A Loner, Dottie, a Rebel

Yesterday, I wrote over on the food blog in a post titled “’Twas the Week Before Christmas” that because I work in e-commerce and have a slew of 12+ hour days ahead of me, if it’s not comfort food, it’s not getting fucking made this week.

This is a line I feel I have to draw in the sand – I simply have no time or patience for anything I don’t completely love, or for anything that doesn’t make me feel as though all is right with the world as long as that world includes me sitting on my couch in a pair of fat pants, clutching a bowl of something soothing and delicious. Almost everything needs to be ready relatively quickly, as well, because if the past few workdays have proven anything, it’s that I will stumble home sometime around 6:30 or 7:00 and barely have enough energy to keep my eyes open after 9pm. And when I not only have to feed myself but also deep-clean the house to prepare for the imminent arrival of Craig WHO IS MOVING TO SEATTLE AND WILL ARRIVE NEXT WEEKEND, I need all the time I can get before I pass out.

Craig will be staying with us for a few weeks until his paychecks are such that he can find a studio or roommate situation in Seattle. Which is completely okay with me. I honestly do think that Craig will be happy in Seattle, of course because Graham is here, but also because…I don’t know, why am I happy in Seattle? There’s something about the character of the city and the pace of life that satisfies me far more than St. Louis did, and just as Courtney knew that Graham and I in particular would fit in in Seattle, I know that there’s a quality in Craig that will, too.

I am a little nervous about living with someone else, though. This says nothing about Craig, who is perhaps the most unobtrusive person in the world, and yes, I do realize that he’s already got a job lined up and will be working at it immediately and therefore not at the house all of the time. But outside of Graham, I haven’t lived with anyone else for more than 10 years. And it took me nearly 5 years of dating Graham before I’d agree to move in with him. Basically:

Graham says that if I need alone time, I can just ask Craig to put some shoes and a coat on and go explore Ballard for awhile. And I’m sure this would be fine. I just don’t want to get shitty about anything, because as excited as I am for a) Craig to get here, b) our St. Louis-in-Seattle chapter to grow, and c) to be a part of doing something for my friend that I think will ultimately make him a happier person, I’m still looking at the dwindling number of days left by myself and getting a little antsy about them. And when I pack in things like working, cleaning, and cooking and sourcing what I need for Christmas Eve (which is shaping up to be a very non-Italian Feast of the Seven Four Fishes including potato latkes – that I have to make, fry, and freeze in advance – with crème fraiche, cured salmon and ikura roe, crab bread pudding, roasted shrimp with artichoke pesto and some smoked whitefish spread with dark bread assuming I can find a source for the whitefish, as well as some filler like deviled eggs, pickled vegetables and probably some cookies or something), I fear these last few days will fly by and I won’t have appreciated them enough.

And then everything from :40 will be me:

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Swallow This

So. I started a food blog. It’s here if you feel like reading it, and currently, I’m giving it a little more time and effort than I’m spending on this platform.

The reasons for this are twofold, really. One, while I really enjoy thinking about, talking about, and cooking food, I realize that most of the people who read this (or maybe I should say most of the people who still read this) don’t really give a shit, or simply prefer the good ol’ dick and fart jokes on which I made my name. And I don’t blame them. I’ve been writing this in one form or another for close to 10 years, so regardless of how little time I spend here now, a format change at this point would be ridiculous. Best to take the food talk elsewhere and keep a dedicated space for it. Make the jump if you want. If you don’t, that’s fine with me.

Two, even though I realize that most people I know don’t really care about the food posts, I feel like it’s necessary for me to write them because they’re one of the few things keeping my head above water right now. I’ve seen it coming for awhile, been able to sense it just around the corner, and although it’s not really here here, not just yet, I’ve got another major depressive bout to contend with, and sometimes the thought of writing anything that isn’t as immediate as the food I just put into my mouth fills me with exhaustion and dread. It’s as if I don’t know what to say if I’m not saying it about food. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve written and deleted so many fucking posts in the past few weeks (including this one), and there was a point in every single one of them where I veered way off track and just plummeted into a dark, negative space with no way back. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past 10 years, it’s how to stay on topic and keep engaging people while I’m doing it (usually with the aforementioned dick and fart jokes). That’s something I’ve largely lost the ability to do lately, which is a lot of why I’m writing less.

Because being depressed is what it is, there’s not a lot I can do to avoid it. Like I said, I’ve seen this coming for awhile. I’ve had the familiar symptoms. I’ve been digging in and trying to stave them off for just a little while longer, a couple more weeks, just let me get through this other thing and then you can feel free to wallop me good, okay? Kick my ass, just…later.

But I can’t do it forever. It’s as if I’m perched on the precipice of a black hole and there are no handsome movie star astronauts to pull me back. While this will most definitely suck, at least this time seems a little different from the last time and I suppose that’s sort of interesting from an objective standpoint. Last time, I identified the primary feeling as sadness. That sadness affected the way I saw and interacted with the rest of the world and I was worried that I would not be able to continue functioning in a normal way because I was too sad.

This time, though, while I guess there is some sadness, mostly I don’t feel much of anything at all. I feel hollow, actually, and while I was walking around the other day, I briefly imagined that someone could reach an arm into my mouth and drop a stone down my throat and it would fall for ages before going plunk like a solitary object into a deep well. It feels like I don’t contain anything. I have nothing to contribute. I have no energy to spend. Doing anything that isn’t sitting quietly by myself or staring blankly at my bedroom wall feels like scraping the hollowness inside of me to find some wherewithal to participate, and because of this, simple things like talking to a cashier or going to work or writing about my fucking day are fucking exhausting. What’s even more exhausting – not to mention boring – is telling people about it, which is why I sometimes wish that depression had more of a physical aspect so people could just look at me and be like “ohhhh, right.” Currently, the only physical manifestations (or exacerbations, depending on how you want to look at it) are fatigue and vertigo, but based on that criteria, couldn’t any tired old drunk just be depressed?

I’m not sure why food seems to be the only topic that can keep me on track, or why just talking about it makes me feel something like contentment, but since this is the case, I’m choosing to go with it and follow whatever makes me feel less shitty. If nothing else, at least there are more leftovers and baked goods in the house.

