL AGREE TO GO OUT WITH YOU. I’m just saying, that seems like, pretty obvious right?  This is my plight… but I’m working on it.

And in-spite of my track record, my ever awkward encounters, and my complete lack of successful dating stories… I’m still optimistic enough to think that any minute now, my “meet cute” is going to happen.  And maybe it’s naive, and I’m sure as a result I’m going to have many more moments where the loneliness sneaks up on me, where the heartache creeps in, moment’s where I’m going to long to share the everyday encounters with a non-existent partner… but I’ll also have those wildly authentic moments where I”m not worried about impressing anyone, or rejection or really anything besides living a life that I love… and hopefully one day I’ll be able to share it with someone else. In the meantime I’m going to have many more dinner’s for one and glasses of wine shared with a bulldog, and I’m going to be open.

The Awkward Olive Does Lunch: The Game Changer Salad

garden lettuce

garden lettuce

 

My garden is an explosion of lettuce right now.  So so so so so much lettuce.  Speckled kind, and red kind, and green kind, and fluffier red kind (I’m really good with the technical names in case you couldn’t tell.)   I eat quite a bit of salad, but I can honestly say that I had this particular salad in mind when I planted my lettuce this spring. And I eat it at least 6 times a week, sometimes even twice a day.  I’m adding  it to my Lunch adventures, because I do take it to work with me quite a bit,  but since it is so simple, and mostly comprised of lettuce, I would recommend it as an accompaniment to a main dish rather than as a meal itself.  (or you could do like I did today and make a giant salad and then eat several handfuls of Bugles… you win some you lose some…)  I like to call this the Game Changer salad… because it will literally change how you do meals in the summer.

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The great thing about this salad is that it is only 4 ingredients, and you probably have all of them already.  It will literally take you 5 minutes from garden to table, and its mind-numbingly simple and delicious.  When I tell you what the ingredients are, you might think I’m a little bit nutty, but trust me when I say that this is the absolute perfect salad to enjoy on a summer evening.

Note: This will not work/ not be delicious with grocery store bagged lettuce. It has to be fresh from the garden or the Farmer’s Market. You want the slightly bitter greens with texture and some of that earthy grittiness you can only get from freshly picked lettuce.

  • Garden Fresh Lettuce
  • Yellow or white onion
  • Half and half
  • Good flake salt.

Wash and dry the lettuce, tear it up and put it in a bowl. Thinly slice some of the onion (personal preference as to how much… but a little goes a long way.) drizzle with half and half, and sprinkle with salt, toss. Voila. 5 minutes from garden to table.

 

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I know it sounds a little bizarre, but if you think about what most salad dressings are made of, it’s some sort of fat, and salt, and seasoning. Nothing is worse than an over-dressed salad, and the great thing about this, is that the excess half and half won’t stick to the lettuce leaves, it will just run to the bottom of the bowl, leaving you with a salad that is perfectly dressed! The bitterness of the greens, the sweetness of the half and half, the slight pungentness of the onions, and the salt are a perfect marriage.    (spell check is telling me that pungentness isn’t a word… I don’t really care.)

This salad is seriously going to change the way you do week night dinners. Super simple, light, and fresh.  Also, since you don’t need very much of the onion or the half and half, you should be able to make this salad all week without having to make another trip to the store.

 

 

 

Super Easy Rhubarb Curd: The only thing you need to eat this spring.

Here’s what I’m smitten with these days: Rhubarb.

I know this tangy tart vegetable (I actually had to stop and think about what rhubarb is for a moment… Is it a vegetable? Lets maybe just call it a plant) This tangy, tart plant can be an acquired taste, and thankfully one that my adult taste buds have grown right into (however, at this point, I think mustard is a lost cause… if I haven’t liked it for almost 30 years, I’m going to guess I’m not growing into that one… I am still undecided about radishes…. I WANT to like them… and mostly I do when other people prepare them. And then I get so excited every spring, and a plant a billion of them because they grow really fast and I can’t wait to have something growing, and then each and every year I harvest the perfect looking radish and am filled with more emotion than one should really have towards any vegetable, and I take a giant bite, chew it around for a bit, and then head over to the sink to spit it out…. EVERY YEAR I DO THIS! Maybe eventually I will learn that I should just eat other people’s radishes and life will be good. And yes, I’m totally aware of how that sounds as I’m reading this aloud, but I’m choosing just to leave it… I mean, I’m not the kind of girl who just goes around eating other people’s radishes…)

