Standing Outside the Fire

My Kindle Fire has a slow processor. Not a big deal, except when I started it this morning, I clicked on my WordPress app and it said that the SD card where I’d stored the application wasn’t available, and I needed to re-download it. At roughly 0600, I am slow on the uptake, and I started to panic. Almost immediately, I thought, “JFC. I’m going to have to go back to factory settings to fix this thing.” Because that’s what I do. I get enough of tech support to last my whole life when I’m working. I don’t fix my own computers for shit. I keep everything in the cloud and on a 3 TB backup drive so that if anything goes wrong, I am free to wipe any device and just start over. It is my go-to answer for anything and everything.

I realize how ridiculous this sounds, especially since I am really good at troubleshooting problems on every operating system imaginable. But think of it this way…….. when I was working in a restaurant, the last thing I wanted to do was come home and cook for myself….. and that attitude has lasted for quite a while. I would much rather run on sandwiches/not dogs, snacks, and Cheerios with yogurt than stand in front of the stove. Part of it is indolence. Part of it is that meals have ceased to be an event. I need fuel, not fancy. When I got that through my head, my whole attitude toward food changed.

When I cook, I want to use all the classic techniques I’ve been taught, plate beautifully, etc. That pretty much means a thousand calories more than my computer ass needs…. and that’s a thing. My musician friends call it piano butt…. although I am sure that playing the piano is much more of a workout than playing the keyboard…. or maybe not, since I type 80 wpm on a bad day (let’s be clear- I type that fast when I’m thinking, but not nearly as fast when I’m copying something that can’t be cut and pasted, like a document….. and I’m too cheap to pay for good OCR software).

Speaking of documents, for one job in which I applied, I have no idea why, but they wanted a copy of my driving record. I ordered it over the Internet (not cheap), and it came with password protection. In order to upload it, instead of using OCR, I just printed it and rescanned it to a PDF. The encryption wasn’t hard, just my driver license number, but what employer wants to go through all that shit?

In case you’re wondering, and I’m sure you are, I haven’t had a wreck or a ticket in three years and three months, which means everything on my record has fallen off for insurance purposes. That may change with this latest wreck because I was ticketed for failure to control my speed, which basically means I wasn’t speeding per se, just going too fast for that curve since it wasn’t marked. And paying the city back comes out of the property damage part of my insurance, and I don’t know if that adds points to my insurance or not. I’ll have to ask my aunt, because even though she doesn’t write for Maryland, it would be easy enough for her to find out.

That being said, I have no plans to get a “new to me” car anytime soon. This is because when I am forced to walk everywhere, my depression fades into the background without having to buy a gym membership. Even the Y is expensive…. although I can’t help it. I saw on a Facebook image a copy of the application for the Y, and when asked how the client heard about the YMCA, he put The Village People. I am driving that into the ground for all eternity. Every Y application I fill out. Every. Single. One.

When DDD (Darling Dangerous Dana) and I lived in Portland, there was a YMCA that had pay as you go. It was like, $3.50 a visit. So perhaps I will call them and see if they have the same deal. I think it would be fun to walk to the Metro and back (about four miles) and then get into a hot tub almost as large as a swimming pool. My bathtub just cannot compete.

Walking downtown is infinitely easier than taking the bus. That is because the bus that picks me up at the end of my street (closer than the school bus when I was in elementary school) only runs about every half hour or so, whereas the bus that runs along Hwy. 29, Colesville Rd., runs every 10. However, in order to get to the direction toward downtown, you have to cross that busy highway in front of drivers who rarely, if ever, notice you at the crosswalk. I have almost been hit a number of times, and Franklin Ave., the crosswalk that has a light, has no sidewalk down to Colesville. I run the likelihood of getting hit either way, unless I manage to catch the 14. That bus is rad, though, because one direction goes directly to the Silver Spring Metro stop, and the other way goes directly to Takoma Park, where my favorite restaurant is located about three blocks away, Busboys & Poets. There are many in the city, but Takoma Park is so easily accessible that I’ve been to very few of the others. Taking the Metro is paramount, though, because parking is so limited Jesus might come before you get a space. It’s one of the few places I took my mom while she was here, so I also have that memory to tie me there… even more so that she liked it and thought it was cool.

