Everything in Moderation, Even Moderation (Part 1)

I’m an all or nothing type of gal these days. When I find something that excites me, I want it all. Now! There’s no such thing as patience. Why wait? What’s the point in that? That’s no fun! BUT, if I don’t cultivate said excitement-inducing thing and make it a constant fixture, I’m over it. I suppose you can say that this is where our whole culture is right now, the social media age is all about instant gratification, but I think the situations are a little different. I have passion, a love of new experiences, an interest in creating a fuller life. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, right? But it can be.

I suppose this new mindset is rooted in my struggle with anxiety. An affliction I’ve been dealing with for over 10 years and only now, in the past year, am overcoming. Previously my anxiety would manifest much like everyone else’s who has the disorder, in a full-blown panic attack. The fear and dread would take a hold of me with (what at the time feels like) a literal death grip, curling up on the couch with eyes locked on the television being the only comfort or release from the nonsense going on in my head. It’s fiercely paralyzing, as well as good old-fashioned torture. If the government had a way to inflict panic attacks on terrorists to make them talk, waterboarding would go out of style. It keeps you trapped in this prison of ‘what ifs’. What if it happens when I’m out with friends? What if I get stuck somewhere and freak out? What if people can tell something is wrong? So little by little you find yourself receding from life in order to keep the monsters at bay and before you know it you’ve created this cage, a mental map consisting of approved and restricted areas for your consumption. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Yet we allow it to happen because the disease tells us that it’s the only way.

So coming up on a year ago I decided to stop medicating my depression and anxiety because I didn’t think it was doing anything anyway. This was both true and untrue, I came to discover. This process has been sobering, humbling, an incredible blessing and the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life, and the most amazing outcome of me sans Zoloft is that I have feelings. FEELINGS! What are those? I always thought I was just extremely easy-going. I was pretty sure I knew what happiness was, I laughed at things, I got mad, I had good and bad days like everyone else. But now, without those antidepressants keeping me level, emotions are raw and they mean something.

Now I covet the rush of running out of the house to go somewhere, partying until dawn, meeting new people, being present, hearing a good joke, listening to a song that makes me think of someone, being locked in an amazing kiss. I crave vitality. These phenomenons register differently in my brain these days. Even being angry is comforting because I am thankful for being able to feel the sensation of my body tensing in reaction to adversity. These aren’t just motions to go through anymore, they are experiences in life that make it worth living. They are proof that living life passively is the greatest sin of all. Then I began to process just how much I’ve missed out on simply by being despondent for so long, and decided to make up for lost time.

To Be Continued…

 

-xo

Is A Return After A Long Absence Worth It?

Hey all!

It has been over 2 and a half years since I’ve even been on WordPress and I’ll admit it, it’s producing a little anxiety. What am I doing back here? They say you can never go home again, but is that my goal? So much has changed that there is no way this blog will follow the same trajectory as before. I’m a different person. I mean, an amazingly different person. But I feel like I have something to say again, something to share, a lot of things to make sense of, and I hope it’s something that interests past and new readers as I once did before.

This blog was aptly named ‘Tales of a 30-Year-Old Nothing’ at the time I created it and now I feel it could be more like ‘Tales of a 30-Something-Year-Old Something’. (Name change currently under debate in my head). When we last met I was mainly struggling through unemployment and the dreaded job search. I got a job, or 2, or 3 and switched to find struggles with nothingness, lack of motivation, uncertainty and instability, depression, this past winter on the east coast (you know what I’m talking about NE-ers), finding purpose, finding my place in life, an eventual move back to my hometown, making sense of the adult I was fighting against becoming and the adult I’m working so hard to be. It’s no pleasure cruise (but sign me up for one of those stat), and looking back knowing that there has been a 2 1/2 year gap between then and now makes me realize how little and how much growth there has been. These progressions aren’t happening over night and they have been met with resistance from my own psyche as well as other’s. The old adage 1 step forward, 2 steps back becomes a way of life and the best we can do is make sure that step forward is more of a stride. It’s the only way to get anywhere. Now don’t get me wrong, there have been many moments of contentment and happiness, times of pure elation, ecstasy, and joy that have shaped my journey. It all matters and plays a role. And really, I’m not a heavy person. Put on a cheesy 80s song (such as the one I’m listening to now) and I’ll dance to it like a lunatic. (Unfortunately, videos will not be provided).

I’m not looking back anymore. At least not to live. I will, however, take a handy-dandy time machine to certain points that I feel are important to address in hopes of achieving a deeper understanding and to share with those who are/have been stuck right along with me.