 

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Back to the rhubarb… thank you taste buds for getting this one figured out. And lets be honest… even if you are on the fence about rhubarb, aren’t you crushing on it a little bit this time of year? The contrast of the pale green and garnet hues alone have me swooning! For the last few weeks I’ve been observing my two rhubarb plants from a bit of a distance. Not because I am scared of them, though their very large poisonous leaves are always a little daunting, but mostly because I couldn’t think of anything overly creative to do with it. Last year I made rhubarb rosemary gin and tonics, (Amaze balls!) and I was already mentally planning out my rhubarb syrup, but other than that I was a little stumped. There it sat, out in the yard, challenging me from afar, taunting me even, to come up with some sort of amazing and worthwhile dish… I toyed with the idea of going savory (which I still may… I mean I’ve got a lot of rhubarb) But a few days ago I was searching on Pinterest for some bachelorette party ideas, and suddenly saw mention of Rhubarb Curd. Lights, bells, whistles, fireworks, bam, bang, hello! How had I not thought of this earlier? Lemon curd is only one of my most favorite things ever, and both lemon and rhubarb share that wonderful tanginess. I spent the rest of that day wistfully dreaming of rhubarb curd and magical it would be, and at the end of the work day I promptly came home and made up a recipe. It’s every bit as good as I hoped it would be. I’ve mostly been eating it with yogurt and strawberries, but it is also amazing on toast, mixed in with oatmeal, or just by the spoonful.

 


 

Rhubarb Curd- Author adapted from Dana Velden recipe.

Make about 2 Cups

Ingredients

  • 5 medium stalks of rhubarb
  • ¼ C Water
  • ¾ C sugar
  • zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 stick of butter, cubed
  • 4 egg yolks
  • ¼ tsp salt

Method

  • Wash and trim the rhubarb stalks, and cut into ¾ inch pieces. Place in sauce pan with ¼ C of sugar, and ¼ C water, cover and turn on medium/ high heat. Cook for 10 minutes or until rhubarb is soft and begins to fall apart.
  • Remove rhubarb mixture from heat, and pour contents into a blender or food processor (or use an emulsion blender). And puree until smooth. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a food processor combine ½ C sugar and the lemon zest. Pulse a few times to combine. Add in the egg yolks, butter, salt, and lemon juice. Pulse a few times until combined. Add in the rhubarb puree, and mix. about 15-20 seconds. (The mixture may look a little curdled, don’t worry!)
  • Transfer mixture into a sauce pan, and cook on a low heat, stirring almost constantly using a heat resistant spatula. It is quite easy to burn/ curdle the curd, so be attentive. Cook until the mixture noticeably begins to thicken (about 12-15 minutes) or until it reaches about 170 degrees.
  •  Pour the curd into a storage jar, and let it cool to room temperature before closing and storing in the refrigerator. Rhubarb curd should last for about a week in the refrigerator, though chances are it won’t last that long!

 

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* a note about the color. The rhubarb I have growing in my yard is mostly green… therefore my rhubarb curd looks like muddy lemon curd. However, I’m quite certain that if you are purchasing the glorious garnet colored rhubarb, your rhubarb curd will be a really dreamy light pink color.

Birthday traditions

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28 years ago today, I was harvested from my mother’s womb ( I say harvested because I was a C section baby, and my birthday was picked off a calendar, they opened her up & out I was pulled… Is that technically a birth? I was picked like a ripe cherry… ) I’m actually eternally grateful to my parents for picking the 21st as the day I would be extracted into the world… A good odd numbered day, the summer solstice, and longest day of the year, they clearly knew what they were doing.

Oddly enough I do feel a fairly deep connection with the solstice. Nothing pagan or anything (don’t freak out mom) I always do sun salutations on my birthday that correspond with the number of years I am, and it seems even more meaningful to celebrate this tradition on the solstice.

Over the past few years I’ve come up with some other birthday rules/ traditions that I would highly suggest following. Or you, know, just find and follow your own bliss.

1) indulge a little (sometimes a lot) I always take myself shopping for my birthday. I know what I like and what I want/ need and it feels nice to splurge. Plus it’s a good time of year to get some necessities ( summer sandals, shorts, new makeup. etc.) it’s true that this year I might have gone a little overboard, which is always the danger. I hadn’t been shopping in a while and truth be told I’d probably be better off splurging on smaller items once a month than an epic day long birthday shopping spree… But a least I’m great a scoping out bargains.

