I’ve decided that I’m tired of being on my own, and that I’d like to be married. My classmates are all married, or as good as, and I want some of that sweet sweet emotional support. It’s been a hard week, with the pet drama, and now a big scary storm, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to be on my own anymore. I always planned on getting a dog before a husband, or serious boyfriend, just to avoid complications if and when we broke up and there was any dispute over who should keep the dog, but I’m willing to mix up my timeline if it means getting to be with someone who will keep me company, and get me (my Baltimore friends are great, but they know me very well yet, and they think I’m much more prudish and humorless than I am. I feel gratified every time I make them laugh, but also a little offended that they’re so surprised that I’m funny). I’ll admit that worries over aged pets and fear of lightening aren’t great reasons to jump into a relationship, but I don’t care, because this being single thing is officially malarkey. This is a very scary storm! I actually moved off my bed because it’s next to the window, which is next to the fire escape, and I don’t think that’s how science works, but why risk it? Except I’m not going to sleep on the floor, especially since I’ve managed to step on shards of glass every morning this week (the globe from my ceiling fan fell and smashed, and I’ve gone over the floor with a wet paper towel a dozen times, but glass shards are much more attracted to my bare feet). Now I don’t actually have a plan for meeting anyone, but I’m just tossing it out there that I’m ready, and hoping the universe sends someone my way. I’ve bee doing things that I like that relate to my interests, but it’s unlikely that I’ll meet anyone at nursing school, contra dancing, or Quaker meeting, so those aren’t helpful. Should something crop up though, I’m now willing to keep an open mind, at least as long as my stress holds out, and it’s a month until finals, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
This week has been quite the emotional roller coaster, and I’m more than ready for it to be over. Until this morning I wasn’t sure that my cat would live through the week, so I spent a great deal of time sobbing, and being utterly miserable. I know that pets can’t live forever, but that doesn’t make it any easier when they do go, and being faced with the idea of losing her was horrible. She’s on the mend, but it’s hard to feel completely relieved, since I know what’s in store now, and how bad I am at coping with grief. For now though, I’m just glad she’s ok. It’s terrible being away from home when there are such goings-on, and I had to seriously fight the urge to hop on a plane to Buffalo all week.
One of the things that helped me today when I was at peak anxiety, was the fact that I’m making some very nice friends in nursing school. I felt very alone last night, when things were at their worst, and lamented the fact that while my parents have each other, Lillian has her camp besties, and Emily has Joshua, I’m by myself. My roommate is away for the weekend, and I spent a very bleak night alone in my apartment crying myself to sleep. Grief is probably the best argument for being in a relationship that I can think of right now, but I actually do have a great support in my new friends, who were wonderful today. I can be very hesitant to form new bonds, and yet somehow all of these caring, sweet people have found their way into my life. I can’t explain it, but I’m very grateful.
Now that things are settling down a bit I feel like I can finally breathe again. I never really addressed yesterday’s issue of no food (Caroline B. made me dinner last night, and then gave me the leftovers since she was going out of town, so I didn’t have to think about dinner yesterday, or lunch today (or dinner today, since I didn’t pack much lunch, in an attempt to escape emotional eating), so today after school I went to the grocery store and did a lots of shopping. I know the week isn’t over yet, but sitting on my bed, watching Buffy, eating ice cream with strawberries, and drinking wine out of a jelly jar (because I’m classy) is the perfect tonic after a week like mine. The only thing that could make it better would be if my kitty were here with me.
Because I spent all of Saturday cooking I had to spend all of Sunday pegging away at my books, and that meant that I didn’t get around to cooking for the week. I suppose I could have made time, but while I heartily enjoyed my day in the kitchen I wasn’t in the mood to repeat it right away, and I figured I could make do until I had some time later in the week, even though I know that time is harder and harder to come by as the week progresses. I’ve fallen into this before, and what inevitably happens (and happened again this week) is that I run out of food. I have lots of rice, and quinoa, and lentils, but those things need to be prepared beforehand, and so at 6:30 in the morning when I’m trying to get lunch together they’re about as useful as bags of sand. I also have lots of kale, but a girl cannot live on kale alone, and so I really do need to plan better. Sigh.
