Monthly Archives: September 2012

Parties

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I meant to have another dinner party after last semester’s success, but I never got around to it. It’s hard hosting by myself, and while I’ll eat Everything Stew, it isn’t the kind of thing I would serve company. The other day in class I started mulling over dinner party planning, and I came up with a really delicious-sounding menu: cheese straws, beef stew topped with bacon, kale cooked in the bacon grease, homemade bread, and ginger bread with whipped cream for dessert. I figured I could mull some cider, and maybe have rum on the side for those who care to spike their drinks (my friends are all such grown-ups, with their liquor cabinets that even though I don’t drink very much I feel like I should at least be able to offer something), and pumpkin beer. We have a (non-functional) fireplace in the dining room, and I’d like to carve a pumpkin and put it in there, with leaves decorating the mantlepiece, and maybe mums on the table. It makes for a lovely picture in my head, but I’m not sure it will ever go beyond that. School is crazy, and because most of my friends from last semester are on an opposite schedule to mine whenever I have a spare moment they’re furiously busy. It would be a lovely party though.

(Pictures are all from Pintrest- a.k.a. party planning lust central.)

Sometimes

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My friends Emily and Scott always make me wish I had someone in my life. They have such a nice relationship that it gives me hope, and makes me want to be open to letting people in. I ran into them on my way home from the market this morning, and then on the bus to school I listened to an episode of This American Life that was about being alone, so the theme of the morning was Caroline Wants a Boyfriend (applications are now being accepted). Is it bad that I mostly want someone to be my built-in adventure companion? There are lots of concerts coming up that I’d love to see, but they’re far away, and these kinds of adventures are better with a buddy (even more so if the buddy has a car). I would love to have someone to share stuff with (I keep thinking that the next person I date has to come to shows with me- it’s a non-negotiable point. I want to start thinking long-term, and I won’t marry someone who doesn’t go to concerts and who isn’t willing to see Carbon Leaf as often as possible), and I was wondering the other day if my partnered classmates study more than I do because they have someone in their homes who shames them into it-it’s very easy for me to shut my bedroom door to “work”, and then plank around half the day.

On a similar note of Feelings I Don’t Want, looking at my Facebook timeline revealed my wall from 2008-2009 is entirely posts from a former friend, then enemy, now nothing, and this makes me sad. I haven’t had a ton of meaningful romantic relationships, so losing this particular friend was the most painful break-up I’ve ever had, an even now, years later, I still feel bad about it sometimes, and I kind of miss her. Of course I only remember the good times, and it’s not like she was writing “die jerk” on my wall, so her old posts don’t really give a complete picture of our (messed up, mutually abusive) relationship, but while severing that tie was the right thing to do, we did have good times. There were lots of cuddles, and heart-to-hearts, and watching Scrubs and eating muddy buddies, and I’m glad that’s the stuff I remember now, even if it does make me a little blue.

I had hoped to do some cooking today, but I still have lots of Everything Stew to get through, so I held off. Instead, I’ve been enjoying microwave mug cookies, which are much tastier than they look.

They’re supposed to be chocolate chip, but since I don’t have any chocolate chips I’ve done without, and I think adding anything else would be gilding the lily at this point. I wish I could say they’re healthy, but even using a chia egg instead of a chicken one can’t undo the fact that each cookie contains two tablespoons of sugar and one of butter. The chia seeds are a nice touch though, and give a pleasant bit of crunch. What they lack in nutrients however, they make up for in satisfaction, and there’s a lot to be said for near-instant gratification in the form of warm cookies.

It is a beautiful fall night, and I wish I lived in Northampton, or Geneseo, and not Baltimore, because I would love to go strolling. I discovered the Johns Hopkins Rugby House a few weeks ago, and while I don’t want to go visit, I do want to find out when and where they play so I can watch a game.

