Food for thought:

Well, let me preface this by saying I’ve been trying to sleep for the past two hours and have discovered that I am no longer desensetized to coffee as I once was, and should not have had that cup oh, five and a half hours ago. Apparently.

This, I find to be interesting. The only people I’ve ever known to demand that I have faith in them (rather than trust them), are those that had proven themselves untrustworthy. I have a huge problem with the idea of having faith in people. It defeats the very purpose of the idea of faith, doesn’t it? Because faith is believing in/having trust in something when you’ve got no proof for it — but humans are tangible beings whose actions can be remembered and accounted for. Where is the room to have faith in a person? WHY would anyone have faith in a person instead of just trust?

The only reason trust couldn’t be enough for relations between people is if at least one person acted in a way that broke the other person’s trust in them. And then that untrustworthy person demands faith?

I’m sorry, if you weren’t such a slimy douchebag there would be no reason to demand FAITH because you would still have TRUST. And if one person has tangible proof as to why you shouldn’t be trusted, but still “had faith,” that’s actually not what faith is. So that person doesn’t have faith in the untrustworthy, that person is being a silly moron.

I really want to re-examine this idea of faith among people though, because it sounds ridiculous. I’m not being cynical, but trust should absolutely be enough.

To be continued…

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I should not be in the kitchen…

“Pixar is so deep. This is obviously about how, when good wants to overcome evil, it must become evil to win.”

Last night I made (along with a friend) the most amazing dinner I’ve probably made thus far in my life. Which isn’t comparing it to too awful much, but I do believe it was legitimately impressive.

All of the inspiration came from the June issue of Bon Appetit, with the amazing Gwyneth Paltrow promoting her new cookbook on the front cover.

The Appetizer – Strawberry Conserve

We didn’t actually stick to the recipe for this, but the picture seemed pretty self-explanatory. We used ready-made/toasted French rounds from Fresh Market, pieces of prosciutto instead of serrano ham, and improvised on the strawberry preserves – somewhat ingeniously. By cutting up strawberries and nuking them in the microwave, we were able to get a syrup, and just fished out the pulp. Then we added the balsamic vinegar and some sugar to the syrup, layered new slices of strawberry on theĀ prosciutto, and drizzled the fresh juice on top. We thought about doing a layer of creamy goat cheese between the bread and meat but forgot to buy it while in the store; before we headed off to shop I’d had two generous samples of wine on an empty stomach, which meant I was on the precipice of tipsy.

The ever-lovely Ms. Paltrow provided the recipe for the entree:
The Entree – Grilled Chicken with Peach Barbeque Sauce

We pan-seared and then baked the chicken instead of grilling it, which turned out to be a brilliant alternative, and served white asparagus on the side. The sauce calls for adobo or soy sauce, and since neither of us had heard of adobo, we used the soy & he volunteered some peppers from his garden. This worked out perfectly, since apparently adobo is quite spicy. As for the white asparagus: I’d never had it before, but it is still very much asparagus, just without an offensive sulfur-y taste. He was responsible for most of this, and I’m glad, because I don’t think I’d have done as well.

Not to be outdone, I took on the task of the dessert.
The Dessert – Cherry Clafouti

Let me just reiterate that I don’t know my way around the kitchen as well as I should. When I worked in a restaurant & would get stuck with the task of cutting up fruit to fill buckets for the next day, the time it took me to create orange slices provided my boss with such agony so that he would try to arrange any other task for me (as such, I became an expert at the butter bowls). Yet, for this dessert, not only did I stem and pit a pound of cherries, I also zested a lemon enough for a compact tablespoon. I impressed myself.

I also completely forgot to add the salt to the dry mix, and when it came to putting in vanilla extract, we realized we didn’t have any and used grain alcohol instead, which seemed to be a good move. I also poured a little too much of the mixture in the ramekins, so when the clafouti were pulled out of the oven they were a few inches higher than the ceramic. Because we’d already had dinner & been drinking by this time, we forgot about the confectioner’s sugar on top and cut off the head of one clafouti to eat immediately. Turns out, as they cooled a bit, they sank back in to their ramekins; oh well!

It was a great meal. We surprised my cooking partner’s girlfriend with the appetizers and entree ready right as she came home, and even if there was anything slightly unenjoyable, the two bottles of wine we shared during the meal made sure that thing went unnoticed.

So far, the cooking and baking is doing well!

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The Ten Commitments

So, some of the following are things that take continual effort whereas others are ideas I am committed to seeing through.

1. Write Every Day
There really is no excuse for missing a day without writing something. Anything. But I need to get back in the habit, especially if I want to somehow hone that habit into a marketable skill.