Breakfast this morning was not photogenic, but I had overnight oats in a jar (I want to dislike them but I can’t. They’re kind of gross and pasty, but they’re filling, and a nice cold breakfast for hot mornings). I don’t have any interesting things to add in (like fruit), so it was just yogurt, milk, oats, and peanut butter, which was really boring, so I mixed in the last of my citrus tequila marmalade, with interesting results. Because the theme of the day is not having any food, I also finished off the last bites of granola in the jar, and so now I’m out of jam and granola, and I really do only have kale and grains. And yogurt. I decided that while straining my yogurt makes it more delicious, it also means I have less yogurt (and more whey, which I then have to use), so I only strained half the batch to make it last longer. When you have as few food options as I do it’s surprisingly possible to eat a gallon of yogurt in two weeks (except once it’s strained it’s more like a half gallon, which is still a ton of yogurt).
It’s Dancing Night tonight, which is what’s going to sustain me during the day. This week was supposed to be relaxed, with its only-one-test-on-Monday, but there’s no rest for the weary, and I always have something due. It’s tiring, but I can’t really complain, because I honestly love my life right now. Today I’ll slave away in the patho mines, and tonight I’ll kick up my heels and try to score some free bruised produce. What’s not to like about that?
I’m going to run the Baltimore Half Marathon. I’ve been thinking about it for awhile now, and I just decided today. That isn’t the exciting part though, the exciting part is that I’m going to train for the half. For real, with a training plan, and building mileage, and long runs on the weekend, and tapering, and everything. The whole training-for-a-half shebang. I’ve never done it before (the first time I ran a half I had never run more than an 8k before race day), but they say it’s a good way to improve, and not injure yourself, so I’m going to give it a try. I suspect it’ll be hard, which is unfortunate, but character-building, and I’m planning on buying a calendar tomorrow (I needed one for school anyway, so the training thing just happens to dovetail nicely with this particular purchase), and stickers, to mark the days that I run, as means of a reward. The tricky part of training is going to be timing, and I’m afraid I’m going to have to get back into rower’s hours, and wake up at the crack of dawn, because it’s too hot and I’m too tired to run after school. I’ve done that before, and it suited me nicely though, so I’m not too worried. I’m actually pretty pumped to get started- I mapped out this week’s running route, and set up food for pre- and post-run breakfasts, and I’m going to pack tomorrow’s lunch tonight, just to make sure I have enough time in the morning. It’ll be good to have a fitness goal, and my roommates might run too, so I’ll have company on my long training runs (though probably not on my dark and early weekday runs). It’s good to have a plan.
Yesterday was great, but today I need to deal with this upcoming week. I’m going into my fifth week out of ten this semester, and while it sometimes feels like I’ve always been here, in other ways I’m still getting my balance, especially after all my recent tests threw off my schedule. That’s the new normal now though- the shortened semester doesn’t leave much time for recovery after tests, and while the first few weeks weren’t too too crazy, things aren’t going to slow down much between now and August.
I have a long day of studying ahead, so I made sure to fuel with a good breakfast. There was leftover roasted garlic from last night, and I made delicious savory French Toast.
You don’t see a lot of breakfast garlic, but you should. This stuff knocked my socks off, in the best possible way.
And now to my books.
There’s a part of The Secret History where a college professor and the protagonist, a student, are talking, and the professor is surprised to hear that the student considers his classes to be work. “I should think of it as the most marvelous kind of play.” the professor says (in essence, I can’t find the quote online, and I’m unwilling to dig through the book to find it myself). Technically, I’ve been working all day, but I honestly had so much fun, and enjoyed the reward so very much that it never once felt like work.
I had my first ever grown-up dinner party tonight, and I couldn’t have been more pleased with how it went. I owe a great deal of my success to the fact that I put absurd amounts of time and effort in, but I had such a pleasant time that I wish I could throw a dinner party every weekend. Inviting people was easy, planning the menu was a wonderful game, shopping was delightful, and the actual cooking kept me entertained all day. I took Caroline B. to the market this morning (she’s lived in the area for more than a year, but she had never gone, and it was nice to see how much she enjoyed it. She mostly just browsed, but she did buy a little parsley plant, so now my basil has a friend), and I bought some frugal groceries (the essentials- kale, zucchini, and eggs. I had to work dinner party extras into my budget, and I’m proud to say I managed nicely. Most of my meals during the work are so simple, and consist of such cheap items that I am able to live very affordably if I manage to ignore the part of my brain that nudges me towards things like corn, and fancy farmer’s market hummus.). We stopped in at the Punjab grocery store on the way home to price meat, but the butcher wasn’t there yet, they didn’t have any ground goat, and their lamb was very expensive, so we left empty-handed.
