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

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

Should I Add Professional Part Time Dog-Sitter to My Resume?

Oh, hey! I’m still alive, just completely neglecting things that I find important. I suppose it’s natural to go through these phases, especially in the summertime. I guess we never veer far from our lazy, out-of-school childhood selves once June hits. And still being out of a job, that laziness creeps up on me like nobody’s business if I don’t keep it at bay.

I lose that battle more than I’d like to admit.

BUT! I’ve recently deposited some money into the bank thanks to a job that still has allowed me to maintain my level of summertime sloth, in the form of dog-sitting. And not even for my parent’s dog this time!

... Or maybe dog-lazing

This is Churro. A three-year old blond, long-haired dachshund. I’ve known him since he was a puppy and I love him lots.

He belongs to the family I nannied for for eight years of my life. We tightly bonded during our year in Hong Kong together, and since moving back nearly two years ago and not being needed by a teenage boy as often, I barely get to see this cute little mug. Now, most of last week and again for a week starting tomorrow, I have him all to myself.

As a puppy he was, of course, super hyper-active as well as an excited/nervous pee-er. The boy I watched quite enjoyed getting Churro riled up while on my lap… resulting in many instances of damp jeans. But, as an intense animal lover, it barely bothered me. He also suffered through some abandonment issues, probably stemming from the family’s very busy, very active lifestyle. The issue was exacerbated even further with our move to Hong Kong six months after being brought home for the first time. He traveled separately from us via a pet-handling service, making an over night stop in an Amsterdam pet hotel where he picked up fleas which freaked him out even more. He was a neurotic mess most of his puppy life.

Our first day in Hong Kong

My heart went out to this little tortured soul so I hoped to create a more stable living environment. It also helped me have an easier time dealing with missing the hell out of my cat, who was with my parents on the other side of the world. So maybe my taking on of this new task wasn’t completely selfless. But, being the hired help that I was (though was rarely made to feel that way), I took on Churro as my second charge being responsible for a good deal of his daily care-giving, as well as occasional nighttime snuggle partner.

My favorite thing to do was take him out for long walks most days for exercise. But it was also in hopes of tiring him out so he wouldn’t bark all day when we left the house.

Scratching his belly on the pavement

The walks never worked in terms of the barking, but it did manage to keep my beer belly to a minimum. Those crazy Hong Kong people can party, another year there might have killed me!

Now that the boy is too old for a nanny (you don’t know how many times I tried to figure out how to keep him a kid forever so I wouldn’t have to go look for another, less awesome job), I don’t get to see little Churro much so I was excited to receive an email requesting my fantastic sitting services. (It also meant I would be staying in an apartment with a working air conditioner!) We’ve resumed our long walks, this time enjoying the sights of Central Park rather than the views of the part of the city Hong Kong calls Central.

Looking over the reservoir to the westside in Central Park. NY.

The view of Central over to Kowloon I got to see every time we went for a walk. Hong Kong.

Not too shabby as far as eye entertainment, if you ask me. I’ll take either one any day of the week.

I’m going to miss Churro after this week because I have no idea when I’ll get to spend this much time with him again. But at least when I get back to my cat he’ll have all new smells to inspect when I walk in the door.

-xo

Can’t Say Nothin’

I have a pretty killer case of laryngitis currently, so I can only communicate through text. I feel like Louis in The Trumpet of the Swan, I should get my chalkboard. Today is worse than yesterday, but I’m pretty sure most medical professionals wouldn’t recommend going to a party - where talking over music and drinking all day is par for the course (my course, at least) - as a health regimen. But I had to go, the party was celebrating my niece’s graduation from high school. I can’t believe my niece graduated from high school, because that means I’m old. I remember getting the call that she was born, I was already in my early teens.

She’s the daughter of my step-brother, a step-brother who was already grown when my dad married his mother, so we were never close. But I’ve always been close with my niece, probably because I’ve been around since she was born. She looked up to me from an early age, even when I was too young to grasp the gravity of being a role model.

She’s been through a lot in her young life. Her family situation has been less than stable, she’s shuffled around from house to house, seen many family arrangements. Yet she’s prevailed and become a great young adult with goals of going to college to become a teacher. Goals that, as a high school graduate eleven years ago, I hadn’t yet figured out (and some would argue that I still haven’t figured out).

High school sucks, I’ve said it before, so it’s amazing that some kids actually have their futures kind of mapped out. Being a teenager is like playing a life-sized game of dodgeball where every hormone, emotion, idea, urge, and desire is being thrown at you at once. It’s no wonder most kids are so confused and angry. Who ever says those are the best years of your life is a pretty sad person, or was a jock who was never able to achieve the amount of stardom in his life outside of the gymnasium walls. I do look back on those years with a tinge of fondness, only because I was able to finagle my way out of most of my high school career so I could live my life. Most aren’t so lucky. Who constantly wants to feel like an outcast? Who constantly wants to feel stupid or under insane amounts of pressure to perform up to the standards of their parents? Who wants to be treated like a child when you’re screaming to be taken seriously as an impending adult?