Walking around with a stomachache for the rest of my life

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Or at least until May. My mother sometimes says “It’s better to have a red face once, than a stomachache for the rest of your life”, and while it’s (probably) true, it doesn’t make the red face part any easier. I don’t like confrontation, but that doesn’t mean I won’t tackle things head on, and while I’m fully capable of bearing my teeth in a fight, I’m usually more likely to roll over and show my belly. I don’t like fighting. I’ve felt positively anemic all week from the stony silence in my apartment, and I don’t think it’s worth it, since I have literally nothing to gain. When I asked my dad what I should do he told me to bake some cookies, and apologize. My immediate reaction was one of outrage- why should I apologize? What would I even be apologizing for? And then what? We act like friends, after everything that has transpired, and while injustice still stands? (I am a drama queen, you don’t need to feign surprise.) I vetoed the idea on the grounds that it was intolerable- I refused to even consider the notion that apologizing might change anything, and the idea that my roommates might be allowed the satisfaction of thinking they were right only further proved that my dad didn’t know what he was talking about (wait for it- this isn’t a post about my dad’s bad advice). I told myself that I was fine with the way things were- sure they sucked, and I felt uncomfortable going to the bathroom because it’s shared, and what if one of my roommates walked out of their room?, but that isn’t the case, and I don’t think I want to live like this for the next year. I know it sounds fun, but it’s tiring, and I may have to be the one to break the silence. On the plus side, as my friend Judy pointed out, this will give me the moral high ground, which I love. The only issue is that I don’t want to do it- I don’t want to be at peace with these people, I just want to be able to pee without worry. I don’t want to apologize, and I can’t emphasize this part enough- I don’t want them to think they were right. But I have to do it anyway. It will be a big step for me if I pull it off, but I’m certainly dreading the conversation.

In other news, mug cakes may suck, but mug cookies are kind of great. Ok, great might be overstating it a little, but they are good. I made mine with a chia egg, so it looked horrible, and I didn’t take a picture, but it was a pleasant treat after a long day at clinical. I’d kind of like another, but I’m doing my best to resist.

Hollow

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I have been starvingly hungry all day, no matter what I eat- I seriously feel like The Very Hungry Caterpiller. The obvious solution- eat something- isn’t feasible right now, so I just have to stick it out, but while sometimes feeling hungry can be nice, since then you really appreciate it when you eat, feeling empty all day is a drag. Fortunately, there will be pizza at Birth Companions tonight (it’s the last class! I’ve already signed up for a few births in the upsoming months), but that’s an hour away, and so useless.

This morning kicked off with a test, and now I’m filled with that post-test surge of relief. It wasn’t perfect, but it was easier than I expected, so I feel good about that, but now I just want to plank around, and I can’t- I have to keep working. Wednesdays are usually nights off because of contra dancing, but I’m seriously debating whether I should go tonight. It’s the last free night, and I love going, but I’m wiped out. Dancing will probably recharge me, but it’s like psyching myself up for a run-no matter how much I know it will feel great, getting myself out the door is a struggle. A not-small part of me wants to just go home after class and crash, and make a mug cake, and watch Private Practice, but I know that if I do that my night will be like one big mug cake- unsatisfying (seriously, I’ve made them like half a dozen times, and they are never good. You’d think I would just give up).

A (very) poor man’s risotto

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This weekend flew by, and I really didn’t accomplish very much (but I did run 11 miles. Whoo! Go me!), but when I got out of class on Sunday I had one priority for the small window of time between getting home and leaving for the Avett Brothers concert- cook for the week. Sure, I could have used that time to study, but I didn’t know when I’d get another uninterrupted crack at the stove, and I really didn’t want to bring dry ramen noodles for lunch today, so I picked food. I can’t study without fuel anyway, so really cooking helped me be a better student.

