Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In which our heroine rambles a lot about love

When I was 19 years old I met the man I thought I would spend the rest of my life with. Yes I was young and dumb, but more than that I was in love. For me, falling in love is a lot like a bolt of lightening. It hits me all at once and by the time I notice something has changed, it's too late. I'm theirs.

It turns out I wasn't destined to spend the rest of my life with Ryan though. While we started as a couple who could grow together, one day we started growing apart. And while falling in love may be a quick flash of light and heat, falling out of love was a sad song playing in an empty room. It happened so gradually and over so much time that I hardly even noticed it at all. But it was still too late.

I spent a lot of time after Ryan figuring out what I wanted and who I wanted to be. Settling down when you're 19 is not easy. I spent most of my adult life as the other half of a pair and I wasn't sure what that meant for me anymore. I wasn't sure if I liked who I was or the direction of my life. More than anything though, I was tired of being bored. Of feeling like I was missing out on all the fun. I wanted to say "yes" more and take more chances and see where it took me.

And I did all of that.

I said "yes." I stayed out too late and hung out with my friends too much. I embraced the opportunities life gave me and learned how to be happy alone. In fact, I got so good at being alone that I started to think it was the best option for me. I am always too loud. Too emotional. Too intense. Too quick to make things about myself. Well, this way I could make everything about myself and I didn't have to apologize to anyone. Dating was a way to meet new people, but never anything more. I rediscovered my sexuality and that was all I would ever allow anyone to be. A way to scratch an itch and a good conversation. If you couldn't do that, then you would never hear from me again. If you could, well I might call you time to time but never anything more and never anything with any real meaning.

Sometimes we do things for so long that we think that's who we are.

Eventually I met someone who made me pause and that simple moment of hesitation was all it took for him to worm his way inside my heart. But even though this man managed to piece together my fractured heart, I couldn't see a future with him. There were too many things that didn't quite fit. Too many doubts. I had been single for a long time and I didn't want to compromise. In a weird way the experience made me both hopeful and unsure of the future. I mean, how could I not want to be with this kind, patient, thoughtful man? I started to think that maybe I had been given my big chance at love. I had seven good years with Ryan and maybe that was it. And I told myself it was enough. Seven years is more than most. It would be greedy to hope for lightening to strike twice. It would have to be enough.

The thing no one told me was that you can't just open your heart up and expect to be unchanged. Suddenly, my loneliness had an edge it didn't have before and I couldn't just go back to the person I was. I didn't even want to go back.

And on a day unlike any other day, someone walked into my life and turned it upside down.

At first I didn't want to admit it to myself. I had made new friends and was trying new things and I didn't want to be bothered with it. I'm having fun and he's having fun and why can't that be enough? Right?! And I guess it was for a little while. But then lightening struck again and I knew something was different. In some small way I'm not even sure of, this man shattered all the petty comforts I had surrounded myself with. Suddenly, I didn't want to see anyone else. That itch that always needed to be scratched started to heal and I started to crave the type of relationship I had thought I would never want again.

Everyone else felt hollow in comparison to him.

Everyone was surprised and in a weird way that surprise hurt me. It made me realize that I had worn a mask for so long that no one could tell where the mask ended and where I began. I had buried my loneliness so deep inside me that no one could see it anymore. I couldn't even see it. But the people who knew me best understood and I took solace in that. They knew me from the days when I was with Ryan and they knew I wouldn't say I wanted something unless I was sure.

But it's not enough for me to be sure is it? He has to be sure as well.

But how do you convince a man that even though you seem to have changed everything you're looking for, you really haven't? How do you prove that this is the very thing you've been looking for the entire time but you had just convinced yourself to stop looking? I said "yes" so many times and I was always left wanting more. That emptiness I carried inside never abated. Now I am left with the daunting task of trying to show something I can't even explain fully. Sometimes I feel like I am Lennie Small squeezing that mouse to show how much I care. For me love has always been a verb and every cell in my body screams out to prove how much I care. It's been a hard lesson to learn that love doesn't always mean leaning and sometimes letting go is the real proof.