The other thing that made me so happy is that she didn’t rent a car while she was here, because she wanted to see how I got around and see how my life really worked. We took public transportation everywhere, and it was so much fun to, for once, have someone sit next to me on every trip for a week. The only thing that went wrong is that my mom and I almost got separated on the Yellow Line, and I got stuck in the doors trying to keep my mom from wandering off without me, because trust me when I say that she was directionally challenged and being separated would not have ended well… especially since I didn’t have time to tell her to just wait for me in the station because the next train was only four minutes away.

They finally noticed me an opened the doors again in order to keep me from riding with half my body outside the car…. but I often wonder what would have happened if they hadn’t. #gozoey

Kevin Spacey. Gotta talk about it. You knew I would. Talk about standing outside the fire. That bastard blamed his behavior on drunkenness and gave every evangelical Christian in the nation reason to believe what they already do….. that pedophilia and homosexuality are the same. Luckily, there are less people on that bandwagon than there used to be, but how DARE he.

In the Catholic church, no communion wine is allowed to be left over at the end of the service. It’s like blaming raping an altar boy because the priest had to celebrate five times in a row.

Gay people aren’t predators. PREDATORS are predators.

Once more for the people in the back………

GAY PEOPLE AREN’T PREDATORS. PREDATORS ARE PREDATORS.

If you read the story in its entirety, Spacey got this kid alone (classic looking for a target) and then got on him like white on rice before this kid even knew what was happening to him.

Well, there goes watching Glengarry Glen Ross again.

Maybe Kevin Spacey should just GO TO LUNCH.

Standing inside the fire, because go to hell. I’ve spent too much time with too many narcissists to think you’ll ever change, and I won’t even give you the benefit of the doubt. You can share a table with Sam Adams, Bill Cosby, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen, and Mark Saling.

You can all deal with the heat together… and if, by some chance, hell freezes over, I hope it’s still cold enough to burn your skin off.

This is where I say the part where I’ve gone into my “nothing box,” and my actions will never meet up with my angry words. I’m not going to slice off their heads, but I for damn sure am going to fantasize about it…..

Standing outside the fire.

Sometimes

Sometimes I wish my mother hadn’t died. The reason I say only sometimes instead of all the time is that there isn’t a damn thing I could have done to save her, and there’s not a damn thing I could do to bring her back. Therefore, thinking that every day is just a way to drive myself crazy, and if the past is any indication, it’s not that far a trip. The flight attendants don’t even have enough time to bring out the drink cart.

I’m still waiting for what Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant call post-traumatic growth. It’s possible that it’s happening already, but because I talk to myself every day, I don’t see the changes that come over a year. I can look back at past blog entries to get an idea, but it’s not the same. If I look back by reading, it’s almost as if what went on happened to someone else. It’s been the best way I know how to forgive myself… having the deep knowing that I would forgive this foreign person much more easily than I’d forgive me. It’s how I’ve gotten through every bad thing that’s happened over the last four years. It’s become clear to me that I can’t atone for every wrong, but I can pray and change my behavior accordingly so that I don’t make the same mistakes again. At the very least, I can move on to make new ones. Perhaps that is the post-traumatic growth I’ve been looking for in the first place. I am learning to give up on perfection and become satisfied with excellence…. because perfectionist anxiety is crippling.