When we got home I made approximately all the kale chips ever (I was so productive today! I actually made yogurt last night, so I woke up at 6:00 to put it in the fridge, and then I went running before the market (I think…I might run the Baltimore Half Marathon in October. Maybe). And I did laundry! And roasted garlic! And made nice iced tea! I tried to make a point of being productive because I didn’t do any homework, and I think I pulled it off. There will be time for homework tomorrow), and baked this week’s loaf of bread. I think I must have offended the Bread Gods though, because this loaf was my not the raging success that I’ve come to expect. There was a slight mix-up with yeast, and it was very hot and humid while the dough was rising, and the bread came out kind of…flat. It did rise, but it was just so wet that it couldn’t hold itself up, and the end result was a flatter-than-usual, dense loaf (but it didn’t burn!).
I meant to go back to the Punjab grocery, but I had to go to Giant for napkins (which we didn’t have, because we’re uncivilized), and pasta, and it just happened that their lamb was considerably less expensive, so much that I couldn’t pass on what was a much better deal. I love supporting local businesses, but I am a student, and lamb is such a luxury anyway that I couldn’t purposely pay $2/lbs more. I also bought a tub of vanilla ice cream, because while it’s less hot today than it was yesterday, I figured my guests would appreciate a cold dessert, (and because I saved on the lamb the ice cream fit nicely into my dinner party budget).
I’ve helped with lots of dinner parties before, but tonight I flew solo for the first time ever, and I think it went as smoothly as it did because I prepped everything that I could beforehand. I made a mise en place, and put all of my little cellophaned bowls of chopped onions, and minced garlic in the fridge so that everything would be ready as soon as it was time to go, and it made a huge difference. I was slightly nervous, because the meal I choose requires that the sauce be made right before it’s served, and I didn’t really have a co-host to entertain while I cooked (Caroline B. was there, but I thought of her as one of the guests, since I didn’t consult with her before inviting people, so I didn’t want to inconvenience her), but everything worked out well. We don’t have a living room, so everyone just congregated in the kitchen, and I was able to play hostess and cook at the same time (everyone gets along really well too, which helped a lot).
Planning the menu was a lot of fun, but I kind of knew what I was going to make before I even invited people. It’s pleasant to play around with different ideas, but I have a dinner trump card, and I played it tonight- ground lamb with yogurt sauce. Boom. It’s easy, it’s delicious, and lamb is a special occasion meat, so it makes people feel festive. I toyed with ideas for mixing it up a bit (not that I needed to, since I had never made it for any of my guests before, but just for fun), and thought about serving it over couscous, or rice, but in the end pasta won out, and I served it with farfalle. Why mess with success? The whole menu was something pretty special, so I’m just going to cut to the chase and lay it out: kale chips, fresh homemade bread with butter and/or roasted garlic (the garlic was a big hit, which I found gratifying. It was a little detail, but I’m glad I made the extra effort, because having the heads of roasted garlic in little dishes on the table made it seem very fancy), ground lamb with yogurt sauce over farfalle, roasted zucchini with onions and bell peppers, cucumber yogurt salad (provided by my friend Emily and her husband Scott (it went really well with my stuff though, which was nice. We probably used a total of six heads of garlic for this meal, so vampires beware)), and rhubarb crumble with vanilla ice cream. So yeah.
What was really nice was how impressed and appreciative everyone was. I had been kind of nervous, and when people were late showing up I had some grim childhood birthday party flashbacks (yes, as a child I had not one, but several birthday parties where no one showed up. I blame being born in late December- everyone is all celebrated out. I also went through a challenging phase around that time where I didn’t tell people that it was my birthday party, I just sort of invited them to vague events, and then felt incredibly wounded when they flaked. But it’s best not to dwell, especially after my lovely party tonight), but things were just wonderful. I was praised to high heaven on the deliciousness of the food, and my mad hostess chops, and it went straight to my head, but I was mostly just over the moon that people were enjoying themselves.