 

(I am not asking for comments, or support, or whatever else people feel obligated to provide. I mean, do what you want, I’m just not fishing for it. And please do not suggest vitamin D, exercise, crafting, support groups, or the other things you heard might help. I’ve done what I can and I know what works and this is something I just have to wait out, no matter how interminable the wait may seem. This is not the place to tell me what to do. Thanks.)

Posted in I Eat, I Hate, I Just Can't, Sads, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Examining Thanks

When I woke up this morning, some of my first thoughts were of that Thanksgiving tradition of acknowledging the things (or people, or situations, or whatever) for which we should give thanks. I ran down the quick list – I’m alive, I’m employed, I live in a nice place in a city I love, I’m seeing my friends today and everyone will laugh together and have a great time – but it wasn’t long before my brain took a darker turn, because that’s how it is when you’ve spent most of the past 3 months thinking about Ferguson on a daily basis, firstly because it’s a tragedy of ugly proportions and secondly because St. Louis is your hometown, and even though you left it for some of these very reasons, it still hurts to see it devoured like this, both by the media and itself.

Thirdly, and most importantly, at least today because this is Thanksgiving, I am thinking about Ferguson because of the family of Michael Brown. It must hurt enormously to spend the holiday without him, and it must add insult to literally fatal injury that since August, their lives have been consumed by unrest in Ferguson, the character assassination of their son, their faces plastered on TV screens and the Internet, and yet another reminder that Michael Brown’s life – their lives – still do not matter in the eyes of the law. I try to imagine the emptiness that sits inside them because of this, but I can’t. Every time I get close, it actually knocks the wind out of me. And you know, I might be wrong. It might not be emptiness. It might be sadness, it’s probably rage. I have no right to tell them how they should feel, nor can I, as a white lady living in a cosseted upper class community on the far Northwest edge of the country, now, even claim that I know how they must feel.

I suppose I feel thankful that in the three months before the decision not to indict was so condescendingly, sneeringly, lazily announced by Bob McCulloch, I had ample opportunities to unfriend the people who are clearly on the wrong side of the Ferguson issue.

And I do not mean “who I feel are clearly on the wrong side of the Ferguson issue.”

Because the truth is this – Darren Wilson murdered an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, and at one point stood over the body that lain in the street for hours before any member of the local police force decided to show Brown or the community some compassion and dignity. Wilson’s injuries are limited to a minor bruise on his face, which he claimed was tantamount to a deadly threat. Michael Brown’s included 12 bullets. In his statement, Wilson referred to Michael Brown as a “demon,” a “hulk” and an “it.” He claims to have an entirely clear conscience about the situation. Wilson, the rest of the Ferguson and St. Louis County police force, and the county prosecutor’s office including Bob McCulloch, so devalue black lives that they repeatedly lied to Ferguson and the media, released false documents detailing Wilson’s injuries, militarized their response to peaceful protestors and turned a relatively quiet community into gruesome fodder for nightly news all over the world, and they did everything in their power to discredit Michael Brown, his family, his community, and the protestors who showed up to insist that Wilson should not get away with murder.

Which he did. And if you are in any way defending this, you are wrong.

Although the majority of the no-longer-secret racists are gone from my Facebook feed, there are some who remain to reveal themselves on occasion. Their rhetoric is not inflammatory or baiting, but it is still wrong, or at least in need of yet another reminder of their inherent privilege to which, because of the nature of inherent privilege, they are seemingly oblivious:

“This is not an issue of race.”

Wrong. It is entirely an issue of race. When white teenagers armed to the teeth spray movie theaters, schools, and shopping centers with bullets, killing and wounding multiple people, and are taken alive while an unarmed black teenager charged with stealing a box of gas station cigars is gunned down by a white officer who later refers to him as an “it,” the issue is most certainly about race.

It is about race because there is a systemic and ongoing oppression of people of color in our society, and many white people are able to ignore it because it doesn’t affect them, because they do not believe themselves to contribute to it, and because it is uncomfortable to consider just how hideous this truth is. Our media is complicit. Our police are perpetrating it. And every time we unthinkingly accept their suggestions that black people are inherently violent or that black communities are inherently dangerous, we are guilty, too.

“Michael Brown wasn’t totally innocent.”

He also wasn’t armed. Period.

“What do these protestors hope to accomplish by setting fires and throwing rocks?”

I cannot believe this requires saying again, but PROTESTORS ARE NOT THE SAME AS RIOTERS OR LOOTERS. Get that through your fucking head and never mix it up again.

Also, nobody hopes to accomplish anything by setting fires and throwing rocks. The reason people are setting fires and throwing rocks is because it’s become clear that nothing in the past three months – none of the protesting, the organizing, the peaceful demonstrations – have done anything to affect the way St. Louis County views the situation. None of it worked. These people are still viewed as underserving of respect, protection, or their lives. Few things have changed since their ancestors were brought here on slave ships, and anyone who insists that taking away the literal chains and giving black people the right to vote is enough is out of their fucking minds.

It’s not enough, because this shit it still happening. And a lot of people are mighty pissed off. They are angry. They feel helpless. And if everything that happened in the past three months didn’t get the point across, then some good old fashioned destruction might. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “A riot is the language of the unheard,” and whether these rioters are agitators or criminals, it should not be forgotten that they are acting out because they have not been heard and this makes them enraged.

“Why do people care so much about this when black people kill other black people all the time?”

First of all, shut up. Second of all, shut the hell up. This is an example of how “black on black crime” suggests that people of color are inherently violent and destructive. It is untrue and your assertion that it even requires consideration is ignorant and racist.

Third, the issue is not that one person killed another person. As a native St. Louisan, I know that this happens all the time. The issue is that a law enforcement officer used his position of power as a license to murder an unarmed teenager, and the institution that surrounds him continued the narrative of oppression by lying to protect him, labeling protestors as rioters, and creating a military presence that would not have been seen in a primarily white neighborhood.

A cop can’t kill you because he doesn’t like you. A cop can’t target you because you’re black. These are such simple rules that apparently amount to hopeless idealism, and the absurdity of this is why people care so much.