I had lots of odds and ends to use up, so I pretty much just dumped everything in my dutch oven and hoped for the best. I’m almost out of olive oil, so I sauteed a large onion in butter, and then things started to get…creative. I was sort of trying to make something that I could live off of for a week that would have protein, and vegetables, and be satisfying enough that I wouldn’t wind up with overpowering carb cravings mid-week- I was essentially creating my own version of nutraloaf. It was originally supposed to be soup, then stew, but it ended up with an almost risotto-like texture. Nevertheless, I’ve dubbed it “Everything Stew”, and it isn’t actually bad, though it isn’t the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It has potatoes, squash, zucchini, lima beans, lentils, brown rice, tomatoes, garlic, cabbage, and chicken stock, and I’ve been eating it on top of kale. Seasoning was an issue, but I got a lot of rosemary in my CSA basket this week, so I used a bunch of that, and some dried thyme, bay leaves, Tabasco, salt, pepper, and lots and lots of vinegar (I used balsamic and apple cider vinegar). It’s a little sour, and I thought about going back and adding some sugar to balance the flavors, but I’ve decided that it’s supposed to be like that.

So. Much. Stew.

I brought some Everything Stew for lunch today and felt very satisfied and full for most of the afternoon (I also had carrots, but they’re a grim snack when I don’t have hummus, especially when my friends are eating pastries. It’s hard not to have food-envy sometimes). Mondays are long days though, and by the end of my last class I was more than ready to come home and have dinner. I pretty literally only have Everything Stew, so I knew it was either that, instant noodles, or Grapenuts for dinner, but I had a secret weapon up my sleeve- local bacon from the farmer’s market. I bought it a few weeks ago, and it had been sitting in the freezer waiting for times of hardship. Things might get worse, and I might regret not saving it, but as I fried it, and the delicious bacon aroma filled the kitchen I felt great about my decision. I ladled up a bowlful of stew, popped it in the microwave, and then sauteed some kale in the leftover bacon grease while it reheated. I felt very connected to my Irish ancestors as I sat down to my dinner of potatoes, cabbage, and bacon, and you know, they were onto something, because it it was a tasty, hearty meal.

I was still a little hungry after dinner, so I had a big mug of hot chocolate for dessert.

I used unsweetened cocoa, and chose to go with semi-sweet instead of sugar-bomb, since really sweet things tend to leave me craving even more sugar. It was a cozy end to my meal, and so good that I ran my finger along the bottom of the mug after I had finished, just so I wouldn’t waste any of the bitter, rich chocolateness.

Things are tight right now, and I’m stressed with school, and unhappy in my home life, but these are also some of my happiest ever times. Seeing The Avetts last night reminded me of just how good I have it. I originally bought the tickets for my friend Josh’s birthday, but he couldn’t get off work, so I improvised, and invited my new friend Alyssa. She’s a very new friend (this was our first time hanging out outside of clinicals), but I like her a lot. I knew I had made the right call when she picked me up for the show and offered me a beer for the ride, and produced a nice pumpkin beer that I enjoyed while she drove us downtown. Alyssa had never heard of the Avetts before I invited her to the show, but she had done her homework and listened to some of their stuff to prepare, and we were both pretty pumped. The show was sold out, and the Ravens were playing, but traffic was actually reasonable, and we found parking without too much trouble.

I had bought lawn seats, but when we were able to get closer by standing on the fringes of the seating, so we were actually relatively close to the stage. There wasn’t any opener- they just jumped right in, and it was awesome. I saw The Avett Brothers at Artpark (last year? Two years ago?), and they were great, but I had never really listened to them before, so last night’s show was more meaningful. It was a great crowd- friendly, enthusiastic, but polite, and very very plaid-clad. I’m not such a die-hard fan that I recognized every song, but they played “Murder in the City”, and “I And Love And You”, so I was happy. I was more than happy really, I was in great spirits all night, bouncing, and singing along when I knew the lyrics, and dancing my heart out. Concerts are honestly the best, and it was nice having someone there to share it with, especially since I had half-expected to go by myself when Josh’s plans didn’t work out.

I have lots of studying to do tonight, but as overwhelming as things are, I can’t help feeling good. Things with my roommates are crummy, but my friends have been incredible, and just having their support makes it feel less dire, and is helping me keep perspective and not sink into total passive-aggressive bitchiness (I won’t be baking my roommates cookies anytime soon, but I can manage polite silence, which seems to work for them too).

I heard this song last night, I think for the first time, and it just worked for me. “If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die.” Darn right.