Two things I ALWAYS buy myself for my birthday are alcohol and lingerie ( which sounds kind of like a scandalous combination… If only that were my life!) you always need a good bottle of booze around, and as for the other, even if I don’t have anyone in my life who appreciates the lingerie ( minus the dog, who would probably enjoy munching on it) it makes me feel sexy and confidant, and that is half the battle right there. Even if no one knows what I’m wearing in the privacy of my own home ( well ok, I guess everyone knows now…) I think every woman should buy herself something that makes her feel sexy and pretty, even if there is no one else to appreciate it. Don’t get me wrong, there are still a lot of evenings spent in sweat pants. But it’s nice to have options. Pretty options. PLUS I really do need to restock on unmentionables every year because my troll pet tends to eat all the cute skivvies ( I’ve tried to feed him the ugly granny panties, and he is un-interested… Which in itself should probably be a sign. But come on, we a have those underwear for running, or whatever, and inevitably they will be the underwear you happen to be wearing on the day you get hit by a bus or get your skirt tucked into your underwear… And it will be embarrassing and traumatic, and you will think ” why do I even own this tragic pair of underwear in the first place” and the answer to that is: it is really really uncomfortable to teach/ take a yoga class in cute/ sexy underwear. Either way, Toby will not eat the ugly ones, even if they are left on the bathroom floor… However he will eat anything remotely lacy… Pervert). Anyway, what I’m getting at, is that is usually a good idea to buy yourself new underwear once a year anyway, and why not spice it up a bit for good measure?

2) have low expectations. Birthdays are birthdays and they come and go, and people forget, and the world doesn’t stop. I think it’s important to do something special for yourself, ad maybe plan something with friends, but overall I’m done with the expectations, and so the day always turns out to be just perfect. I usually plan a dinner or something with friends either before or after the actual day, so the day itself can just be lazy and spontaneous. ( though this year I did a pre dinner with one group of friends, and real dinner with another, and it was just delightful… Minus the birthday hat that was forced upon me by the restaurant staff… I mean it was fine, but it was absolutely against my will.)

3) eat whatever the hell you want. Today for breakfast I made a tower of meat & cheese. Enough said. ( especially if there is a foam hat involved… You earned it!)

There are other tried and true birthday rules and traditions that I have, but I’m full of food and wine, I am writing this from my phone, and I have to get up and go back to work tomorrow. So instead, I will say goodnight, and spend the last few minutes of the solstice out basking in the moonlight, sans birthday crown. 🙂

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Dear world, I’m distracted by summer time

Hey people,
I know I haven’t been posting very frequently. I write blog posts in my head, but then finding the time to sit down and type them out is a completely different matter.

I could make excuses about how I still have yet to buy a computer, and blogging from a smart phone is tedious etc. but the real truth of the matter is this: it’s summer, I’m working 60 hours a week, and these days my free moments are spent frolicking outside, training for a half marathon, teaching yoga, playing with my slightly neglected bulldog, and working in the yard an garden. Throw in laundry, cleaning , and pretending to have a social life ( ok, and watching copious amounts of Arrested Development) and there isn’t a ton of free time to type out my thoughts….

Rather than apologizing, or feeling guilty, I’m choosing to just roll with it. I have some great things to blog about in the upcoming weeks, bulldog birthday parties, half marathon training, engagement parties, garden harvest, and awkward work situations ( yesterday I actually said out loud ” well, we need more sausage baskets!” I also accidentally covered my cousin in lasagna… These are all good stories.)

All I can say, is that I hope you are all enjoying the summer as well, and each of you are equally as busy basking in the sunshine & activities that come with this season.

In the meantime I will appease you with photos from the garden, and a very dapper bulldog.

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Rhubarb Rosemary Gin and Tonics

 

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One of the most fun things about my house, is discovering the things that are coming up in the garden. This is my first spring here, so there are a number of surprises. One of my favorite things thus far, has been the two huge rhubarb plants in the back yard. I have no idea how old they are, and if they have a story (I’m sure they do, but it isn’t mine) and I’ve spent the last few weeks, harvesting, and prepping the rhubarb for some delicious thing. It isn’t the “best” rhubarb in the world, the stalks are a little gangly and woody, and they are mostly green-ish, but I still managed to get quite a harvest, and have put quite a bit in the freezer for future jams, bread, and pies.