“I can’t take any more negativity.”

If you are able to turn off information about what’s happening in Ferguson, then congratulations. You have that privilege. You don’t have to live this kind of oppression every day of your life. You don’t have to go outside and realize that the persons in positions of authority all around you see your life as less valuable because you are black. You don’t have to talk to your sons about staying quiet, timid, and invisible when they reach the age where police see their bodies as weapons that must be deactivated.

Must be nice.

“The media/social media made it worse.”

Well. To an extent. It hurts my heart to see national media present Ferguson and St. Louis as things that are bad, mostly because they are only half right. It’s how I imagine some Detroit residents feel when the only time their city is in the news is when the media feels like labeling it as a failure. However, if it were not for protestors demanding their voices be heard and some journalist turning their cameras on militarized police vehicles and baffling arrests, and if people on the ground in Ferguson had not used Twitter and Livestream to document real time events, then we would not have been provided with the information we needed to understand that something very disturbing was happening.

When Bob McCulloch repeatedly dismissed social media in his statement about the lack of an indictment, he sounded less like a community leader and more like a grumpy old man who’s upset that someone caught him – documenting it, no less! – dumping old paint down the storm drain. He and the institution he protects were revealed. This didn’t make their “investigation” more difficult, it made all of us more aware that it wasn’t really happening at all.

“The cops are just doing their jobs / Cops have a more dangerous job than you”

If anyone who kills anyone else shrugs and claims they were just doing their job (or, as Wilson claims, that he was just doing his job and now has a totally clear conscience about it), then perhaps we should evaluate the powers granted them by their job. If that power allows them to gun down an unarmed teenager, shoot tear gas into a community, and arrest elderly Holocaust survivors for exercising their Constitutional right to peaceably assemble, then maybe we should strip them of that power.

Similarly, if a cop feels that the level of danger inherent in their job gives them the right to perform the above acts, then perhaps, as an exercise, they should be presented with similarly dangerous positions that mysteriously do not involve discharging weapons or marching jackbooted through the streets. May I suggest cab driver, store clerk, or prostitute.

What happened in Ferguson is wrong. What is happening in Ferguson is wrong. There are families with missing members today. Business owners who have to worry about their livelihoods. I may have things to be thankful for, but that is my privilege, and certainly not my right.

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CSA: The Sophomore Year

Several years ago, I first heard the term “CSA.” I had a vague understanding that it involved deliveries of produce, but beyond that, I had no knowledge of what it involved, nor did I have a desire to find out. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that when I first heard about CSAs, I was working either two or three jobs and living on mostly brown rice, broccoli, and whatever was in my parents’ fridge when I went to their house on Sunday nights to do laundry (Sunday was my “day off” because I only had to go to one job that day). I didn’t have the money to spend on organic anything and I considered it lucky when those preservative-and-sodium laden packs of Knorr rice mixes were 10 for $10 at the grocery store. For $10, I knew I wouldn’t have to skip dinner for almost three weeks.

Eventually, those two or three jobs turned into one (which sometimes turned back into two but never at the pace it once was) and no money turned into some, and I was finally able to go to Whole Foods maybe twice a year for special occasions (buying crab legs for Festivus once, then buying everything else when Graham broke up with me for a few weeks) and Trader Joe’s when I had a vacation day. I slowly came to understand about CSAs, but I still wasn’t ready to commit to one. I was living by myself and couldn’t imagine eating that much produce on my own before it went bad, and even when Graham moved in, his tastes veered more towards frozen pizzas and leftover casseroles. And besides, I lived in the Midwest. Finding a CSA there was far more difficult than it should have been, considering we were surrounded by the nation’s largest swath of agricultural landscape (although you can thank Monsanto for the monocultures of easily-blighted corn raised solely for livestock feed and grain sold to Wonder Bread).

It wasn’t until I moved to Seattle that I finally “got it” about CSAs. “CSA” stands for community supported agriculture, and it’s the practice of helping to fund a farm’s growing season in exchange for a selection of seasonal, locally-grown products harvested there. In the past 2 years that Courtney and I have participated, the weekly pickups have really changed the way that I think about, plan around, and cook food that’s available in my part of the world at certain times of the year. As for the other food, the CSA has affected my understanding of how it’s produced, how far it travels, and in some cases, appreciate why certain types of it cost so much and how this can translate into actual and ethical value measured in the economic and environmental success achieved by area farmers.

Today was the last day of the 2014 CSA, which, I think, was better than 2013. Not only were we more prepared this time around, but we didn’t get any rotten potatoes! The brussels sprouts weren’t wormy! Neither of us will have to buy flour from the store for probably a hundred years!

What was great:

The salads. If either of my parents reads this, they will be gobsmacked that I have finally come around to salads. They were my most hated food as a kid and I would take hours to chew them into a cud-like sludge just so I wouldn’t have to swallow. But my versions – dressingless! – containing lettuces, balsamic-roasted squash, roasted chicken, coconut oil-toasted whole grain bread croutons, and grapes (or apricots, pears, grapefruit, or whatever else is in season) are one of my favorite things to eat. And I eat them a lot. Sometimes in macro versions out of mixing bowls.

The green beans. Guys, I’ll eat anything with green beans. Except green bean casserole, which I argue contains so actual green beans at all. Anyway. You know the best way to eat green beans? Blanch them for a couple of minutes in salted boiling water, then plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. Then return them to a pot over low heat and drench them in a Dijon-shallot-and-garlic heavy vinaigrette, then try not to ruin your clothes or furniture as you devour piles of them.

 

The chicken and charred broccoli tacos. Years ago, I made it my mission to sell people on roasted broccoli. Stephanie was my first convert and I am still not done because not enough people know how fucking great it is to the point where yes, you can put it in tacos! I promise!

The corn and potato chowder. This was an “eh, maybe I’ll make it” write-in that became one of the best things I made all year, and this was partially due to the expensive Smith Brothers heavy cream that went into it. Not the most economic choice but it made the chowder incredibly rich, silky, and golden.