2. Go Camping
Sounds simple enough. I’ve never been camping, and I want to give it the full go – somewhere in the wilderness that you have to hike to the tent-pitching area, cell phones off, cooking over a campfire…

3. Apply Myself in School
I mean, I do well in school and I enjoy being a student, but I don’t typically study unless an exam is the next day. So what I’m really going for here is to be a more efficient student, and less of a I-got-two-hours-of-sleep-and-my-entire-body-is-jittering-from-caffeine crammer sort of student.

4. Apply Myself with Applications
Although I can’t control whether or not I get hired, I really need to start applying to more jobs. Over the summer I’ve put in four applications, all of which were to places that aren’t currently hiring. I just need to keep putting in more & doing the follow-through.I’m looking at trying to put in two a week, minimum.

5. Walk My Dog More Often (at least four times a week)
Walking is a fantastic relaxation device, and I love going on walks. Likewise, my dog loves going on walks. I need to take her on more, so not only will I increase my relaxation, but I will do it in a productive manner.

6. Get in Coastal Sunrise/Sunset in One Day
This isn’t so hard in Florida, waking up to see the sunrise on the Atlantic, spending the day on a mini road-trip through small towns, and making it to the Gulf in time for the sunset. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, though, and it’s time to stop procrastinating.

7. Exercise More
I basically stopped exercising at the end of the spring semester because my schedule has felt so hectic, but there’s really no excusing neglecting oneself. I aim to exercise at least four times a week; dog walks don’t count unless it’s a particularly strenuous walk.

8. Get in the Kitchen
I love baking but am not incredibly skilled with cooking or barbequing. And I don’t do enough of any of them to improve, so I need to 1) bring at least three bagged lunches to school per week, and 2) cook dinner twice a week & bake once a week.

9. Distract Myself
Analyzing is a hobby of mine, and I’m not ashamed of it. I love that I do it. But sometimes, it’s kind of pointless. I can’t know with certainty someone’s motives unless I ask them (granted that they know themselves & tell me the truth). There’s also no point in dwelling on things that were painful that I can’t change. When I notice I’m dwelling or lingering, I need to stop and redirect myself.

10. TBD

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On Revenge

I’ve spent a large portion of my time wishing, and attempting to make, life in to a musical. Many a friend has been embarrassed by my lackluster dance moves in the pharmacy or my unexpectedly boisterous diaphragm while walking down the street. Many a friend has joined in. On our own, I won’t pretend impromptu lyrics have been as enthralling as their initial concept. Perhaps that’s why I love Glee so much, particularly when their songs expand beyond the classroom assignments. It may also explain my fascination with karaoke, which is about as socially-acceptably close as I can get to a life-musical.

The day before J. and I called it off, it occurred to me that if life was a musical (with covers), I was singing “Lovefool” by The Cardigans and he was singing, “It Ain’t Me, Babe” by Johnny & June Carter Cash.

Since Saturday afternoon, I’ve been on a T-Swift kick with “Better Than Revenge.”

In my first draft of this post, I typed out the situation in which I felt betrayed – the situation I thought warranted revenge. I felt the slow deflation as my shoulders came at ease, the warmth returning to my sternum. And then I read it, and, embarrassed, backspaced to this point. Who cares? Not you, dear reader. And I don’t want to.

Something my Forensics coach said about anger has always stuck with me. I was doing a coming-of-age scene with an unusually creepy boy in which my character was going to pierce his character’s ear (wink-wink) and his character initially gets angry and yells at me. Well, this guy was pretty good with the psychotically angry, but we couldn’t tone him down to subtlety.

Anyway, my coach said something along the lines of, “Anger is boring to watch. Anyone can shout and sound mean and give dirty looks – can ‘act angry.’ But that’s not what anger is about; anger is the final product of some other emotion like sadness or fear – what is making you angry. Anger needs motivation, so when you act angry, you need to be conscious of that motivation because that’s what the audience really wants.”

That’s probably a lot less eloquent than what he said, and I might’ve filled in the gaps over the time, but that’s the jist of it. The idea that there is an underlying cause. We ended up switching out the creepy boy and it was a fun, if not too obvious scene.

When I started craving revenge, driving home, screaming out Taylor Swift, kind of crying, I thought of some really awesome – awesome? poignant? – things to do to the accused. Small things. I knew my potential for damage, but I also saw how cheap it was. I didn’t want to be the crazy girl that struck back, that someone might say, “well if that’s really her then I don’t blame you.” It sort of transformed itself from that “don’t get down to their level” sentiment to one of, “don’t let them have that power over you.” Which sounds weird.

The “power” idea is more of a retrospective thing, though, because I don’t think it should be some jaded sense of never letting people affect you/feel things/what have you. That’s foolishly cynical. It’s more of a sense that, if that person is capable of such a betrayal, they don’t really deserve to mean that much to you. So it’s not an offensive move as much as it is an ineffective defensive, since you wouldn’t think that of them unless they did have that power over you.

I started to see that my anger wasn’t a “how dare they” ordeal, but that I couldn’t believe I actually meant so little to people that meant so much to me. I felt like a fool – embarrassed, tricked. I was hurt and had to realize that those relationships might have just ended.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe in forgiveness, but I’m cautious when it comes to applying it to a betrayal. I guess that’s a broad category and could technically be applied to less dramatic circumstances. The reason I don’t shy away from it here is that these people knew what they were doing would cost my friendship… So they, together, were comfortable with betraying someone. And separately, that means each person has a price at which they are willing to betray another person. Which is not a friendship I would feel comfortable in.

I’ve tried to actively avoid thinking that their price range for me is an accurate reflection of me. I’ve tried to make sure I don’t see that as the world’s idea of my worth. That’s kind of hard, especially considering these were two of my closest what-have-yous. I’m not sure if that’s justified, or if I should be looking more introspectively on why it wouldn’t be hard for others to “sell out.” Maybe I am making a mistake.

A few opportunities have already presented themselves in which I could exact revenge or say something snarky and hurtful, but I’m trying to resist that. The only people that need revenge are those that have been victimized, and I’m not going to be a victim just because they act in a certain way. I hope I’m not acting like a victim.

The “higher road” also seems a bit confusing. To extend the metaphor, taking the higher road means you can be pushed down – and fall farther. I’m not sure whether this morally right choice makes you more or less vulnerable. If you don’t react to the pain someone causes, what incentive do they have to stop causing you pain? I’m supposed to choose to not only not harm them back, but let them cause me more harm? So again we are back to making sure someone can’t cause you pain. I’m not sure the higher road is supposed to be about becoming disaffected.

Oh crap, this is the whole turn the other cheek thing. I learned this in Sunday school, and yeah, I suppose the higher road does possibly enable you to get hurt more. But it also makes sure that you have a clean conscience, so you are making sure that you don’t do anything you might regret. You’re making sure that you – the only person whose actions you can wholly control, who you have complete responsibility for – aren’t hurting yourself in the long run. Wow, good save Jesus.

I would like to say, “I would take the higher road, but I’m afraid of heights,” but fear isn’t the right reason to stop from doing something. Although I have some really ingenious ideas for revenge, I need to let them go.

Edits, for clarity:

There is a difference in forgiving someone and returning that person to the position he/she held beforehand. In fact, to not seek revenge – and to not desire it would be taking the right steps toward forgiveness. I don’t plan on begrudging these people for what they did, but I won’t rely on them to be trustworthy people, either.

Also, as a sort of update – I am cutting out unnecessary contact. That seems like a given, but it’s difficult to crack the whip on something like that. When I crack it, it still reverberates up my arm. (I wonder what I would say if I didn’t constantly abuse metaphors?) Ultimately, I don’t enjoy the conflict or desire the unease. On my worth as perceived by others – I’m not going to degrade my value to what some people are willing to give. I think acting like the betrayal never happened would be like saying, “Sure, you can play darts on my back – no no, I understand that the metal tips are better for your game.”

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I would date me

There seems to be a grey area caught in the gravity of guilt – an area where the sensation may orbit guilt, but it doesn’t break in to the atmosphere.

Or at least, I think there is.

I’m talking about when you want to feel guilty for something – feel you ought to be feeling guilty, but can’t muster it up. I’ve heard a few other people express this sentiment lately, so I’m confident I’m not alone.

One girl insisted she ought to feel badly for breaking a promise to an old friend, but that because the old friend wasn’t a good friend, she wasn’t compelled. A boy from class told me our class material made him feel like he should feel like a bad person, and he thought that maybe it was right – nonetheless, he was fine. A friend’s mom, whom I affectionately refer to as “aunt,” echoed my own sentiment (hers, regarding her soon-to-be-ex-husband, mine but a one-year relationship) which was that she thought she should feel guilty because she didn’t miss her beau, and thought she should feel guilty because that didn’t actually make her feel guilty.

What is it we’re torturing ourselves over?

In early April, I wrapped up the longest and most excruciating dating experience I’ve had thus far. The complexities of the relationship (or, “why I was right and he is wrong,” as I sometimes have difficulty not thinking of it as) are better suited for a telenovela or at least a FOX dramedy, but what surprised me when it was finished was how short my grieving process was. I mean, I put every part of myself in to trying to smooth out the creases, trying to solve the arguments and make the compromises, and I did initially feel a sense of failure when I said enough was enough – I felt like I was quitting, or I wasn’t exhibiting enough patience and unconditional love.

It might sound absurd when I say I’d set my bar at loving someone unconditionally when we dated for only a year in total, but when we exchanged the first “I love you”s, that’s what I thought that meant. Perhaps it’s symptomatic of being a child of divorce, this bullheaded notion that I won’t end up abandoning love. Or, speaking of bullheaded, I could just blame it on my horoscope. (Taurus!)

The first week was hard. I missed calling someone to say goodnight, I wanted someone to help me change my light bulbs. By the second week, I was able to focus on reality – that nighttime calls got ignored for video games or were peppered with fighting because he was drinking with my gal friend whom he lives with. I remembered that he’d never changed a light bulb for me.

By the third week, I felt like I was on fire. It was the difference between being locked up in an underground basement, drinking scotch until even your liver was crying, and then getting out and seeing the ocean and puppies and rainbows for the first time, while on methamphetamines.

My guilt was gone. My sadness seemed to have never existed. I knew I had done all that I could and would still stick by my choices, and so I had nothing to regret.

What I realized was, “IĀ  would date me.”

This epiphany was the active exercise of self-confidence. At times I might have been a little overindulgent with it, but hey, I’d just seen the ocean and puppies and rainbows! For the first time! ON METH!

Now that the shock is sort of wearing off that I am (in fact) really happy with who I am, it’s time to start cracking the whip. After all, I might be a person that I really enjoy, but what’s great is I know I can still be better.

I’ll be devising a list of ten commitments I want to make to myself as a sort of summer project. The idea is like Lent – choose something that you should be doing or should be avoiding and use that time to practice it (contrary to those chocolate-giver-uppers, we’ve all be there). With practice, I hope to get them under my belt, and then of course start the process over again.

Wish me luck!

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Helen Foster, or Wild About Ferals

Although I’ve been keeping mostly busy, of late, in my down time I’ve been scrutinizing synonyms. It’s a nice exercise for those that derive pleasure from over-analyzing things that may or may not make a difference to them (typically the latter) — after all, these words must surely have something unique about them. Synonyms aren’t around like Doritos flavors, an excess of options for the purpose of variety alone. Whether it’s their derivation, context, or subtle meaning, I’ve been slowly squeezing out what I think it the juice of the matter.

The comparison this time is between the words “wild” and “feral.” At first it may appear that I’m pulling a stunt, or asking for the differences between Helen Hunt and Jodie Foster, but it’s actually much simpler. In context, things that can be wild are as far ranging as salmon, berries, and wolverines. There’s an obvious connotation here other than “removed from society.” These wild things maintain themselves without any cultivation. I’ve heard of relatively few things referred to as feral, though. The most extreme example would be with feral children, such as the 1970’s phenomena over “Genie,” but the word is also used to apply to animals — feral pigs, feral dogs, feral cats, etc.

I can't help it, I'm feral!

With animals is where the separation of the words applies most directly. As seen with the usage of “feral children” there’s this implication that what is feral is a person/thing which is normally meant to be a part of our society, or has been (as a species) domesticated, and which has been instead left to fend for itself in a disastrously negligent manner. The difference of a wild animal and a feral animal is the difference of a gigantic piece of wood floating in a river, and an abandoned boat bobbing along.

I'm not f'cking feral.

To be direct (to stand on, instead of walk around, my soap box), what irks me is when people give me shit for trying to help out feral cats. At my university, the feral cat population is incredible — inevitably, whenever the dorms close for Christmas break or summer vacation, there’s a new population of kittens underneath girls’ dorms when their previous owners realize, oh yeah, they can’t bring this little fluff-ball home. What cats really succeed at is making more cats, but not necessarily staying alive. It might seem pointless to help out one cat among an ocean of felines, but it’s really our duty, isn’t it? These aren’t wild cats. Wild “felis catus” don’t exist. A stray cat is not natural in the way a bobcat is. Feeding these guys is a kind effort, but what they actually need is to be spayed/neutered, treated for diseases, and possibly put in a home if they can adjust.

I’ve seen a lot of students loiter around kitten colonies on campus to get a quick smile from seeing them play in the grass, and I think that’s cool that they like animals or whatever. But it’s not messing with the natural order of things to take that kitten to the vet before releasing it… because that kitten doesn’t belong in the bushes of a college dorm by the natural order of things. Or in a trailer park, or under a house. None of that. Dang it, most of those feral cats don’t live past two years in the wild — just enough time to reproduce.

The more cats that can be given care, the more Lolcats. Right?

It’s human to be humane.

Wow, this was preachy.

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