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Yesterday I was feeling like I needed a domestic project though, and so I wandered out to the garden to see if there was anything interesting to harvest. I ended up picking a handful of rhubarb, and immediately came inside to start on a simple syrup. I wanted to create something fresh, and herbal, and decided that rosemary would pair wonderfully with the tartness of the rhubarb. I tend to lean away from using rosemary in conventional ways, because the flavor can be really overpowering, and generally speaking I think it gets overused… but give me a rosemary pairing that is a little outside of the box, and I’m all over it (rosemary thyme sugar cookies are my favorite things on the planet). Rhubarb rosemary gin and tonic anyone?

My  favorite part (or one of my favorite parts)  of my new job is playing bar tender, and coming up with new and unusual cocktails that have a fresh market flair to them. The lemon-basil vodka tonics have been a smashing success, and have a permanent home on the menu, and the Cucumber rosemary gin and tonics have had great reviews as well… Now if only the summer weather would stick around. Hello Oregon, we are ready for the refreshing cocktails!

As I simmered the rhubarb with sugar, water, rosemary and lemon I started to scheme all the tasty things I could do with the concoction. My immediate thought was of course the gin and tonic (because it sounds delicious, right?) but there was also a bottle of Prosecco in my fridge staring me down, and what better to pair with a bit of bubbles than a wonderfully pink and herbaceous syrup? (I’m actually drinking this right now, hello-wine Wednesday! its fabulous. I don’t usually drink in the middle of the day, but I had to take some photos for this post, and when in Rome/ when it is your weekend you drink the rhubarb rosemary bubbles for lunch).

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For those of you who have not cooked with rhubarb, it disintegrates into a stringy mush of swamp water fairly quickly. Don’t let this deter you… the end product is totally worth it. Once the syrup was fully infused with the rhubarb and rosemary flavor, I strained off solids, and the result was a beautiful pale pink liquid. No more swamp water, hello cocktail possibilities. (plus the rhubarb mush is totally delicious, and I would highly recommend eating it by the spoonful, spreading it on toast, or putting it in a crepe.)

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I’m totally obsessed with the blush color of the syrup, something about it just makes me feel very lady like… perfect for brunches, bridal showers, or just a Wednesday afternoon. The party-thrower/ hostess in me wanted to add a little more flair to the cocktails, so I froze some rosemary in my ice cubes. It is so simple, and presents amazingly, and can be done with any herb or edible flower. I love adding mint or lavender to ice cubes for lemonade, and borage blossoms and rose petals make a beautiful addition to any punch.

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Rhubarb Rosemary Simple Syrup:
Equal parts sugar and water (I used 2 cups of each)
roughly two cups of diced rhubarb
juice from 1/2 a lemon
4-5 small sprigs of rosemary.

Combine water, sugar, rosemary, rhubarb and lemon juice in a sauce pan. Slowly bring to a boil, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain out solids and save for some delicious snack.

I’d love to see what other delicious ideas people have for this syrup, and highly encourage you to share them here!

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Rhubarb Rosemary Gin and tonic:

2 oz gin (I used Ransom gin, my absolute favorite)
1 oz rhubarb rosemary simple syrup
tonic water to taste
garnish with lime wedge & sprig of rosemary.

Rhubarb Rosemary Prosecco Sparkler
1-2 oz of rhubarb rosemary simple syrup (or to taste)
top off with prosecco & a rosemary garnish.

 

Little nugget of a post

Ok, bare with me readers, I’m writing this teeny tiny post from my i-phone. Just a quick update, I still don’t have a new computer ( I bought a Dyson vacuum instead… Hello grown up. But I must say it’s pretty much the best purchase I’ve ever made!) it has also been 80 degrees, and pretty much most of my spare time is being spent in the garden. Aka all my blog hours are spent outside or vacuuming… But it’s an ok thing. I promise to keep blogging, I write full blown blog posts in my head… If only they could make their way to cyber space without me actually having to type them. But be on the lookout for some gardening posts, kitchen tours, half marathon training, dinner party-ing, wonderful spring/ summer blog posts. Hang in there & I promise to write more soon! In the meantime here are some pictures… ( I hope it works posting it from this ap!)

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