The rockfish piccata, and also the red lentil soup with crispy halibut on top. Seattle’s top industry may be tech, but in Ballard it’s still fishing, and as a native Midwesterner, I am trying my damndest to honor that without fucking it up.

The pizza. I don’t know how Graham or I would survive if there was no pizza. The sauce can be made in advance and frozen in little go-packs. One pizza can support, like, almost a whole bunch of shredded kale or arugula. And it’s fine to eat sausage and cheese because you’re eating so many other terrific vegetables.

The chilaquiles verde. My understanding is that “chilaquiles” is just a fancy word for “wet nachos” but I don’t even care because these were a triumph.

SUNCHOOOOOOKES. Not enough people know how great sunchokes are. On one hand they feel like mine and Courtney’s secret. On the other, they may replace roasted broccoli as my new food gospel.

The berry spoonbread. Taken from Mark Bittman’s VB6 cookbook before I gifted it to Courtney (oh relax, she was out of town), slightly adapted to include some decidedly non-vegan cream poured on top for serving.

The pear and apple puff pastry tart, which eventually became just an apple puff pastry tart with apple cider caramel. Reason number 3,468 why I love living in the Northwest. Apples. Apples fucking everywhere.

What was not so great:

Artichokes. Guys, artichokes are just not worth the fucking trouble. Either get a restaurant to make them for you or buy them frozen or packed in oil. I just cannot get behind preparing them at home.

All the stuff I tried to make with quinoa. Similar to artichokes, quinoa is not worth the trouble and kind of tastes how bad breath smells. All of our fresh CSA ingredients tasted much better with bulgur, barley, triticale or brown rice.

The eggplant and white bean meatball sandwiches, also taken from Mark Bittman’s VB6. There’s a reason why most people turn up their noses at vegan “meatballs.” Do yourself a favor and fry them like falafel, they’re way better that way.

So the good outweighed the not-so-good, and really, nothing I made was absolutely inedible or even patently unenjoyable. And, as a bonus, we’re much closer to the Ballard Market this year, so even in the winter when the vendors shrink by easily half, I can still head down there to pick up meat, seafood, or anything else hardy enough to grow out of the ground.

The 2014 CSA Weekly Menu Plan

Week #1
Sat: chicken souvlaki w/ leftover lemon tahini
Steak salad w/ nectarines and bleu cheese
Sun: green ful medames w/ pita and roasted broccoli on the side
Mon: cashew chicken w/ carrot, basil, bok choy and napa cabbage
Tues: lettuce and spinach salad w/ shallot, bread, quick-pickled beets and lemon-harissa roasted shrimp
Wed: adobo-stewed pork w/ rice and beans, pineapple and cantaloupe salad w/ basil and mint
Thurs: go out?
Fri: lentil salad w/ bacon, egg, spinach, and mustard vinaigrette

Week #2
Sun: rice and beans w/ chili-stewed pork, kohlrabi and apple slaw
Mon: roasted cauliflower, carrots and green onions w/ honey, brown butter and thyme
Tues: green beans and shredded chicken w/ parsley-lemon pesto (+ pistachios?)
Wed: pizza w/ spinach, arugula, garlic, Italian sausage and dried tomato-anchovy pesto
Thurs: raw bar? + make chocolate zucchini bread
Fri: turkey parmesan meatballs, roasted broccoli
Sat: chopped chicken salad w/ corn, avocado, and black beans

Week #3
Sun: red lentil soup w/ golden beets, mizuna and coconut milk w/ crispy fish on top
Berry spoonbread w/ cream
Mon: salad w/ lettuce, apricot, and lardons, omelette w/ chard and feta
Tues: tofu, snap pea, and peanut-fried brown rice w/ garlic, ginger, and spinach
Wed: turkey-zucchini burgers w/ mint and sumac
Fri: mixed peppers and onion w/ roasted potatoes and chicken sausage

Week #4
Sun: roasted salmon w/ lemon and dill, sautéed corn, scallions and spinach in miso-garlic butter
Mon: quinoa tabbouleh w/ green beans, cherry tomatoes, parsley and feta
Tues: cold noodle salad w/ rainbow carrots, red cabbage, bell pepper and peanut dressing
Wed or Thurs: pasta w/ chicken sausage, kale, and roasted tomato-pepper sauce
Fri: marinated peaches w/ bleu cheese on toast

Week #5
Sat: chicken and charred broccoli tacos w/ white cheddar and salsa
Sun: Ottolenghi veg paella w/ peppers, walla walla, artichokes, tomatoes and feta
Peach-blueberry cobbler (note: only the cobbler actually happened)
Mon: chickpea salad w/ basil, salami and parm
Quick-pickled carrots and chioggia beets w/ dill
Tues: roasted chicken w/ broccoli and sweet sesame salad
Wed: pork chops w/ braised collards and roasted potatoes
Thurs: salad w/ romaine and mixed greens, grapes, olive oil croutons and leftover chicken

Week #6
Sat: roasted chicken w/ herb compound butter, blistered green beans in vinaigrette
Sun: corn and edamame fritters w/ leeks and basil
Mon: triticale salad w/ kale, chard, broccoli, snap peas and leftover chicken
Tues: artichokes w/ sriracha butter, walnut bread w/ butter and salt (note: this never happened because artichokes are simply not worth the fucking trouble)
Wed: pizza w/ peppers, onions, kale and sausage
Thurs: make tomato sauce for Fri
Fri: eggplant and white bean meatball sandwiches w/ tomato sauce

Week #7
Sun: rockfish piccata w/ sautéed runner beans and brown rice
Mon: chicken thighs in tomato sauce w/ chickpeas and beet greens
Tues: salad w/ romaine, warm potatoes, chopped egg and vinaigrette
Wed or Thurs: tofu spring rolls w/ carrot, cabbage, bok choy and basil w/ peanut sauce

Week #8
Sun: summer minestrone w/ leeks, purple beans, ditalini and parsley-spinach pesto
Mon: broccoli, triticale and wild rice salad w/ sweet onions, raisins, leftover pesto and mint
Tues: chicken burrito bowls w/ leftover wild rice, black beans, scallions, corn, kale and cheese
Wed: pizza w/ roasted red cabbage, bacon, and garlic-parm sauce
Fri: sausage, pepper and kale hash w/ cornbread