So I’ve heard starting at the very beginning is a very good place to start, and I feel it’s time to reintroduce myself to the WordPress community. I’m 33, I moved to Philadelphia within the past year after over a decade in Manhattan, and am reawakening a part of myself that has laid dormant for far too long. I’ve always loved writing but occasionally lose focus when life gets in the way. Just like working out, once you put it off a few days, months, years, what’s a few more? This time I’m committed, as I am in all aspects of my life. That is the difference. And I’m on the computer all day anyway (like the rest of us dry-eyed zombies) so what’s another hour? But why am I on the computer all day? I work in social media. It’s a glamorous life of home offices in bedrooms, neighborly door-slamming distractions, soap opera lunch breaks, and bun hairdos. My co-worker/housemate is a cat and I have a pair of Kurdish farming pants hanging on my bedroom wall to remind me of a trip to Turkey in my 20′s. My favorite color is pink and I like long walks on the beach… (wait, just kidding, that last bit is not at all true). Most importantly, I’m navigating through a series of mazes and obstacles on my way to living the life I want and know I deserve. We can do it with a little help, determination, time, and a very well-timed bet that a friend jokingly proposes but you take on with extreme gusto.

-xo

Putting the ‘Y’ in Gym

In seventh grade, I had this insane urge to join the lacrosse team. My sister had done it years prior, and my friends were joining. The thing I didn’t realize was that they all had natural athletic abilities, and I did not. I run like Peggy Bundy and get nauseous after the first two minutes. I never got the ball, let alone scored a goal (or whatever they call it in lacrosse). But during the last game of the season, I had a chance to shine. It was a total inspirational sports movie ending, all in my hands. Last couple minutes, down a point against the rival school, I was at the goal… totally open. My teammate tosses/throws/lobs (?) the ball to me and I watch it breeze right by my head in slow motion. No sports glory for me. To this day, when my nephew throws me a ball I flinch as if I’m about to get a Marsha Brady nose job.

I’m terrible at sports. All sports. It’s just not my aptitude, I don’t even look good in a hat. In elementary school I managed to stretch my required ‘run’ of the mile to a stealthy twenty-six minutes, so after the mile I didn’t have to also play basketball. And when I did attempt to put some effort into it I broke my wrist during the shuttle run (you know the one with the erasers?), followed by a nice old vomiting session. So I went back to my old ways, doing everything I could to do exert the least amount of effort in gym class. There was no reason to hurt myself for nothing, I wasn’t going to become an Olympic athlete. So I worked on entertaining myself by seeing how long I could sit in the locker room before being called for, how loud I could yell ‘get the fucking ball!’ to someone before I got detention, and wishing for mono so I could have a couple of weeks off. Those things worked, most of the time. That is until a high school gym teacher forced me to run the time, with her, while she sang girl scout songs. I didn’t think gym class could get any worse.

Today, I know my place. I won’t play football in the park with you, I can’t go ride bikes with you (those things terrify me), and as much as I love it for some reason, I don’t think you want me playing tennis. I’m happy in my natural habitat, the couch, with a beer, watching General Hospital or a Hoarders marathon.

And for exercise? I walk. Just walk. Because I know how to do that pretty well… most of the time.

-xo

*This short post brought to you by the fact that it’s my birthday! So back to enjoying the day, my way.

The Horrors of Halloween

Way to go, Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. Way to ruin Halloween for everyone. This shocking piece of news has sent me into a death spiral that only huge amounts of sobbing, drinking and sessions in an extreme fetal position can cure. I mean, how can I go out dressed as a slutty ghost/pirate/french maid tonight and grind up against random masked men with any gusto? I’ll just be going through the motions, it’s not even worth it. Now I’m questioning everything about my life. If two super rich people can’t keep a commitment to the vows they recited at a beautiful, huge, multi millions dollar, made for TV, lavishly staged wedding then where’s the hope for me? Am I doomed to a life of poverty and loneliness because no one cares about my every move? What if I only end up marrying just for love, have I failed? If I forgot to wear underwear out last night and no one was around to see it, did I really forget to wear underwear?

I DON’T KNOW ANYMORE!

