Saturday, May 29, 2010

At work.

Sometimes I am actually able to show a little bit of what my team at work is responsible for creating. They are wonderful. I'm very blessed to get to work with such creative people on such cool stuff.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

So far today:

  • I've lost a $20 bill that was meant to supplement my end-of-school gift offering for The Geej's teachers--money I specifically went to the bank to withdraw this morning
  • I've sneezed at least 80 times
  • I've had an anxiety attack
  • I've had some serious stomach issues (use your imagination)
  • The rat bite on my finger has started bleeding again
  • I've entered into day four of a standoff with my mother about some really asinine shit
  • I've broken down in tears
  • I've gotten a call saying I'm past due for a $500+ medical charge that I swear to you I've not yet received a bill statement for
  • I've gotten really, really dizzy and thought I was going to pass out
Yep. Just your typical Wednesday in my hormonally imbalanced Hell of a world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


*Traveling for work.

Arrived in Chicago on Sunday afternoon for a conference that goes through the end of the day tomorrow. I fly home EARLY on Thursday morning.

My days are filled with Seminars at the big Convention Center. They're scheduled from 8am to 5:30pm. [I'm there as I write this, in fact. They had a 2 hr. 45 min. break between sessions for lunch. Why?! I'd rather have a shorter lunch break and get the hellouttahere earlier. Grrr...] Then I hop on a bus and head back to my hotel. It's lonely.

I'm not one of those people who likes Networking at these types of things. I'm here to learn from the Experts and, hopefully, bring some of that new knowledge back to my work and inform/energize what it is my team does. So I'm not making friends. I'm sitting alone, eating alone, etc. I rarely talk during the day unless it's to say thank you or excuse me to someone. That's right: Me. Not talking. For HOURS!! Can you even imagine it?!

Luckily I've gotten to connect with some old friends for dinner during the evenings, so I haven't been TOTALLY pitiful. Tonight, however, I'm dinner plans-free, which is fine. I can grab dinner at the Whole Foods that's (kind of) close to my hotel and eat in my room.

Coming to Chicago for work (which is the only reason I've come here in the 10 1/2 years since I moved away) always feels mighty strange. And it seems that the longer that I've been gone from here, the stranger it feels to come back. There are SO many things I love about this city: It's just epic and gorgeous and funky and energy-filled. But it takes me a while to feel comfortable--to get back in the Chicago groove--when I get here. I always forget how expensive it is here ($12 for a soup/salad bar? Sure!), the utter INSANITY of the cab drivers, and how buttoned down people are (I'm one of the few conference attendees in jeans). Plus, I always have to learn the bus/train routes over again and feel intimidated by the pace of everything. It never really felt like "home" when I lived here (one of the reasons I left), so I guess it shouldn't surprise me when I feel like such an outsider while visiting.

I want to bring The Geej here for a visit when she's a bit older--maybe 8 or 9r. There are SO many cool things for kiddos to do here, and I think she would just FREAK about the skyscrapers, subway and buses. It would be fun to see the city through her eyes, and I think it would blow her mind to think that her dorky old mom used to actually live here (even if it all feels very foreign to me).

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I have always enjoyed cooking, but it has taken me a long time to be able to confidently "wing it" when it comes to preparing food. I've always loved trying out recipes, and can sit down and read a cookbook with  the dedication and zeal usually reserved for a riveting novel. So it's no surprise that it has been a somewhat lengthy process for me to become confident enough in my culinary abilities to just make up my own dishes rather than rely on slavishly following (to the 1/8th teaspoon) a recipe lying before me. But tonight I created something new, so I documented it so that I could share my triumph (or failure) with you nice people.

Well, luckily, it turned out to be quite delicious, so without futher ado, I'd like to introduce you to
Caprese Pie
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put in a store-bought, frozen pie crust, and let it cook for 10 mins. Get it out and let it cool on a wire rack. Take the oven temp down to 350 degrees.

While it's cooling thinly slice 2 large (or 3 small) Roma tomatoes, and enough sweet white onion to equal about 1/3 cup.

When the pie crust is cool, spread a thin layer of shredded mozzarella cheese across the bottom. (You can use vegan mozzarella if that's how you swing.)

Next, layer the sliced tomatoes on top of the cheese.
Season with dried oregano, course sea salt, and garlic pepper to taste.