Week #9
Sat: strata w/ eggs, broccoli, spinach, sausage, bread and feta
Sun: roasted carrot and apple soup w/ carrot butter and carrot tops, roasted pork loin or chops
Mon: roasted broccoli and white bean flatbread w/ chili and sharp melted cheddar
Tues: red leaf lettuce salad w/ chicken, balsamic-roasted butternut squash, grapes and bread
Wed: hasselback potatoes w/ basil crumbs and sautéed chard

Week #10
Sun: pilaf w/ brown rice, quinoa, walnuts, runner beans, dill and feta
Mon: ham and field pea soup w/ celery, leeks, carrots and kale
Tues: friend cauliflower rice w/ sticky tofu and bok choy
Wed: stuffed peppers w/ wild rice, bulgur, carrots, celery, onion, cabbage and sausage

Week #11
Sat: bourbon cider punch
Toasted bread w/ bacon, gorgonzola, and rosemary-roasted grapes
Sun: rack of lamb w/ parsley gremolata, Yorkshire puddings, and roasted cauliflower and romanesco
Mon: corn and potato chowder w/ basil, golden beets, and beet greens
Tues/Wed: out for dinner w/ Graham’s family
Thurs: beef and green bean stir fry w/ scallions, ginger, and red cabbage
Fri: roasted shrimp w/ grits and collards
NOTE: NO GODDAMN ARTICHOKES

Week #12
Sun: salad w/ red leaf lettuce, spinach, arugula, chicken breast, balsamic-roasted squash and grapes
Mon: broccoli, savoy, and arugula salad w/ maple-sesame dressing, peanuts and tofu
Tues: stewed beans w/ yellow carrot, celeriac, onion, garlic, kale, and fried egg
Wed: roasted cauliflower, chicken sausage, and parmesan grits
Thurs: packing + takeout
Fri-Sat: SAINT FUCKING LOUIS

Week #13
Sun: Saint Louis
Mon: Saint Louis
Tues: Saint Louis
Wed: ?
Thurs-Sat: pear and apple puff pastry tart
Omelette w/ kale and roasted potatoes
Corn and carrots sautéed in miso-lemon butter

Week #14
Sun: slow cooker chicken tikka masala w/ rice and sautéed garlic-ginger spinach
Mon: lentil salad w/ red chard, roasted golden beets and smoked salmon
Tues: leftovers
Wed: roasted pork w/ caramelized fennel, cabbage, carrot and apple and mashed potatoes
Thurs: lamb and asparagus tamales from freezer with salsa verde and beans + kale

Week #15
Sun: braised chard w/ bacon, caramelized delicate squash and pumpkin cornbread
Mon: curried chicken salad w/ apples, savoy cabbage, and carrots on pita toast
Tues: Belgian beef stew w/ carrots, russets, baby leeks, sunchokes and beer
Wed: PIZZA w/ squash, onion, and feta
PIZZA w/ green pepper, onion, kale and sausage
Thurs: leftovers
Fri: buffalo-roasted cauliflower and tofu

Week #16
Sun: enchilada “lasagna” w/ squash, beans, kale and cheese
Mon: pasta w/ chard, broccoli, parsley and parm
Tues: leftovers
Wed: shaved brussels sprouts w/ cranberry mostarda, glazed parsnips and roasted chicken thighs
Thurs: ricotta spaetzle w/ greens
Fri: PBJ pancakes with sautéed pears

Week #17
Sun: Moroccan-spiced carrot and golden beet hummus w/ toasted bread
Mon: roasted broccoli, chicken sausage, and sweet potato bowl
Tues: lettuce salad w/ roasted chicken, delicate squash and toasted bread
Wed: pizza w/ kale, arugula, shaved brussels sprouts and sausage/onion/peppers
Thurs: roasted cauliflower and grain (quinoa + barley) salad w/ lemon, parsley, and pomegranate

Week #18
Sun: meatball vindaloo w/ pearl couscous and red chard
Mon: stuffed sweet potato w/ black beans, kale, leftover chicken and cheese
Tues: crispy chicken thighs w/ roasted cauliflower and delicata squash
Wed or Thurs: braised lamb or beef shank w/ carrots, parnsips, leeks and apples
Thurs or Fri: stir fry w/ leftover chicken thighs, bok choy, and whatever noodles are in the pantry

Week #19
Sat: gingerbread molasses bundt cake
Sun: go out w/ Isabel
Mon: chilaquiles verde w/ ground turkey, jalapeno, pinto beans and kale
Tues: savory hulless oatmeal w/ ham, leeks, cheese and parsley and roasted brussels sprouts w/ balsamic
Weds: leftovers + prep/store sunchokes and collards for Misfits Thanksgiving
Thurs: chicken Milanese w/ arugula salad and roasted delicata squash

Week #20
Sun: white lasagna w/ leeks, kale, sugar pie pumpkin and gruyere
Mon: meatballs and gravy w/ carrot mashed potatoes and roasted brussels sprouts
Tues: charred cauliflower tacos
Wed: THANKSGIVING PREP
– Wash/chop collards and sunchokes
– Thaw bacon ends
– Dice onion
– Mince garlic
– Make spice mix for collards
– Portion rosemary/thyme for sunchokes
– Make scallion and cheddar biscuit dough
– Get takeout
Thurs: eat until I die

Posted in CSA-OK, I Eat, I Heart, Seattle | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey Baby

Here I am, breaking my once every couple of weeks/diarist rule to say something about that catcalling video. The video is one thing – I watched it with a mixture of “been there” and “ugh, the world is the worst.” But that was just my experience. Then I saw a bunch of Facebook comments about it, and these made me feel two things:

1- Relief that the majority of my friends – including the male ones! – seem to understand why it became a thing in the first place, what catcalling really is, and why it sucks.

2 – A sometimes uncontrollable fury, disappointment, and exhaustion at my friends’ friends who don’t, especially the ones who say they’re just being polite and will not stop doing so just because of “some girl’s video,” or because it’s unfair when women complain about catcalling but also think it’s rude that no one holds doors for them anymore.