But in reality, I like the idea of Halloween more than the actual event. I love fall. I love gathering with friends, drinking cider and doing ‘fall’ activities. I love breaking out my hoodies. I love seeing pumpkins at the store. I even like seeing other people dressed up, but I’m too lazy to do it myself. I normally get struck by a brilliant costume idea the week after Halloween, and am never able to remember it the next year. I have since given up on the whole thing. Anyway, I don’t have to wait for that one time of year to tell me it’s ‘OK’ to dress slutty. I’ll do it whenever I want! The bars are super crowded, and the chances of seeing two unattractive people, barely dressed, getting it on in the middle of the bar go up fifty percent. I still like to stop by for a drink to see what people are wearing, but it only reminds me of those elementary school costume parades that read more like a sad chain gang. I don’t eat candy any time of year, and I don’t want a candy corn martini, so unless you can trick or treat for ice cream or beer I’d prefer to make room for the others. So, by the time Halloween actually rolls around, all the excitement (and pumpkins) have rotted and I can’t wait to get on with November. That means my birthday is right around the corner!

Please trust me, I don’t hate Halloween. I don’t even dislike it. I guess I just like all of fall better. I have really fond memories of the holiday as a kid, though I didn’t always dress up and/or go trick or treating then either. It’s just that by the time the 31st rolls around, the hype has gotten to me and it’s not so great anymore. And now. Now, I’ll be plagued with the visions of Kris Humphries quietly weeping into his pumpkin spiced latte as he carves a huge ass in his jack O’lantern wondering what went wrong… and why did he sign that damn prenup?

Have a terrific Halloween everyone! Whether you go all out or stay under your blanket!

These costumes haunt me. My Halloween in Hong Kong 2008

None of these are me, or anyone I know.

-xo

*If you read this and think to yourself, ‘wow, this girl really doesn’t like Halloween’, give it a few months. You’ll see how much I really hate a holiday when New Years comes along.

Oh (S)no(w) You Didn’t!

Yet another crazy day outside my window

 

OK! Whoa there Mother Nature. Settle down tiger. Don’t get all ahead of yourself. It’s only October and you’re thunder-snowing, sleeting and freezing all over the gosh-darn place. What did we do to piss you off, huh? …Besides all that pollution, over population and global warming stuff. I just hope this isn’t a foreshadowing of things to come because:

One snow storm = Yay for a snow day!
Two snow storms = An inevitable acceptance that it is, in fact, wintertime.
Three snow storms = Come on, it’s getting a little out of hand.
Anymore than that, and you’re just a total bitch.

Three strikes and I’m moving to the equator. (Maybe.)

Apparently this kind of pre-Halloween snow made an appearance in 2002, but I just don’t remember. Not one bit. But I’ll tell you one thing: It better not become a habit, missy!

I understand that a lot of people actually enjoy the snow, so you have to turn over that little salt shaker every-once-in-a-while. But I don’t get it one bit. This particular event isn’t going to produce anything worth ‘playing’ in, so what’s the point? Though for me, the threat of snow only gives me the impetus to curl up in bed with some good/bad TV (but, admittedly, it doesn’t take much for me to want to do that anyway).

Maybe I’d feel differently about your ‘frosted flakes’ if the pretty powder didn’t turn into black mush within hours of finding their final resting place. It’s no longer a peaceful stroll when you have to trudge past waist-high mountains of muck just to cross the street. And once it does start to melt, the threat of wading ankle-deep in Coke-colored Slushie-like puddles looms at every cross walk. How fun is that, really?

Now, to reiterate. It’s only freaking October, lady. I want to be walking around in a hoodie on a crisp, sunny day, not piling on layers so I can fit into my goloshes that are one-size too big. I’m just not quite ready for all of this, like a surprise pregnancy or a rogue, airborne beer bottle finding its way across the crowd right to your head. (The latter has actually happened to me.)

But if you’re doing this to get it out of your system, oh (hopefully) benevolent Mother Nature, have at it and go nuts. It would be nice to have a mild winter this year, one where I can actually leave the house without tears streaming down my face from the bitter cold. Though I’m not optimistic.

So, what’s it going to be? I don’t think I can bear this sight much more. It’s not even daylight savings yet for Frosty’s sake!

The date says October, but I want to guess January

What’s your least favorite part about winter?

-xo

I’m Gonna Have to See Some ID

It seems I’m getting carded more than ever lately. (I’m not complaining.)

I suppose I’m thinking about it because my thirty-first birthday is coming up, which means that ten years ago was that all magical twenty-first birthday. (That’s the kind of math I’m good at!) Back then I was working at a restaurant as a hostess, the only worries I had were whether I was going to get just enough sleep to work off the booze from the night before. I could do that back then. Work a double shift, run all over the place making sure the restaurant was running smoothly, go out drinking at midnight with the whole crew, then hang out after hours with my boyfriend, only to wake up and do it all over again. Those were the days. Now, if I have one too many I feel like I need to spend the whole next day in bed before I can function like a normal human being. (I feel like I’ve written all of this before, but all that drinking has killed so many brain cells). The point is that at that time, the start of those drunken nights at the restaurant happened when I was actually under twenty-one. I was able to ride on the coattails of the others who knew all the bartenders and knew who would never ask for my measly ID. I, along with the other few under-agers, became untouchable. I was young, a size 0, had no bills to pay, and it was good.