Next, layer some whole, fresh basil leaves on top of the tomatoes.
After you're done with the basil, layer on the sliced onion.

After the onion, pile on a generous layer of fresh baby spinach.

Now drizzle a little olive oil (maybe 1 1/2 tablespoon or less) and some balsamic vinegar on top of the spinach. Season with a little more sea salt and garlic pepper.
And cover that bad boy with a generous amount of shredded mozzarella.

Holy crap, that looks good, right?

Stick your pie back in the oven (that's now at 350 degrees), and bake for about 35 minutes or until the cheese is golden-brownish.

Take it out of the oven and let cool on the wire rack for about 10 mins. before slicing and serving.

SO good, y'all.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I think it's time for a bulleted post of randomalia.

  • It has been non-stop windy here for several days now, and it's sort of driving me crazy.
  • Maybe that's why I've had a banging headache for nearly three days now. Banging, sometimes sharp pain. However, doesn't feel like allergies. Feels more like small demons with pitchforks.
  • Work has been super busy, part of which has been due to me playing an eternal game of catch up due to being out of the office so much recently, but part of which is due to the fact that we've got a lot going on.
  • The happiest piece of mail I've received recently notified me that I've reached the "annual out-of-pocket maximum" for my medical insurance.
  • I am wildly uneven. I know it's part of me adjusting to these meds that will be a part of my life from now on, but the unpredictability of it is, literally, maddening. One day, so ill feeling and fatigued that I can't get out of bed and am paralyzed by anxiety attacks and crying jags. Next day, fine but speedy and unable to concentrate.
  • I had some REALLY good falafel today.
  • BH is teaching The Geej how to play checkers. It started when we were in Longview for my uncle's funeral, but the lessons continue. Too cute.
  • I've been sucked into It's like a puzzle that you can find yourself TOTALLY lost in for hours. And somehow, even though you're spending WAY too much time on the computer, it doesn't feel like a total waste of time.
  • I discovered that one of my ancestors was named "Hogue". What a kick ass, Texas cowboy name.
  • I also had another ancestor who was a prisoner of war in the Civil War (fighting for the South, natch).
  • Found out I'm on the "wating list" for the writing workshop I applied for this summer. You know what? I'd rather them just tell me "no" outright than keep me hanging with some sliver of hope like that.
  • I'm bummed because I was REALLY looking forward to going to that workshop for about 10 days and, like a dumbass, I put all my eggs in that one basket, so I don't have a back-up plan.
  • However, I've been writing quite a bit, which has felt really good.
  • If I don't get into this writing workshop, should I just go off for a few days by myself on some adventure this summer and focus on writing? If so, where?
  • I have sworn off "Chinese" buffets forever.
  • This whole oil spill in the gulf thing sickens me. However, if you want to get REALLY sick, do some research on how much oil is spilled into the ocean/lakes/rivers on annual basis, just from basic human carelessness.
  • It felt good to see all of those wonderfully funny, talented women on the most recent Saturday Night Live (hosted by Betty White). By far, it was the funniest episode they've had in a long time, and the fact that it showcased all of those hilarious broads made me happy. Women can be funny, damnit! Really REALLY funny!!
  • I'm heading to a conference in Chicago on Sunday. I'll be there until Thursday. I'm hoping to have dinner with some dear, old friends, but I'm bummed to be traveling totally alone.
  • However, my hotel bathroom willl have a SOAKING TUB. So, YAY!!
  • God DANG I need a haircut and my roots done. I look like some meth wench from a long lost episode of "Cops" except that I'm not super skinny, and I still have all my teeth.
  • But at least I got a mani/pedi this past weekend (a gift to myself on Mother's Day).
  • And that required me to shave my legs, which hadn't been done since, um, early April.
  • Interesting factoid: My uncle and my grandmother are buried in the same cemetary as Karen Silkwood.
  • Cannot BELIEVE that The Geej will be all done with Kindergarten in a matter of weeks. What! The! FUCK?!
  • One of her teachers gave her a journal to encourage her to a) practice her actual handwriting and b) have a place to express her feelings and draw. You should SEE this thing. I'm going to treasure it forever.
That's it for now. Coming soon: Lots of Random Photos!! Stay tuned!!