A friend of mine recently thanked me for not unfollowing him after all of his liberally-charged political posts (he meant in general, not involving this catcalling video). I replied that they didn’t bother me because we had the same views, I just expressed them differently. By that, I mean that I simply defriend people whose views I find offensive, backwards, or racist, but I also acknowledged that this is easier for me because I no longer live in the same city as most of these people and don’t feel as pressured to keep them on an imaginary Internet friends list in case I see them at a party or something. I’ve also begun muting people because of their friends’ comments, which sounds extreme but my god…some of you? Have terrible friends. Terrible mouthy friends who apparently surround themselves mostly with people who share their crazy ass views and that kiiiiiiiind of makes me worry about you guys.

But anyway.

I haven’t had to defriend anyone over the catcalling video yet, but I have seen enough comments from friends of friends to make me feel that aforementioned fury, disappointment, and exhaustion. Here’s why, taken almost verbatim from a comment I made on a friend’s page and then immediately turned off notifications:

People saying hello and asking “how are you” is just fine.

But, personally, I don’t think this is really about people saying hello or genuinely complimenting another person. It’s about the catcalling outweighing the polite sentiments by an overwhelming amount.

It’s not the polite sentiments that we [women] hear the most clearly or most often, and because of that, we get the idea very early on and on a daily basis that our bodies are public property to be commented on, and when we don’t respond in exactly the way a guy wants us to (and it happens ALL THE TIME), we’re told we’re bitches, or that we need to smile, or that we should feel grateful that we’re getting the attention.

The imbalance of unwelcome/gross comments vs. polite sentiment is so pervasive for women (starting when I was about 13 because that’s when I got boobs), I feel that we’ve conditioned ourselves to be defensive, exhausted, and creeped out.

And then I saw this compilation of tweets from Jessica Williams on Wil Wheaton’s Tumblr today, and I did the “YEAH, PREACH” nod at my computer:

jessicawilliams 1
jessicawilliams 2
jessicawilliams 3
jessicawilliams 4

Guys. Everyone. Planet Earth. Please understand this – we just want to be left alone. Please just leave us the fuck alone. Don’t insist that it’s about being polite. Don’t say that you’re just being a nice guy. Don’t ask why it genuinely upsets some of us to see a fully-clothed woman walk through New York and be shouted at by dozens of strange men. I suppose I can see why you’re confused, but please do not fucking argue with me or any other women when we tell you this:

This bothers us. It enrages us. It violates our privacy and our personhood when someone we don’t know a) feels he is entitled to our fucking attention, b) feels entitled to our fucking time, c) feels entitled to comment on our appearance or supposed sexual experience, d) feels entitled to a flattered response from the woman they’re harassing, and e) becomes angry when that woman doesn’t provide the desired response as if f) WE OWE JACK SHIT TO THAT RUDE MAN IN THE FIRST FUCKING PLACE.

You might think you’re being nice, polite, or considerate. And maybe you are. Maybe nothing in your brain made any connection at all to the leering apes out there who started spitting comments at me when I was a fucking child who happened to have boobs (these are the same leering apes who have laughed at “if it’s old enough to bleed, it’s old enough to breed” and should consequently be castrated with whatever rusty implement I can find in their garages). But this isn’t really about you. It’s about the women who have been conditioned to think that we have to listen and respond to whatever a man says, no matter how disgusting or intrusive it is. And let me tell you, that conditioning is lifelong. It starts early and it never fucking stops. And we’re usually afraid to challenge it, because as Gavin DeBecker points out in his book “The Gift of Fear,” “Most men fear getting laughed at or humiliated by a romantic prospect while most women fear rape and death.”

Because it’s not about being nice, or polite, or considerate. It’s not about romantic sentiment. It’s about entitlement and power. As women, we are taught that if we do not respond in exactly the way any man, whether he be genuinely polite or a repulsive pervert, wants us to, we should fear for our safety and we deserve that fear. I consider myself lucky to have never been sexually assaulted, and I consider myself lucky to live in a city where nobody speaks to anybody, thus making catcalling fairly rare. But isn’t “lucky” a fucked up way to describe that? Shouldn’t it just be “normal” to live the way a guy does, without fear that an entire populace is out there, making meat of our bodies because they think they deserve to?

This is what society tells women. This is why it is so upsetting to see people – mostly men – come to the defense of the dudes in that catcalling video. Nobody is telling you to be less polite. Nobody is telling you that you’re not allowed to talk to strangers. What we’re telling you is that we’re tired of the whole fucking world treating us like targets, we’re tired of being chastised for not patting you on the head and thanking you for the privilege, and we’re tired of you making this about what you should be allowed to say and do to women who aren’t fucking interested.

The next time you’re struggling with this, try and imagine a world in which your opinions, abilities, and privacy are less than someone else’s purely by virtue of your chromosomal makeup. Imagine that you have spent all of your years from puberty (sometimes before) and outward being belittled because of this. Imagine that you are fearful every time you leave the house. Don’t you feel devalued? Isn’t that sad? Aren’t you tired?

There. Now you’ve got it.

We just want to be left alone.

Posted in I Hate, I Just Can't | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seattle Autumn and the Irish Exit

Since I started writing less, I’ve realized that previously, I’d been seeing almost everything through a certain lens. That lens forced me to experience almost every situation as though it was a potential story to write. While I don’t necessarily think this is a terrible way to experience things, I’m still not totally sold on it being particularly beneficial to me, either, at least not in every aspect of my life.

On one hand, I like being able to see the world through that lens, because it helps me to retain a certain measure of objectivity. It’s a natural lens to have for me and most other introverts, these people who are used to sitting just outside of a situation and observing it and its participants at a bit of a remove. Not only does this help in terms of being able to write about something (meaning in terms of being able to pick out and find value in certain details that a more extroverted, immediately involved person might miss as a constantly moving-but-inconsequential gear in the present), but it also helps me in terms of moderating my behavior and keeping in control of my own experience in the situation. It’s a form of detachment, I think, and a very Buddhist thing to do (and if I’m going to do anything Buddhist, it might as well be detachment instead of, like, not slaughtering giant invading insects in my house).