The only things high school provided me was a place to socialize and nap. I didn’t know it then, but I was conserving all my energy for college.

My niece didn’t take the same road, mainly because she is a totally different person, and I congratulate her for that. She’s smart and determined to make a difference, and I’m so excited to continue to watch her grow.

A party is a great way to kick off the next stage in her life… But then again I’m always a fan of finding any reason to party, laryngitis or not.

-xo

No Money, Mo Problems

I had the great pleasure of having my car, Sassafras McGillicuddy, break down Tuesday night. Technically, you could call it Wednesday morning since the time was about 12:30am. My car did that awesome thing where it just decided to go to shut off mid-use, on my way home from a bar.

My first thought was: ‘Oh shit, I hope a cop doesn’t come and think I’m drunk.’ Because I wasn’t, though I had a few. But I know the cops in this town have nothing better to do than harass people about their drinking. I once was pulled over, stone cold sober (and 17) and accused of driving drunk.

My second thought was: ‘Oh shit, this jerk-of-a-car just did this last year.’ And it cost me a couple hundred bucks.

My third thought was: ‘Oh shit, I have to pee and now I have to wait forever for a stupid tow truck.’

My fourth thought was: ‘Yay, my car was just in the shop getting new brakes. What else can go wrong?’ It’s great when these things happen while I’m out of a job!

In my moment of shock, some random kids came to my car window offering to push me out of the street into one of the guy’s driveway. I accepted the generous deed, since I wasn’t completely stoked about sitting in the middle of the road, only to find out the driveway didn’t belong to anyone in the party. I graciously told the dudes to fuck off while I watched them run around the corner, laughing. This driveway belonged to none of them! Fuck.

Within minutes, my friend came to the rescue. My knight in bearded armor pushed me to the library parking lot, and waited with me in to the wee hours of the night. At least I got to cross ‘pee in the yard of a public library’ off my bucket list.

And into the night we sat. I got home around 3:30am with cravings for a half eaten hoagie waiting for me in the fridge. I ate the crap out of that thing.

Only a couple of sleepless hours later I found out what was wrong with my car and more importantly, what it was going to cost. In an attempt to cheer me up, my mom suggested we go to the casino. Penny slots to bring me out of my funk. A perfect place for a broke, jobless person! I just wanted to get drunk so I agreed, also she baited me with some cash. She’s an enabler.

I didn’t win anything, but I could have told you that before I even left. My luck wasn’t going to allow any jackpots to occur. But I did get drunk, I had control over that.

Now it appears my luck has rubbed off on my nephew. He has pinkeye and a cold. What else could go wrong?

Fuck. I have a zit.

-xo

So (Not) Like Candy

I know some of you will freak out at this statement but, I don’t like chocolate. I don’t like sweets in general, really. Of course, when I was younger I did. Give me a candy necklace, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, Pixy Stix, NutRageous, or one of those white chocolate lollipops you could only find on Easter or Valentines’s Day and I was happy. Hell, I even just carried around packets of pure sugar to down throughout the day. But in my twenties, maybe once the soothing nectar of alcohol completely took over my life, candy just didn’t do it for me. At a birthday party? No cake for me. Happen to be celebrating Valentine’s Day? (Something I’m not a fan of as it is). Don’t waste your money on chocolate (or flowers). Big family dinner? Please stop asking me if I’m sure I don’t want a slice of pie. Unless I’m suffering from a random and super rare, intense bout of PMS, I’d rather have another glass of wine.

But I’ll take the ice cream.

Come to mama

I rarely let myself have any in my apartment because I’ll eat it within minutes. And when I’m home doing errands with my mom, she knows I can’t say ‘no’ to a Dairy Queen run. I try to resist and it’s just no use. New York television constantly airs ads for Dairy Queen but the nearest one is in Jersey City. What is up with that? It kills me every time, my mom knows my weakness. But it’s quickly becoming ice cream weather and I’m having a hard time keeping those soft-serve-thoughts out of my non-frozen brain. It’s just so comforting, smooth and refreshing on my tongue, I never want it to end.

Yesterday I got a coupon for Tasti-D-Lite in the mail, and I knew exactly what I was going to do. Today, in between babysitting jobs, I was going to hit up a Tasti-D-Lite and enjoy the hell out of it. Now, I know it’s not really ice cream. It’s frozen yogurt, but it tastes just like ice cream so it satisfies that creamy craving. Good old half vanilla, half cookies and cream, in a dish, because cones just get in the way (I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s how I feel). I walked home liking the spoon until it was as clean as possible, each bite. So good, so cool, so much better than sex. ….Sometimes.

So, there you go. A word to the wise. 99% of the time I don’t want your candy, cake (unless it’s ice cream cake) or pie so please don’t keep offering them to me. And please don’t say, ‘ooooooh, that’s why you’re so skinny!’ I walked fifty blocks before I let myself walk into the store.

Now I want more ice cream.

-xo