Thursday, May 06, 2010


Yep. This is my 1,000th post. I've sort of been dreading it because there's part of me that feels like I should be doing something really significant and powerful with this post. But I just don't have it in me.

My uncle's funeral service was very nice. My aunt eulogized him in a way I'm sure that he would've appreciated (and probably blushed about because he was a humble dude). And it was great to see and hear his friends and talk about what a wonderfully warm and loving person he was. He was so genuinely nice and funny--just one of those people you wanted to be around. His smile lit up a room, and it was clear that he'd touched many people's lives through his friendship.

But there was the open casket. Why--WHY-- is this something that's done?! Especially when someone's body has been through an ordeal like his had. The body lying in that coffin looked NOTHING like the Richard I want to remember, and yet, now that I've seen that body with its made up stiffness, it's an image I won't be able to erase from my mind. And why do people feel compelled to talk about how "good" the body looks or what a "nice job" the funeral home did? It's a strange tradition that I find terribly creepy and simply do not understand.

However, having the casket open did allow me to slip a small rose quartz heart into Richard's left breast pocket prior to the funeral service. The rose quartz is the stone of "universal love". This heart was given to me by someone prior to my first trip to Russia to meet The Geej. I carried it with me to the orphanage in my pocket the first night I ever laid eyes on her. Then it came with me on my second trip to Russia and has accompanied me on many other journeys--short and long--when I thought I could use a little extra love and support. It only seemed appropriate that it should go with this extraordinarily loving man as he began his next journey into the mystic.

Monday, May 03, 2010


We're here in the town I grew up in but haven't lived in since 1987. We arrived around 4:30pm this afternoon, and we're staying in a hotel in a retail/hotel part of town that didn't even exist when I lived here. It's all centered around a Wal-Mart Supercenter, natch.

Do I still consider this town "home"? Well, yes. And no.

So much of who I am and what I identify with is because of the 18 years I spent living here under the branches of these pines. But my grandparents are dead. My father is dead. My mother moved away in 2005. And there's simply no "home" here for me to come home to anymore. Sure, there are friends/distant relatives/in-laws I could stay with, but that's not the same. And yet, the tug on my heart and my soul that this beautiful, backward, isolated, conservative, segregated, fertile, mysterious land has is strong. It lives in my accent and my tastes. It taps me on my shoulder and reminds me who the Hell I am and where I came from if I ever dare begin to think I'm something special. It humbles me.

Damn it's frustrating.

I am also realizing that my only real occasions to venture up here in the future will be to attend family events of a holiday and/or death nature. BH's dad and brother/sister-in-law live here, so there will be birthdays, and Thanksgiving dinners, etc to attend. But then again, there are the elderly relatives (some of whom I barely know) on my father's side who all still live here and who, let's face it, have entered the darkening twilight of their years. That means that there will be funerals that I will come to over the coming years. Each one will seem like a futher distancing of me from what is supposed to be my "homeland". Strange and sad, but I suppose, inevitable.

And so it begins tomorrow.

Tomorrow I will say goodbye to my mother's youngest brother, Richard, as we lower his coffin into the red clay soil.

He had just turned 11 years old when his oldest sister (my mom) gave birth to me--her only child. Suddenly, he was an eleven year old uncle--a responsibility he took VERY seriously, by the way. He was always the clown and the playmate to me. And when I was old enough to recognize him as "Uncle Richard", he was a teenager, so naturally, I thought he was the coolest mo-fo on the planet. He was tall--like REALLY tall--especially from a little girl's perspective. And with very little prompting, he would lift me up, effortlessly, and make me "fly" every time I saw him.

By the time I was five, he'd firmly cemented his place in my heart as "One Of My Favorite People Ever". And he never lost that title. As I saw him grow into a man and become the father to three beautiful and amazing children; as I saw him always fight for what was right for his children and be strong for them even when that meant him sacrificing in untold ways; as I saw him endlessly proud of the young adults his children had become; and finally, as I saw him fight like hell against a cancer that was inexplicably stronger than he was, I realized: Not only was he one of my favorite people ever, there were SO many OTHER people who loved him just as much as I did. They also got to see and love the Richard that I knew. He also made them proud and made them laugh and just made them richer through his friendship and warmth. What a cool fucking guy... and I was related to him.

Rest in peace, my sweet Uncle. You will never be forgotten by those who were lucky enough to know you. I'll see you on the other side.