The thing is, I don’t like being completely wrapped up in a situation, because I can feel myself being picked up and carried off by the current and in those moments, I don’t feel very in charge of my reactions. And when I don’t feel very in charge of my reactions, that’s usually when I say things I don’t mean or imply things I didn’t intend. I would much rather remain a little bit apart and allow myself to be a more reasonable person from the outside.

On the other hand, I do occasionally worry that this preference for being on the outside makes me shitty sometimes, in that I’m limiting myself to the position of an observer and not really engaging myself in whatever’s happening, and as a result I tend to view some situations and the people within them as plot points and characters rather than actual human beings doing actual human activities and having actual human feelings about them. Writing more often made it difficult to remove this lens, and while I’m not saying that I have removed it, per se, I have decided not to immediately translate what I’m seeing through it and perhaps this is a more respectful thing to do for myself and everyone else.

With that said, here’s what’s been happening lately…

The Cat passed away last Saturday. Looking back, it’s almost like he waited to be diagnosed with advanced stage lymphoma before exhibiting symptoms of real pain and discomfort. After the steroids the vet prescribed seemed to make him worse and the pain medication made him loopy, I decided to give him the rest I felt he deserved by making an appointment for a house call, which was more dignified and less stressful for both of us than shoving him into a crate and doing the deed at a vet’s office. So, last Saturday, a very nice lady came over to our place and The Cat got to die in my lap with me and Graham, sitting in his favorite chair.

I know that it was the right thing to do. I don’t regret letting him go or even the insane cost of doing it at home on a weekend (which is apparently much more expensive than doing it during the week, in case this is something you’d like to discuss with your vet should the situation arise). I miss him terribly and the house feels lonely without him. I’m trying to feel less awful about not loving Izzy as much as I loved The Cat and remembering always that they were not the same animal, so it makes sense that I can no longer expect to be greeted at the door or told elaborate stories anymore. It’s hard, but I’ve done this before and I know that it will eventually hurt less.

In the meantime, I put Izzy on a diet because he looks less like a cat and more like a cross-eyed walrus covered in hair. And that it just not healthy.

Speaking of healthy, we’re still getting the CSA for another few weeks and I’m fighting the urge to turn everything into a casserole bound by béchamel, cheese, and more béchamel and cheese. It’s tough but I’m managing, even though I sometimes get a little bit stuck and revert to my weekly standbys of veggie-heavy pizzas (usually bulked up with kale, arugula, and spinach) and leafy green salads with roasted chicken, balsamic-glazed squash, and dark bread toasted with coconut oil and flaky salt.

I’m finally seeing further results in this so-far six month process of trying to be less of a fatass – although I still have the kind of midsection that drives nosy bus stop people to ask when my baby is due, my jawline is more defined, my hips are less padded, and my arms are getting thinner. Weirdly, I think Seattle’s shift into autumn is helping. Not getting out and walking around all day during the summer feels like you’re wasting the season (really one of the loveliest in the whole country), so having an off day when you just sit around the house feels like cheating. But during the fall, when it gets a little bit rainy and a whole lot gray, walking around for hours feels like less of a chore and just…right, somehow. Maybe it’s because we first moved here at the beginning of fall, but at this time of year, every day I’m able to look around and be so completely grateful to live in this place and know that this is exactly where I should be. I love other cities for their own reasons, but for me, living in Seattle feels a lot like how other people must feel when they idiotically gush “I CAN’T BELIEVE I FOUND THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!” even though they both grew up in the same neighborhood of the same small city and know all of the same people. It feels like destiny fulfilled, is what I’m saying, even though I do feel a bit more superior to these people because come on, you guys. Get real.

This time of year is also when Seattleites forget the wild, hedonistic days of summer when they occasionally make eye contact and speak to other people. Now, with the lengthening darkness and long hooded jackets, we again cast our eyes downward and draw back into ourselves, and for someone like me, three whole seasons of introversion take the edge off of a constantly humming anxiety that seems to peak in the summer.

Which is not to say that I don’t experience it at all during the autumn. Because I work for a startup staffed by a lot of younger people, work get-togethers can be a little more…intense than I prefer, and this is coming from someone who, when she was a younger person, worked for an alcohol company that routinely spend upwards of $6 million to throw a Christmas party. Weirdly, working for an alcohol company made consumption feel more moderate, somehow, which is why, when I’m surrounded by 25-year-olds who behave like screaming idiots after consuming half a shitty beer at 3:30pm on a Thursday, I get massively uncomfortable and Irish exit the hell out of there.

Posted in CSA-OK, I Heart, I Just Can't, Paychecks Are Important, Sads, Seattle, Writing | 1 Comment

Ride or Die

Sometime around May 6th, 2002, I was sitting in my living room in Virginia when I heard my husband walking up the stairs to the apartment. He’d gone out about 40 minutes before to buy my birthday present. I had no idea what it would be and didn’t remember giving any hints about what I wanted. I couldn’t come up with anything I wanted, actually. I don’t know if I’d already resigned myself to living in a shithole apartment in an even shitholier neighborhood in what would prove to be the shitholiest of marriages, but the point is, I didn’t know what to expect.

When the footsteps reached the top of the stairs, the door opened. He wasn’t in the doorway. The door was open but he wasn’t there, and just as I was about to stand up and go over there to see what he was doing, this fur-covered thing was flung into the room. It landed on the carpet, took half a second to look at me with a face that said “OH SHIT” and tore ass to the back bedroom, where it went under the bed and stayed there for two days.

I didn’t even get a good look at it. I could tell that it was mostly black with some white at its chin, but other than that, I hadn’t had time to register anything other than it was currently under my bed and oh, yeah, I guess my husband got me a cat for my birthday.

Later, when I asked him why he’d given me an adult cat instead of a kitten, he said that when he’d gone to the shelter, he’d seen plenty of kittens. This cat happened to be in a cage with a whole bunch of kittens, but “he looked angry,” and that was why he got adopted and was brought to me (this is where Robin laughs and says “that cat has Erin’s personality”).