For instance, I wanted to be the perfect wife and friend. I ended up behaving so badly that I didn’t even recognize myself. My moral compass became smashed glass and metal on the floor, and I had to learn how to fix it on my own, without any YouTube videos, Google searches, or even card catalogs. Though therapy is helping me cope, no one gets better only focusing on themselves and their goals for one hour a week. It has been backbreaking, mind-bending work to get back to the person I was before I started vomiting up the emotions surrounding emotional abuse that as a teenager, I didn’t recognize or even have words to explain…. with the added bonus of being sent to therapy and, not wanting to get anyone in trouble, danced around every issue; I talked for an hour without saying anything. Therapy as a teenager was something I was asked to do; it was not anything I would have chosen on my own.

That being said, I had to take a battery of multiple choice tests that revealed just how broken and screwed up I was, because I couldn’t figure out how to outsmart those. So, my therapist knew exactly how worthless I felt, exactly how low my self-esteem really was, and exactly how much I needed them. And yet, you can’t help a little old lady across the street if she doesn’t want to go.

However, those emotions couldn’t stay locked down forever… and it only took 23 years. Finally talking scraped off every scab, and cut down into fully-formed scars. I didn’t so much get over anything as stuff it down and pretend it never happened. I didn’t know it at the time, but moving to Portland was just an opportunity for it to be proven to me over and over that really, nothing happened, and I was crazy to think so… to the point where I would swear on a stack of Bibles that it was gospel truth… because why would anyone who claimed to love me so much cover up truth like that? I exhibited every symptom of trauma. I was coached on what to say. I was told that my past was just this big bag of shit I’d been carrying around forever, and I needed to just let it go…. but as anyone who has lived through emotional trauma knows, it’s impossible until you find the problem… that not letting go is not a function of not wanting it to happen.

It’s a function of reliving what happened over and over and over and over ad nauseam because you can’t figure out whether what you think happened or not. Confusion wracks your brain because gaslighting causes you to doubt your own version of events, your truth. Your intuition battles your programming, as if you are living with a 3,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. It’s just one rumination after another…. this big bag of shit you carry around forever and just need to let it go…. but it’s the emotional equivalent of telling someone with depression to snap out of it. Well, Jesus H. Christ. I wish I’d thought of that.

In a way, though, I did snap out of it. The atomic bomb has dropped, but I am still working through the repercussions. I liken it to a local band that’s been together for 15 years being called an overnight success. In my case, though, it’s the reverse. There was a snap of recognition, and then a therapist who told me it would take five or ten years to really feel well…. and even then, it would be a lifetime of choosing healthy patterns in order not to fall back on old, damaged ones. All of my relationships have fallen prey to them in varying degrees, which is why it has been essential for me to create brand new relationships with the new context I’ve been given; my past is not a factor and I cannot be reminded of it from people who didn’t know me before…. when I was completely in the throes of grief, rage, and poor impulse control.

Poor impulse control is a function of ADHD, but compounds exponentially with trauma, because especially when fear presents as rage, you cannot give yourself enough time to weigh consequences and form measured responses. The phrase even keel is not even in your vocabulary in those moments. Cortisol and sin races through your brain because you do not have the ability to second guess. I’ve talked to too many people who have gone through this scenario to know that I’m not special. In terms of fight or flight, trauma-related rage doesn’t even present flight as an option. In those moments, you’re just a loose cannon unfocused on a target, often choosing……………. poorly. You can’t even tell yourself to calm the fuck down, and God help anyone who decides to say it to you.

But most of that rage boils down to one thing; I have to push you away because I am not worthy of your time or energy because I have the capability to destroy you with my pain, even when you say you can take it and there’s no way I can mess you up. This is because in almost every case, you can’t get angry with the person who deserves it. They disappear and leave you to sit in your own tangled knot, because surely they’re not responsible.

While it is true that adults often abuse each other, the most insidious type of abuse is emotional between an adult and a child, because the child automatically believes that whatever is happening is their fault, because the adult is in a position of absolute power and control. Moreover, if no physical/sexual abuse happens, there is no clear message that anything wrong happened at all. I would never say that it is worse than raping or hitting a child. I would only say that it is more muddled and confusing because there is no line in the sand to go back as an adult and say you are definitely sure someone stepped over it. Many, many, many children have had their childhoods taken away earlier in much more horrible ways, and my heart bleeds out for them. But there is also no such thing as competitive suffering.

It’s not the same boat, but it’s the same ocean.

Emotional and physical abuse present with the same symptoms, much like addiction. Symptoms of addiction are the same whether it’s to drugs, alcohol, gambling/spending, food, or sex. I would compare addiction to food and sex to emotional abuse, because it’s harder to figure out addictions to things you need to live a healthy life vs. things you can do without. You need the right amount of food and sex in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Looking at the pyramid, I haven’t seen the right amount of cocaine yet.

If I extrapolate that into emotional abuse, I crave connection without abusing or enabling, codependency or projection.

In terms of how wishing my mother hadn’t died when she did works into all this is that she’ll never get to see me as a truly happy adult…. thriving instead of barely surviving for years on end…. or worse, just flat-out lying about how I was feeling in order to Suit Up.™ At the very least, I was able to take off the mask for three years, but there should have been so many more. In terms of recovery, three years is the blink of an eye.

Which is exactly how fast I lost her.

On Pets

There are people working on the roof this morning. It’s excruciating, all the pounding, because it seems to pulse with my sinus headache. At least they are marching in step. I’ve already taken my Zyrtec and Sudafed PE this morning, and it’s still not helping, so now that I’m on my third cup of coffee in a mug that holds four cups, I might consider a Benadryl kicker. I find that treating the allergy is better for me than treating the congestion…. treating the root of the problem rather than the symptom. I also need to take a shower and clean my room…. the former because the water will wash away whatever’s making me bloom, and the latter being that I am most allergic to dust. I had one of those tests where they put 25 allergens on your skin to see how you react (smaller than most- I think some tests are up to 75 different ones). Dust overtook six other samples. The best thing was learning once and for all that I am not allergic to dogs or cats… I just thought I was…. probably because dog and cat hair on the floor attracts dust bunnies.

I do not have any pets, but the family I live with has a number of dogs. I think “we” have four of our own, and a rotating cast of visitors. In this house, we are not cat people, and I am somewhat grateful. Though I love cats, I do not love the smell or the mess of a litter box. When I lived alone and had Asher, I bought disposable litter pans by the dozen and just threw them out every other day or so, because scooping a permanent one made me so sick to my stomach. So far, the only pet I have had complete and total success with is fish. I can keep a goldfish alive for years, and it makes me happy to pay five cents for a goldfish and watch it grow to mini-koi. In order to do this, the setup is expensive, but once setup is done, you can make an environment that sustains itself.

Oh, now I am on my soapbox, because I’ve come across something about which I’m truly knowledgeable.

The biggest mistake that people make with goldfish is that they don’t change the water enough. Goldfish are nasty. Gorgeous, but nasty. Their ammonia levels get really high, really quick, which is why it is inadvisable to keep them in a bowl…. unless you want to change the water almost every day. If you are going to keep goldfish, splurge on the most expensive filter for your aquarium that you can afford. If you just buy a ten-gallon kit, the filter it comes with will not turn the water over fast enough if you have more than one goldfish in the tank…. and by “turn it over,” I mean the amount of time it takes for the entire ten gallons to be refreshed by activated charcoal. I generally buy a 20-gallon filter for a 10-gallon tank if there are goldfish involved. You still need to change about a third to a half of the water every four weeks, roughly, but you’ll thank yourself if you buy a Python. Before you buy one, though, make sure you know how far your aquarium is from a water source so you get the right length. There are adapters for every water source- kitchen sink, bathroom sink, outdoor hose, etc. I also take the fish out when I’m cleaning the aquarium so that the fish aren’t barraged by chlorinated water. Although, since the chemical that takes out the chlorine works instantly, it’s not that big a problem if you don’t. It’s just my preference.

The best part about buying “feeder fish” is that you can’t tell whether the goldfish is exotic when it’s that small. So, I’ve paid five cents for black moors, pearlscales, etc. You just have to keep them alive long enough to find out. 🙂

The only time I’ve ever encountered true problems is when a tank gets ich. I have not once had any luck with treating it. I just do everything I can to prevent it. The treatment is expensive and might as well say “does not work” right on the label. Believe me when I tell you this is true; I’ve kept goldfish most of my life and am not inexperienced in the slightest. It spreads so quickly that even isolating the one fish that has it doesn’t make any difference. By the time you see the white spots, it’s game over for the whole tank…. which is why I buy five cent fish. If your tank gets ich, and you’ve had the fish long enough that losing the tank will be emotionally damaging (and I do mean it…. so much work goes into keeping these fish alive that it’s hard to watch them die after two years), try the treatment and see if your fish respond to it… but I’m betting dollars to donuts that they won’t.

If your entire tank dies, the only solution is to go back to the beginning. Start with an empty tank, even taking out the gravel and running water through it (I use a colander). Make sure the plastic plants are clean as well. Scrub the hell out of the walls and bottom of the tank with one of those yellow sponges that has the green layer on top. Never, ever, ever use soap. Even if you think you’ve gotten it all out, the molecules you can’t see will still kill the fish. Once you’re sure the tank has gone back to zero, replace the gravel and plants and plug everything back in. Then, let the tank run for at least two weeks before you add more fish. Some experts say that you only need to wait 24 hours to let the temperature stabilize, but I think this is unwise for goldfish. It takes time for the healthy bacteria to grow. Once you’ve had six or seven weeks with fish in the tank, a bottom feeder is also helpful, like a cory catfish. You want to wait until there’s enough for them to eat.

Also, aquarium size is directly proportional to how long goldfish will live. The smallest rule is one inch of fish (excluding their tails) per gallon of water. Also, goldfish will grow to the size of the tank they’re in. My rule is generally three goldfish in a 20 gallon tank, because I want all of them to be yuuuuge. 🙂

Lastly, don’t put a goldfish in a desktop aquarium. Just don’t. If you only have a one or two gallon tank, one betta is more than sufficient. I named my betta “Tester.” It also helps if you play Aqua for them. Bad puns, I’ll see myself out……

Kiss My Astro

Living on the West Coast, you learn to develop a hatred for the Yankees that passes all understanding. In Portland, it’s Giants or Mariners. Sometimes Dodgers or Padres. But never, ever Yankees. Well, there are New York transplants and I’ll give it to ’em, but they’ll take more crap in a bar than any one person should in a lifetime…. Especially if the Yankees are playing any West Coast team, most likely the Mariners because they’re also in the American League.

I wasn’t a huge baseball fan until I met Susan, who went to divinity school in San Francisco. Once I learned the ins and outs (I see what I did there…), I’d even watch baseball on TV, whereas before I only liked it live while stuffing my face with nachos. I even had a t-shirt in Giants’ colors that said “Alcatraz Baseball…. three strikes and you’re in.”

I’ve only watched the Astros casually over my lifetime…. I’ve always liked Andy Pettite (traitor), Brad Ausmus, and Moises Alou… However, since I’ve been away from Houston for so long, I can name more Dodgers, Orioles, and Southern Maryland Blue Crabs than my hometown team. Hell, I can even name more Red Sox. And even though the Nationals have a horrible Walgreens logo that I will never, ever wear, I do like Bryce Harper’s ever-changing coif. P.S. I hope they rue the day they let Dusty Baker go. The Nationals did fairly well this year.

Because Dana and I were married almost eight years, that’s why I can name famous Dodgers. We agreed when they were both in the National League that we’d root for both teams unless they were playing each other. Dana is a die-hard Dodgers fan, while my allegiance is Giants and Astros, in that order.

I’m proud of the Astros, though, because they went up against a legend of a team and came out on top. Apparently, they are not so legendary this year.

Holy shit, Batman.

I just checked the national league winner and it’s………………… the Dodgers.

#plottwist

I suppose it’s official now. I don’t care who wins. I care way more that the Yankees are out, and in years past, I’ve been an accessory Dodgers fan who sat through so many games and stats on ESPN that the Astros seemed like a memory. I will be marginally happy with a team that represents my hometown, who could use such a mood lifter. Dana will be, well, Dana (loud, obnoxious blonde woman that she is)….. she will go absolutely apeshit if they win. The entire city of Houston will be able to hear her scream, or at least the southwest region. I respect that kind of fanaticism. I can’t get that excited unless a new Linux distribution is coming out.

But in the interest of our almost-decade long rivalry, Dana, your mother is a whore and your father smells of elderberries.

 

The State Dinner: Oaxaca

This is going to be “Pictures at an Exhibition” style, because there are literally no words to explain what an amazing and historical experience gave me. Pati Jinich is an amazing chef, and we have an inside joke between us.

In a couple of the pictures, she is kissing my forehead. This is because I told her that I was the one that took the ticket from my father, who got sick and couldn’t travel rather last minute. I told her that my father just adores her, to the point where my stepmom jokingly calls Pati his “girlfriend,” and that I’d told my father that if he didn’t get well and make it to the event, I (jokingly) was going to “steal her from him.” She took pictures with several people before she got to me, and I thought she’d forgotten all about that story. We took a regular picture together, which didn’t turn out that great. Then, she leaned over and kissed the side of my forehead and said quietly, well, you asked for it. I laughed so hard my insides shook, and you can tell.

So, without further ado, here are all the photos I took from last night………………….

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To InfiniMeat and Beyond

BURGERFI has a new Beyond Burger, which I was excited to try because they are all the rage with vegetarians and vegans right now. I can understand why they’re excited. It does taste like a burger. But here’s why I’m not so crazy about it….. The pictures look like the burgers are fat, like Chili’s or something. What arrived was as flat as a McDonald’s basic hamburger patty, but three times as large as the bun. Plus, it tasted like McDonald’s poor quality beef as opposed to Quorn chicken patties, which are so much better than that Tyson’s crap. Though I’m sure that the Beyond Burger contained less fat & calories than anything Mickey D’s has to offer, my official review is “meh.” I was disappointed that something that looked incredible on the menu and package at Whole Foods just fell apart all over the place, and I could have spent that money on a chickpea or spicy black bean burger that would have stayed together and tasted better.

Side note-  All Quorn products are not vegan- some are made of mycoprotein and egg whites (which, obviously, enhances the chicken flavor). If you are vegan and want to try it, vegan options will say so on the package. However, I have not tried them, thus will not even attempt a review until I have. That being said, I have not once been disappointed by Quorn. My favorite are the “chicken breasts” stuffed with goat cheese and cranberries.

Let me say for the record that I am an omnivore, and have not given up meat entirely. I have given up meat most of the time. As a cook, I am very interested in vegetarian/vegan cooking because it takes skill to recreate your favorite dishes without the use of meat, eggs, dairy, etc. For instance, fluffy crusts with olive oil instead of butter or Alfredo sauce made from cashews and nutritional yeast. As a junk food junkie, I also enjoy making “shitty bar food” healthier, such as nachos with Daiya cheddar or pizza with mozzarella shreds that melt better than the real thing. Also, pretty sure that Whole Foods’ 365 brand “hot dogs” kept me alive for the better part of a year…. I did so much with them:

  • Cream cheese and Sriracha (the non-blended chili garlic sauce as opposed to The Big Bottle™)
  • Bleu Cheese dressing, wing sauce, and shredded carrots
  • Mustard, ketchup, and vegetarian chili
  • Classic- mustard, ketchup, and sweet relish
  • Chicago- you can order the neon relish and sport peppers online

There are four really good reasons I have flipped my diet this way. The first is that I don’t have to worry that vegan and vegetarian food will spoil before I get a chance to eat it. The second is that I have to splurge on beef and chicken so that I know my source and am not advocating animal cruelty. Meat that isn’t expensive is generally because it isn’t made from animals who were actually allowed to have a life and weren’t pumped full of dyes and antibiotics…. chickens in particular. The third is that plant-based foods are infinitely more sustainable. The fourth is that when I eat nutritionally dense food, my overall mental health improves. This is not to say that I can control it by nutrition only, just that combined with medication, I am more healthy overall. I am most impressed by the healthy fats.

My obsession with vegetarian and vegan food started with a bang in two ways. The first is that I cracked an egg and noticed there was blood in it. I asked Chef Dana about it, and she said, that’s a chicken abortion. I told her I didn’t care if she was a chef/butcher or not, if she ever said that to me again I was going to force her to be vegan the rest of her life, because ew. I was only half-kidding.

Additionally, one of our neighbors in Portland, who’d also previously been a butcher, started a vegan Italian trattoria that is unfortunately now closed, despite many, many five-star reviews. I would have given it at least one Michelin star, but they didn’t ask me. That is how I became convinced that anyone could make a great meal with filet mignon, but it took work and excellence in the kitchen to create memorable plant-based dishes.

However, I feel it necessary to say for the record that vegetarian/vegan food will not necessarily make you lose weight, because so many people believe it. The difference is not caloric intake, but the types of calories you ingest. Portion control is still just as necessary… I mean, come on. Alfredo sauce made from cashews? Please.

I’ve even changed my morning coffee to better fats, because both animal and plant fat naturally bind to coffee. Trader Joe’s has what they call “Coconut Beverage,” which comes in plain and vanilla. It has the same amount of fat as 2% milk, so your coffee is still just as creamy, yet not as unhealthy as either half-n-half, or what I like to call “chemical shitstorm,” all the dairy and non-dairy fat free creamers of the world. Coconut Beverage is different than coconut milk, in that it is coconut-watered down. Pure coconut milk, while delicious, contains enough fat and calories for an entire day. A pina colada is basically three meal replacements at once.

For ovo-lacto vegetarians, I also believe in Bulletproof coffee as a breakfast replacement. Take one tablespoon of grass-fed butter (I use Kerrygold) and one tablespoon of coconut oil and throw it in the blender with eight ounces of coffee. I like to make the coffee strong AF so it stands up to that much fat, but adjust your own to taste. The reason you only need 8oz of coffee is that the little amount of caffeine plus the mind-bending nutrients of the coconut oil and grass-fed butter will keep you buzzing for HOURS without the crash later. Just make sure the coffee is still hot and that you have a blender that will stand up to the heat, because if you try to make it out of room temperature or cold brew, the butter and oil will separate. What you’re looking for is a creamy latté with much more foam on top. You might disagree with me, but I can barely taste the coconut, if at all, and just tastes like a better version of a coffee house drink that doesn’t cost five dollars.

These are, so far, the best tips I have for a nutritionally dense diet without animal fat. I will probably come up with more, but right now I have to get ready for an event tonight. I’m going to dinner at the Mexican Cultural Institute, cooked by the adorable Pati Jinich…. meat included.

The Good Place

I think The Good Place is ridiculously funny. Season one is on Netflix and season two is on NBC/Hulu. That being said, the show is not the reason for the title. I’ve been talking to an old friend about what’s happened with me over the last few years, and it’s been really hard to let those events resurface. So, this entry is going to be all the good stuff that has happened or makes me happy, for which I am eternally grateful:

  • When I went to Houston for the anniversary of my mother’s death, I got to hold “Hannah Solo” while she still has that new baby smell.
  • I am weirdly enjoying being without a car because I notice more, my endorphins are higher, and I have more energy.
  • One of the waiters I worked with at Tapalaya, Shane Torres, has a new comedy album out called Established 1981, and it made me laugh until my sides ached. Richard gonna be all right!
    • As an aside, if you can’t afford the album, you can listen to it on Spotify. But if you can spare the cash, buy it outright. Artists don’t make much money from streaming media.
  • My mother’s grave site is gorgeous, and I love the peace that comes over me when I visit. It’s a calm I can’t even measure- there are no words that match up to something so profound.
  • I’ve laughed until I’ve cried when people see my t-shirt from the Spy Museum and yell Argo @#%& Yourself in my direction.
  • News from Dan that I can’t wait to reveal after she does.
  • Getting to see Annise Parker again. I wish she was President of All Time and Space. Why shouldn’t she be? She already controls the weather.
  • Thinking extensively about the Doctor Who Christmas special.
  • The Martin Sheen episode of The West Wing Weekly.
  • Finding Monday night trivia at McGinty’s.
  • Knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that I could live in DC until the day I died and still not see everything it has to offer.
  • Excited anticipation for the Obamas’ portrait reveal.
  • Excited anticipation because I haven’t seen the African American History Museum and not only do I want to go to every exhibit, I want to eat soul food at the café until my stomach explodes.
    • This comedy routine that talks about African American History Museums. Fair warning- don’t drink anything while it’s on.
  • Laughing and joking with my dad over video calls and Facebook Messenger.
  • I see Lindsay all the time because of her job, so it was over the top to spend time with my brother-in-law, Mathew. You won’t hear me say this again out loud, but he’s funnier than me.
  • People donating to Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders for my birthday. The end total was $280…………. just mind-blowing generosity that made my birthday all the more special, especially since I was so down about it being my first birthday without my mom. It was really hard to celebrate a day “about me” when she did all the work.
  • Finding pictures of myself at my sister’s house that I hadn’t even thought of in years.
  • This song, which I first heard at the Ben Folds: Declassified concert at the KenCen, and haven’t been able to get out of my brain since. #staywoke
  • Officiating Bryn and Cory Nelson’s wedding and simultaneously facing my fears about going back to Portland.
  • Readers connecting with me in person and online.
  • Freebooksy, because my Kindle is always full and I haven’t had to pay a dime. The tsundoku is strong in this one…. but I’ll eventually get around to all of them, or at least that’s what I tell myself.
  • Fat Vampire, one of my favorite books I’ve gotten for zero dollars.
  • The Davids, Halberstam and Sedaris.
  • Munch ice cream at The Block in Annandale, Virginia…. you DO want the ice cream and doughnut panini.
  • The lifeblood that comes from deep roots and good friends.
  • IBC root beer on tap in Texas.
  • Learning how to use Instagram and Snapchat so I stop feeling less, well, 40.
  • Walking out of a liquor store chugging on a brown bottle ironically. It was ginger ale hot enough to burn my esophagus. Worth it.
  • The new sweater I got at Target because fall has arrived. Pretty sure it’s from the “Visiting Professor Collection.”
  • Prayer, from long and involved discussions with myself on discernment and clarity to the simple, end of the frayed rope “shit, God.” Anne Lamott says there are only three prayers…. “help, thanks, wow.” I feel I have covered “help” in detail………………. #prayingonthespaces

I’m sure there are hundreds more, but it was important to me to focus on all that’s gone right in the face of all that’s gone wrong. The past few years, but particularly this year, have been the most trying of my life, and focusing on the positive is the only thing that keeps me resilient and malleable regarding change. The top three stress inducers have all happened in my life within the last two years and change…. divorce, move, loss of a parent. I’d like to think that I’ve had dark moments, but overall have faced them with enormous humor, even if no one else laughed.

What’s important is that I did.