The party broke up around 10:00, and I set to the dishes, which can be a very pleasant task after a party. I put on some Barenaked Ladies, and put away the food, and straightened things up so they won’t be in the way tomorrow morning. When I stop to think about it, I worked all day, but everything felt so pleasant that it was never a bother. I’ve been on the go since 6:00, and I’ve covered a lot of ground, but I feel more accomplished than tired (not that I’m not enjoying relaxing now that I have a minute to sit and reflect. Just sitting down and putting my feet up felt amazing). Tomorrow will be slower-paced, and I think I’ll try to sleep in a bit, but I had close to a perfect day today. I’m so glad that things are falling into place, and I’m making friends, and that I just get to be in Baltimore, working towards becoming a nurse, and ultimately a midwife. I’m very blessed, and tonight really reminded me just how lucky I am.
I somehow managed to forget to take pictures of the individual plates, but I got this one of the table.
And this one of the crumble, which was incredible. I was a little sorry that there wasn’t more rhubarb, but it was a hit, and people actually said they thought the topping: filling ratio was just right. I made the topping using a stick of butter (this meal was big on butter and garlic, so you know it was good), a cup of raw oatmeal, 1/3 cup of flour, a teaspoon of baking powder, four tablespoons of brown sugar, and three of white. It was de…wait for it…licious. Delicious. 🙂 (And I used lime juice instead of lemon on the rhubarb, because limes are better than lemons.)
Caroline B. had the foresight to take this nice roommate picture. It’s too cleavage-y, but I think it’s otherwise good. I need more modest tank tops, but whenever I buy them, no matter where I live, they disappear in my parents’ house. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle.
A few months ago I remember telling my friend Riva that I’ve been looking for MY place, the place where I’ll fit in, and be at home, for a long time, and that while I loved Smith, it wasn’t it, but that maybe I’d find it soon, that I felt like I was getting closer. I’m not sure yet if this is it, but when I go to bed feeling as happy as I have lately it makes me think I must be onto something good.
Dancing last night was brilliant. It was a million degrees out, I had just had a patho test AND a clinical skills sign off (I passed! Whoo!), but I was determined, so after trying on a million different outfits looking for one that would be cool enough to dance in but wouldn’t make me feel ungainly (not an easy task. I need to get back into an exercise routine), I put on my dancing shoes (aka TOMS), and headed over to the church.
I got there a little late, so I sat out the first dance, but after that I didn’t miss a single one. It was wicked hot, and everyone was sweaty, but I had an absolute ball. I love contra dancing. There were a lot more inexperienced dancers last night than the last time I went, but we all muddled through, and I think I’m starting to improve already. My partners were all very patient and encouraging, and I had a ton of fun. Not only did I do every contra dance, I actually danced both waltzes too, which were so incredibly fun. I went to ballroom dance classes when I was in middle school, but I’ve pretty much lost all of my mad dancing skills since then, so I relied heavily on my partners, but we were very twirly and fancy. It was great.
Something I missed last time by leaving early was refreshment time. About an hour and a half into the dance last night we took a break, and had watermelon, and apple slices, and pretzels, and the contra people revealed another reason I’m thrilled I discovered them- they dumpster dive at Trader Joe’s and bring all the day-old bread, and bruised apples to the dance and give them away. Granted, it sounds wicked sketch, and I steered clear of all the meat and cheese products, but I brought home a bag of slightly bruised apples and a yellow pepper, so the $6 admission goes even farther than just paying for fun times. I didn’t quite realize what was going on until most of the good stuff was already gone, but now that I know I’ll be on the lookout in the future. They had flowers too, though I didn’t take any, but it’s such a nice idea! It’s certainly very poor grad student-friendly. Truly, I have discovered a hidden gem.
There’s still a ton to do this week, but I’m feeling much better now that most of my immediate tests are out of the way. A lot of my classes weigh the first test less too, so I’ve had a chance to learn what to expect, and I can do better on the next ones without being too terribly penalized (not that I didn’t do ok, but I want to do better. I didn’t come to Hopkins just to do ok). Right now though, it’s too hot, and I’m too tired to do much more than lounge and try to catch a breeze. I need to do some reading, but I’m giving myself some decompression time first. Part of me wants to make zucchini bread tonight to give to my friends Scott and Judy who are feeding me again tomorrow night, but it’s hard to imagine turning on the oven when it’s already a million degrees in my apartment. Dinner was mercifully light on cooking, since I had pre-cooked rice that I ate cold, with wilted kale and peanut sauce (peanut butter, garlic, water, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes). Nom.
I’ll make the zucchini bread anyway, because I want to share something with them, but I might have to cut back on the baking if this heat is any indication of what this summer’s weather is going to be like.
I have an assignment, a lab practical, and a patho exam tomorrow, but then I will be free! Free! …in the sense that I have another test on Monday, but I’m not going to let that keep me from kicking up my heels tomorrow night with a little contra dancing, and Saturday, with my first dinner party!
I decided to take the bull by the horns and host an event, and now I want advice- what should I cook? I’m already paging through my favorite recipe sites looking for inspiration, but I’d love input. No one has any food restrictions, so I don’t need to worry about gluten, or dairy, or any of that jazz. If everyone is able to make it there will be eight of us- is that too many for a roast chicken? Can you feed guests quinoa? It’s supposed to be in the 90’s on Saturday, which will impact the kinds of things that I’ll want to cook and people will want to eat, but I want to make something nice. Something special. Something that will encourage other people to keep the dinner party ball rolling. I’m playing a dangerous game here, because it is very tempting to think about my exciting dinner party instead of homework and tests, but in order to earn my reward I need to not only survive my academic hurdles, I must dominate them. It is very exciting though- I do love cooking for an audience.
My test today went well. It didn’t feel great while I was taking it- I usually go through and count up the number I felt 100% on, but I was uncertain about a lot of them today, and it freaked me out so I stopped. The questions were tricky, and I actually used the full test time, which is unusual for me. The answers were posted almost immediately after the test, but I was so nervous that I almost didn’t look. I’m glad I did though, because while I didn’t do as well as I would’ve liked, I did much better than my last test. Lots of people struggled with today’s test, and there was a lot of grumbling all afternoon, but I think I’m starting to get the hang of things. I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m not afraid of washing out, or not being able to handle the work (I wasn’t seriously afraid of flunking or anything dire like that, but that first test had me a little worried). Everyone in my class is so overachieving that it’s really difficult to accept that we’re going to struggle with things, and our grades might take a hit, at least for the first semester. I was never a 4.0 student, and I’ve gotten plenty of B’s, and worse (I almost feel like I have an advantage over some of my classmates who expect themselves to be perfect. I talked to someone today who was almost in tears over her low A on the test. It was actually slightly annoying, but she’s a nice person and she was genuinely upset, so I couldn’t judge her too harshly), but these grades don’t feel like other grades, and I’ve been psyching myself out much more than usual. I’m really glad things are looking up though, and I’m hoping that since now I know what to expect I’ll do better on subsequent tests (there are certainly lots of them coming up).
Tomorrow is a clinical day, and I’m tuckered out from my test, but I’m going to try to get some serious studying in before bed. A lot of my classmates were talking about sacrificing sleep in order to cram for our tests Wednesday, but I know I’ll do better if I’m well-rested. This Nursing School stuff is exhausting enough without trying to run on fumes.
I’ve spent the better part of this weekend in my room, either studying, or pretending to study, so I’ve had a lot of opportunities to gaze at a certain picture on my wall.
It’s kind of hard to make out, but the writing at the top says “Midwife Paper Doll”, and my sister Emily made it for me for last Christmas. I really love this picture, and it does actually help me get on task, because it reminds me that the goal isn’t to get through Nursing School, it’s to become a midwife, which means grad school, which means I need to crush all of my classes in order to get into a good program. I have a long road ahead of me. That isn’t the point of this post though. What I was thinking about last night as I gazed at this little midwife, was the dog. In a prime example of attention to detail, Emily gave the paper doll midwife a toller (and gave the toller a rugby jersey!). Thinking about the drawing toller made me think about real tollers, and that led me to this video.
Tollers are noisy little guys! And jumpers! Before seeing that I had kind of assumed that if I stayed in Baltimore for my Masters I would keep my current apartment (dogs are allowed), but now I’m rethinking that plan. I told myself I could get a dog once I began working as a nurse, which might be as soon as next summer (part-time, while I’m also in school. Or I might take a year off to work and gain experience, I haven’t decided/tried applying anywhere yet. I’ve only taken one test so far, so I have some time to weigh my options still), but after thinking about it a little more, and doing a little more research, I think I’m going to have to wait to get a dog, especially if I get a toller, until I’m done with school. It’s slightly disappointing, and I have classmates who have dogs and make it work, but I think it’s the right decision.
The thing is, when I picture myself with my future toller we aren’t in Baltimore. I like Baltimore, and I’ve looked into things like dog agility training in the city, but a part of me still kind of wonders if I wasn’t meant to go to Marquette, and thinks that maybe I should apply there for my MSN. Wisconsin seems like the perfect place to raise a little red dog.