The shelter people said his name was Elmo, which I thought was a) super lame and b) unnecessary, as the people who’d owned him before apparently kept him shut in the garage the whole time so probably never used his name in the first place. So for a few days, we tried names for him. Loki was the front-runner, but for some reason, that didn’t stick. Neither did anything else we threw his way. Eventually, he became known as The Cat. It was what he answered to and appeared to like. Vet offices liked it, too, and I have yet to meet a receptionist who doesn’t giggle when she says “okay, bye, The Cat!”

The Cat was about a year old when I got him, and still spry as a kitten. He loved those toys that are feather strings on long sticks, and would leap over five feet in the hair, somersaulting mid-flight, to catch them. He slowed down eventually, which made him a tad overweight, but with his enormous frame (seriously, I’ve had vets clasp his head and go “oh my god, his skeletal structure is huge…I mean, take a look at this skull!”), he carried it well. He seemed good-natured about it, too, but then, he was good-natured about pretty much everything. He rode curled in my lap during the first cross-country move we shared together. During the drive to San Diego, he stood up in the passenger seat of my car and yowled at passing cars, prompting people to crack up while tearing down the interstate.

Although he was a gift to me, I always thought of The Cat as a shared animal. After all, I was married and assumed I’d have to stay that way. It was in San Diego, though, that he proved his true loyalties, when he bit and scratched at my husband when it became clear that he’d cheated, lied, and stolen money from me and I no longer wanted him around. This remains the only time The Cat has ever lashed out at anyone, and it made me proud to call him my friend.

As he does with most animals, my father loves The Cat. When my father flew to San Diego to drive back to St. Louis with me, he immediately scooped up The Cat, held him to the ceiling (he does this for some reason?) and baby-talked at him until The Cat politely asked to be put down. The Cat chilled out in the backseat for the entire ride back to St. Louis, voicing his displeasure only once, when he was babysat by a security guard so my father and I could get out of the car and see Meteor Crater. The security guard loved it, and other park guests remarked on how they’d never heard a cat so loud. He is talkative enough that I don’t think he knows he’s a cat, and I have no business telling him, so we can carry on mostly full conversations. Anyone can do this with him if they want. He’s happy to oblige.

The Cat accompanied me to two apartments and one house in St. Louis, enduring power blackouts, roving guests, weird schedules, and peaceably (eventually happily, even) cohabiting with another cat (Izzy), a dog (Marley), and a longterm regular-boyfriend-turned-live-in-boyfriend (Graham). When the time came to move to Seattle, The Cat, now older and a little more tired, seemed anxious about the number of boxes piling up. As is our custom, I took him aside and explained the plan. From then on, he seemed satisfied to know that we were doing this together, and that I’d never left him behind since the day I met him, and everything would be fine.

Upon arrival in Seattle, The Cat developed a deserved hatred for a neighborhood outdoor cat who I suspect lived part-time under our house when he wasn’t being a total dick. He held a grudge against Courtney when she looked after him while Graham and I were out of town. He then forgave Courtney and she remains one of his favorite people on earth, and he tells her stories when she comes over. He immediately loved Luke, Puglisi, and Crossley, and for some insane reason made Josh wait for it, but now he can’t wait for Josh to touch him when he walks through the door. He cries if Graham doesn’t pick him up to cuddle him like a baby. He reminds me if I’m five minutes late for his regular feeding time. He had a little trouble with the stairs in our current place, but limbered up quickly with the glucosamine treats I found for his hips. His eyes are gold when he’s angry and green when he’s happy, and he always looks up at me with green eyes.

The Cat is my homie. He is my ride or die. He is my best friend, my road buddy, my silly, my too durn, just so full of the durns, I can’t handle it. As my father would say, he is a suge (short for sugar). He is my Stink, my Big Stink, Stink of the Week, Stink with a Microphone, Stinker-Tron. Oh, he is crazy. Just too crazy. It’s too much for me. This is what I tell him.

After nearly 13 years together, The Cat is an old man. He is slower, weaker, and, now, sicker. I took him to the vet last weekend because I could feel his bones when I pet him, the lustrous fat of his middle age worn away. He’s too handsome to ever be haggard, but in a lesser cat, I can see how someone would use the word. After reviewing his labs, the regular vet sent me to a radiology clinic, where they found (and then took a biopsy of) some masses in his stomach and noted his now-deformed bladder, gallbladder, and pancreas. The Cat has been diagnosed with lymphoma, which means that what I thought would be our last couple of years together has shrunk by a significant margin, and this is really the beginning of the end.

I’m calling the regular vet on Monday to discuss steroids to make The Cat more comfortable. I’m also attempting to get a phone consultation with the cat oncologist (yes, really) about non-intensive treatments like palliative care. There will be no cat chemo, no immunology treatments. They will not improve the quality of his remaining life. For now, although he is extremely thin, his eating, drinking, bathroom, and attention-seeking habits are the same, he doesn’t hide from us or anyone else, and he never shies away when we pet him, no matter where that might be. So while I know that cats are very good at hiding pain, he seems to be a smaller version of his regular self, and for now, I take that as a sign that he can stay with us for a bit longer. When the time approaches, I will ease his pain the best I can. When the time comes, I will let him go.

I’ve occasionally felt silly about being heartbroken over this inevitability, but I remember what Kat told me after Marley died and I apologized for talking about it so much. “Don’t you ever apologize for loving another living thing,” she said, assuming, of course, that nobody would ever love, say, Hitler if he was alive. I’ve tried keeping this in mind, because even though there are plenty of people who think it’s ridiculous to love a cat so much (these are the same people who get angry if they think you talk about your pets the way they talk about their children), I choose to think that I am capable of wholeheartedly loving something that cannot, in spoken English, anyway, confirm that it loves me back. While this may not be as complex as the way a parent loves their child, I think it’s pretty close.

The Cat has been the greatest, most constant, faithful companion of my adult life, and I still cannot get over how lucky I got when he was literally thrown into my home. I love him to pieces and I hope like crazy that I have done right by him, that noble beast, my ride or die.

thecatsays

Posted in I Heart, Sads | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments