Monday, January 19, 2009


I passionately love AS Byatt's works. I own almost all of them, and have read them multiple times. Her words evoke scenes in which all the details are imagined and meaningful, from the characters themselves to the art on their walls, the books on their shelves, and height of the grass on their lawns. One scene she constructed in her novel Possession has stayed with me like few other images from a book ever has. Literary scholar Roland Michell imagines a perfect home to be white. White walls, floors, fixtures, towels. Clean, free of stimulations, peaceful. My mind needs to feel like that for a little while, I think.

I have felt entirely too cluttered over the last 7 or 8 months. Therapy helped, to some extent, allowing me to repackage one particularly traumatic event into smaller, bite-sized pieces. That experience is something that will always hurt, but finally talking it through has freed up a great deal of mental energy to devote to other thoughts. But what other thoughts? I had forgotten a time once existed when I didn't have to think about it at all, and I could use that space to analyze poetry, figure out how to rearrange my closets, plan for the future.

Over the last little bit, work has had many ups and downs, and I have felt unequal to the task. Everything needs to be done right now, and everything depends on everything else getting finished first. My finances do not withstand my own scrutiny. They would wilt under my mother's, and be positively charred to cinders under the eyes of Dave Ramsey. Because of some health issues, my nutrition is all over the map, and I feel a little like I'm backpedaling at the idea of having to get back in the habit of meal planning, etc. Exploring a relationship with a man with whom I have many, many common interests and thoughts on life and the living of it is truly a blessing and a very pleasant distraction (but still a distraction) from more tedious things like, oh say, personal finances, that are desparate for my attention.

Here's where all this is leading: I have to organize. To streamline. To declutter. The kind of decluttering that gets down into my soul and stays there. Reducing my possessions, limiting my consumption of goods, decreasing my debt load, purging my facebook page. Setting boundaries and following them so that I can fulfill my obligations not only with adequacy but with an extra measure of personal satisfaction in a job well done. I would be interested in hearing what other people are doing. I am a little daunted by this task, but think I know where I am going to begin.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Oy vey

Ignore last post. I am now keeping a list of all stupid things done this week that could have been avoided with a little proper attention. Or new glasses.

1. Sunday: Entered wrong website to respond to a Newscoma post. By not putting in the "blogspot" segment, I sent her to an architectural firm instead. While architecture (esp. vernacular American) is one of my abiding passions, I can't take credit for that site. Although I would like to make some suggestions...

2. Tuesday: I replied to an email sent from a "no reply" address. I got back an email from IT that said "THIS EMAIL WAS MARKED NO REPLY. THERE IS NO ONE AT THIS ADDRESS TO ANSWER EMAIL!" For the vision impaired who might have missed their tongue lashing, the sentence was in bold, 48 pt. font highlighted in yellow. They did do that for the vision-impaired, right?

Starting the week off right

Blessings are due to Will for realizing that receiving two rambling phone calls within a 5 minute span qualifies as a "need for coffee" night.

This now-past week was an idiot sandwich. And I was every layer in it. But let us be fair: A thin spread of idiot-mustard should be credited to the IT department. When I follow directions for a project I expect to be met, at the very least, with apathetic acceptance. Being bawled out over following directions goes against every principle fostered by my American public school education.

I exaggerate slightly. There's no medicine quite like hyperbole. This week, here's to not being an idiot. Here's to thoughtful meditation on constructing a class syllabus. Here's to consistent organization of inventory records. Here's to the smooth introduction of my department's website. Here's to fruitful discussion over archiving audiovisual records. Here's to the death of overanalysis.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

So that's what you do with that...

Since moving to West TN, I have become THAT vegetarian. I stalk the bean aisle (unintended pun). I mow down the grains aisle (that pun was). I rack up at the spices aisle. We do, after all, have to eat from other sections of the grocery store than just the produce section. Did I say aisle? More like section of one row. The selection at stores is more limited (reasonably so) in these areas. A typical glance across the bean selection is: bags of black, pinto and blackeyed peas. Cans of black, lima, red, and baked. (Cause why would you ever need plain ol' pork & beans?) Grains--What isn't Zatarain's or Rice-a-Roni is long grain, medium grain, brown or white rice.

But yesterday...I found couscous. Yup. A little yellow package shoved back behind two other packages of pearl barley (also a find!). I slapped that package in my buggy so fast the lady down the aisle jerked her head up. Feeling a little like Lewis & Clark viewing the Pacific, I stocked up on some other goodies and headed to the check out. The manager stopped me as I was helping the girl bag everything and said, "Ma'am. I've been meaning to ask. What do you do with that?" Glad you asked! Couscous is the food of the gods, and I was happy to share with him my favorite "summer" version:

10 oz. couscous (whole wheat or regular)
2 cups water (or use 1 & 1/2 parts water to 1 part couscous)
1 tablespoon butter

**Salt the water and allow water and butter to come to a boil. Pour in couscous and immediately remove from heat. Cover pot and allow to sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. If you ruin it, you're probably already pretty challenged in the kitchen.

Serve with:
Cucumber Raita
*Mix 1 cup plain, non-fat yogurt with 1 tsp. cumin, 1 peeled and grated cucumber, and 1/2 t. salt. Add more cumin to taste.
Feta Cheese
Sliced Cherry Tomatoes
Chopped Cilantro

Still working on my favorite "winter" version, but last night I ate it with 1/2 c. red beans cooked with garlic, cumin, and chipotle and a sprinkle of cheese on top!Couscous bliss ensued.

And then I knocked over the pot, and 3 cups of freshly-cooked couscous ended up all over my kitchen floor. Note to self: turn pot handle other direction when stumbling all over kitchen. Note to reader: allow couscous to dry and cool before attempting to sweep up. Wet, it just sticks to everything.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 and all's well

2009 woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in West Tennessee. Sunny and about...well, not freezing...50 degrees. (Whew. Thanks, Yahoo!) I however, did not wake up quite like the new year, and am just now hitting my stride for the day. I spent New Year's Eve hanging out with the coolest new friend I made this year--who, consequently, I got to kiss at midnight. So starting the new year with such a special "first"--I'm childishly eager to watch the way the rest of the year goes. I'm employed, with friends, healthy family, kissing beautiful boys, and happy. And just think of this: we get a new president in 19 days!