Until soon before my big birthday…

I ran into an old high school ‘friend’ at the favorite bar of my co-workers. She was shocked to see that she had been carded yet there I was sitting at the bar with a big old beer. This obviously didn’t make her happy, and her pettiness led her to tattle to the manager. As I purchased my next drink, I was busted. For the next couple months I was forced to sit on the sidelines (or drink at home), and it was no fun. The night of my twenty-first birthday, my boyfriend took me out to a super fancy dinner in the city. I insisted on the way home that we go to the bar that banned me to have a nightcap. My glee was apparent to anyone to within a couple bar stools how proud I was to present my legal-ness to that mean, old manager who was just doing his job.

I moved to New York only a couple of months after I turned twenty-one. I never thought that I would have issues buying alcohol again (something that is oh, so important for a college student). But I soon found out there was a liquor store across from my college that didn’t like the looks of me, even though I liked them a lot. They sold $4.99 magnum bottles of wine which I could purchase only some of the time, depending on who was looking at my ID. They constantly claimed they would not take out-of-state licenses and turned me away. No amount of arguing worked, and I argued.

My ID looks way better than this AND it's real!

It upset me every time I was denied because I finally wasn’t trying to fool anyone. But it didn’t matter to them, mostly because they didn’t know how much business they were losing by turning me away. College is a messy time, folks.

Then there are those mega crazy situations where I see people getting carded ahead of me in line, get out my ID in preparation, then don’t even get looked at twice. I can be in full dress-up mode or my pajamas, it doesn’t matter. It makes no sense at all to me.

Last night, I went to get some beer because I spent the day doing a good scrubbing of my apartment, applying to jobs and writing. It was one of those days that I could feel great accomplishment without even venturing outside. I planned on relaxing by drinking at home in my pj’s while the rest of those weekend warriors freeze their nips off in the first deep chill of the season. I ran to the bodega to pick up some beer and brought my ID (just in case). I was right, he asked for it. I can’t decide if it’s thanks to my amazingly youthful looks or because stores are so scared about getting in trouble.

I’m going to go with the fact that I haven’t aged a day over twenty!

-xo

And Now For Something Completely Different

I am not known to be a domestic goddess by any means. I clean on a regular basis, mainly because I don’t enjoy living in the kind of filth that New York tends to create. Though I don’t go overboard. I mean, why waste time cleaning when you can be laying in bed watching TV? But over the past year I’ve unearthed an interest in cooking thanks to my best friend and holistic health counselor. Previously, my most complex meal involved adding a microwaved bag of veggies in cheese sauce to some pasta. Include some pepper to the mix and I was almost going gourmet. Now, though, I’m getting in the kitchen like a good little woman and making some pretty tasty things. It’s helped me feel like a real grown-up as well as shed quite a few pounds, the only negative is the excessive amount of dish washing afterwards.

Last week I made something called sweet potato shepherds pie, a dish that many of my British friends laugh at because it in no way resembles traditional shepherds pie. The only things the two recipes have in common are carrots and onions, but I’m not worried about it because it’s pure awesome-ness. I’ve been thinking about how good it tastes since I finished it days ago, it’s the best meal I’ve made to date. Today, I’m going to make it again and thought I would capture it’s beauty for you all and share this fabulous fall recipe for you all to enjoy!

First order of business is to cook and mash the sweet potatoes

 

Then saute the onions and carrots

This process starts making the house smell amazing. It’s the perfect time to sip on a glass of wine while watching the rain outside the window.

This is the part that you add the beans and broth to simmer

After that is all finished, you add the bean and veggie mixture to a casserole dish and lay the sweet potatoes on top to bake in the oven.

All ready to go in the oven!

 

Finished product right before it went in my belly

 

See the recipe here: Sweet potato shepherds pie. I omitted the leeks and turnips for no real reason, I just didn’t feel like buying them.

So, there you go! If you end up making it let me know what you think.

 

*This short, and random, post is due in part to the fact that I’m currently working on a personal essay but didn’t want to go yet another month without being in touch with you guys. I hope to have the thing I’m working on be finished soon so I can maybe get back to normal.

-xo