Tomorrow is New Years Eve and I don't know how I should feel about it. Part of me feels like I am dragging the same tattered suitcase into the new year. Like maybe I was right. Maybe I did have my chance at love and I am just throwing myself against a wall. It's hard to accept that sometimes that flash of light we see is just a reflection across the surface of the water. Not everything we feel is real and not every person we love deserves that love. The other part of me is more optimistic though. I may be a romantic but I am also pragmatic. I can see the truth to my feelings in a way no one else can. I would never set myself up for failure and I trust in the magic of lightening strikes. He has become the tune my heart hums and I am forever changed for it. It's not always easy to take a look at yourself and realize maybe you're being selfish. It's unfair for me to challenge others and then run from being challenged myself. So maybe this experience will teach me to love in a way that is deeper and less selfish and lasting. Maybe...maybe things will work out.

God I really hope things work out.

But if they don't, at least I've learned that I do want to share my life with someone. I want someone who can bring out the best in me and teach my son some of the lessons I haven't thought to teach. I want to grow my family and build a life of love and acceptance. I want laughter and tears and messes and hard times. I want it all. So optimism wins out and I go into 2016 with my spirit high and hopeful for the future. My heart may be a little battered but maybe being too much isn't always a bad thing. If I seem a little sad lately, this is why. No one said love was easy right? They just said it would be worth it.

Lightening struck twice and I am so very thankful for it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Wants

I hate when people ask me what I want out of life. How does a person even begin to answer such a question? Part of the problem is I'm bored with the perfectly reasonable bullshit most people come up with. The other part is the simple fact that I am terribly unsure. I want so many things that my dissatisfaction seems inevitable. One must to their best to be ordinary though, so I suppose I must come up with something. So what do I want?

I want to be worthy of my friends and loved ones.

I want to stand in a field of flowers as far as the eye can see.

I want to be wrong about love.

I want to continue to be open and honest with my feelings, even though it often hurts.

I want to believe in the magic of ordinary moments.

I want to listen more.

I want to let go of certain hopes.

I want to have an extraordinary love affair.

I want long conversations over too many cups of coffee.

I want the strength to give up on the people who have given up on me.

I want to stop thinking about how things can be different.

I want to be open to change.

I want to want someone who can want me back.

I want to be the best version of myself.

I want to continue growing and learning.

I want to believe I still have a chance.

So I guess it turns out there are quite a few things I know I want for sure. Then again, it is easier to just shrug and say, "I don't know."

I recently came across an old journal and this is an entry I found. I thought it was as accurate today as it was all those years ago.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I'm Lonely So I Do Lonely Things

I'm starting to become this weird version of myself I no longer recognize.

I don't like it.

But I don't know how to get back without leaving too much of myself behind.

Can we ever go back?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mini Cherry Cheese Danishes

One of my friends posted a picture of the cutest little cherry danishes on Facebook and I was determined to make some for myself. I have no idea if this is a similar recipe, but I couldn't be happier with the results. The crescent rolls are the perfect base for the sweet cream cheese and the tart cherries. I am not a huge fan of cream cheese desserts, but these have the perfect amount of filling without it being too much.

IMG_0449 copy

How cute are these? I will make them for my Christmas Eve dinner, but they would also be be great with coffee or brunch.

Would I make this again? Definitely. What a simple and yet beautiful dessert.

Mini Cherry Cheese Danishes

Ingredients:

1 roll Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
flour, just for dusting

Filling:
4 ounces soft cream cheese
⅓ cup sugar
splash vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling

Glaze:
⅓ cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. milk

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Make the filling by mixing cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth.

3. Open the container of rolls and do no unroll them. Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut through them like slice/bake cookies. Make 10 slices.

4. Lay each slice on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

5. Use a measuring cup to flatten each roll out and build a small wall around the edge.

6. Dollop a small amount of filling into each "danish."

7. Add a teaspoonful of cherries.

8. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes.

9. While the danishes cool, combine milk and sugar to create sugar glaze. Drizzle over danishes and serve.

Source: Hugs & Cookies

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Only Ever Yours

Title: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise O'Neill
Genre: YA, Dystopia

Publisher: Quercus
Publishing Date: July 3rd 2014
Kindle Edition: 400 pages

Stand Alone or series: Stand alone

Summary:
In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . .
Review:

“I want to hide, fold into the shadows and become invisible so no-one can look at me any more.”

What does it mean to be everything a man could ever want? This is a question frieda has asked herself her entire life. In a futuristic society where women can no longer have female babies, women must be created in labs. And really, if you're going to make a woman in a lab you might as well make a few improvements right? These genetically engineered women (called "eves") are taught, from the age of four, how to be pleasing to men. No beautiful girl is beautiful enough and weight to height ratios are carefully monitored. Girls are pitted against one another in ranking competitions and the pecking order is completely determined by looks.

At the end of each eve's "schooling," the top tier girls will be chosen to be the wives of different members of society. The next tier of girls will become concubines and learn how to be glorified sex slaves for society. Those left behind will remain in the school to teach the next group of eves while a few will end up "below" (a mysterious underground area we hear rumors about). This is a world where every hair must be in place and every food decision is closely criticized. "Don't be academic" is an insult and independent thinking is a foreign concept.

This is one of those books some people will hate. It is long. Not so much as in number of pages, but rather it feels long. It is bleak. I'm talking A Handmaid's Tale or 1984 bleak. For me the repetitive nature of the book allowed me to empathize with frieda in a way that her character didn't easily allow. She is unlikable. She's petty and shallow and exactly what she should be based on her life. Friendship is a complicated concept when your every move is scrutinized and everyone is your competition to a better life. I think what affected me more than frieda's unlikability though, was the way I could relate deeply to her pettiness. I've envied my friends. I've craved acceptance from people who I've also loathed. And I understand the deep shame surrounding those things. It hurts to be jealous of the people you love and frieda is trying the best she can to deal with emotions she has been told shouldn't even exist.

Another hard thing about this book is the way the ending leaves us in despair. frieda is not the YA dystopian hero who will change the system. She is a broken girl who is desperately trying to find a place to belong. As things get bad you'll find yourself wondering how they can get any worse, and then they will. It's heartbreaking and gut wrenching and everything I look for in a book. O'Neill has managed to write a YA book worthy of dystopia genre. It is complex and unapologetic and I wish I could have read it when I was a teen.

I've read a few reviews questioning how this book has feminist themes due to the inherently shallow nature of the story, but I think that's an overly simplistic view of the story. What O'Neill does is question the denial of autonomy to women and what that could look like. This book is incredibly feminist. It is just subtle and allows the reader to do the thinking without hitting us over the head with it. It is very well done.

Verdict:

I loved it. I read it in one sitting and I felt like my whole body was tingly all over by the time I finished. This book burned a hole right through me and I've never read anything that so perfectly captured the sorrow of growing up and the pain of comparing yourself to the people you love the most. I cried. I laughed. Instant favorite.

Rating: 10. One of the best books I've ever read.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summertime Fun

I don't use my DSLR nearly as often as I should, so imagine my surprise when I found these photos on my memory card. Apparently Holden has been using my camera to take pictures of his friends. I couldn't even get mad when I saw the photographs though.

image
image
image
image
image
image

There's something about these photos that just scream childhood summers to me for some reason. Someone is getting their own camera for Christmas.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing

I was shocked to realize I had never posted this recipe before. It is one of those perfect dishes to take to a BBQ and it is always a hit. Plus it is super simple and fairly inexpensive to make. Win. Win.

IMG_0388

This is one of those salads that gets better the longer it sits. In order to avoid the orzo soaking up all of the dressing though I usually reserve half to toss the salad with right before serving. Sometimes I add black olives or grilled shrimp to the salad as well.

Would I make this again? It's a summer staple in our house.

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked orzo
1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed and drained
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 green onions, sliced
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained $
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice $
2 tablespoons light sour cream $
2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise $
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 peeled avocado, cut into 8 wedges $
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and rinse; drain well. Place orzo, corn, and next 3 ingredients (through beans) in a large bowl; toss.

2. Combine buttermilk, 2 tablespoons cilantro, and next 8 ingredients (through garlic) in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Drizzle over orzo mixture; toss. Top with avocado; garnish with remaining cilantro and parsley.

Source: Cooking Light