Downsides

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I ran 11 miles with my friend Emily today, and it was actually decent. It felt better than last week’s 8, despite the hillier course, probably because I had sports beans and water with me. Emily is a better runner than I am, but she was happy to go at my pace for the most part, and we had a pleasant time. I’m not going to break two hours this half, but that’s ok. It would be nice, but it just isn’t in the cards.

While we were out running we passes a bookcase on the street, and afterwards we went back and I bought it. My books have been on the floor since I moved in, and it looks much better this way. I also have a place for a bedside reading lamp now, which is helpful. It’s open on the sides, which is good for reaching stuff from my bed, but makes my book situation a little precarious. I may have to figure out some bookends.

I had high hopes for the day, but it didn’t pan out the way I would have liked. After I set up my bookcase I developed a raging headache, so I tried to take a nap with limited success. My friend Scott came to fetch me for dinner at 5:00, and his call woke me up, but I still felt pretty crummy. I decided to do my best and go anyway, but quickly realized that I wasn’t in any shape to be good company, so I came home, just in time to get horribly sick. I’m usually pretty healthy, but I had a flu shot on Friday, so I kind of wonder if that might have brought this on. Either way my head is still splitting, and I feel fever-y and uncomfortable. I don’t have any Advil or anything, and while I would normally borrow/steal some from my roommates I don’t feel comfortable doing that now, so I’m just pushing through. People survive without that stuff, and I can too. Scott and Judy gave me some Ibuprofen while I was at their house, and it probably had enough time to at least partially absorb before I threw up, so that’s good enough.

Being sick is the pits, but the real issue is food. It was a wretch to leave Scott and Judy’s when they had made a delicious-smelling dinner (leg of lamb. Of all the days to get sick, I had to pick the day with leg of lamb. It smelled incredibly, even through my suffering. They even had nice farmer’s market smoked salmon, but I didn’t take any because I was so nauseous), especially since I really haven’t eaten today. I had some carrots and hummus, and peanut M&M’s before my run, jelly beans during, and chia seeds and frozen raspberries in water, and ramen noodles after, but I also ran 11 miles and vomited, so that all didn’t count for very much. I had planned on making soup today, as a way of using up some odds and ends and incorporating all the nutrients I need into one easy package, but that didn’t happen. Instead, I tossed and turned in bed for a couple of hours trying to sleep through my headache, before eventually giving up and going downstairs to forage. I don’t know what I’m going to eat this week, I honestly don’t. I have carrots, but no hummus (I was going to make more today, but that didn’t happen), and a withered zucchini, and about 1/4 of a cabbage, and lots of kale (I don’t even have eggs, because I missed the market today to go running). There’s potential, but everything requires cooking, and I wanted something quick so I could get back to bed as soon as possible. In the end I microwaved a potato that I ate with butter, salt, and pepper. Instead of having lamb. Sigh. Because I can be thankful for small favors I do appreciate my stomach accepting the potato, but it made for a grim dinner.

My head is still killing me, but I’m not actually tired, so I’m watching Heidi. I have to be back in fighting condition by tomorrow- it’s one thing to waste a day and miss a dinner, it’s another thing entirely to bail on an Avett Brothers concert. And doula training. I do not have time for this malarky.

Auras

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I was still upset about my roommate situation this morning when I came into clinical, and so I told my friend J. all about it, hoping for sympathy and wisdom. J. is one of my very favorite people in Baltimore, and I really trust her opinion on things, so I was a little surprised when she listened to my story and plans for handling the situation (get a kitten despite my roommates having said no, learning to play concertina (a process I imagine is akin to learning to play bagpipes as far as annoying people in the general vicinity) and told me that she was sorry things hadn’t gone well, but not to let my uncomfortable living situation change me. Don’t let it change me? I immediately felt ashamed, like I had revealed some dark part of myself, my small, petty, passive-aggressive self, and she hadn’t realized and didn’t want me to become something that I already am, which is awful. I’ve already been worrying that this is just another example of Bad Caroline rearing her head (because nice people don’t get into these situations. Coincidentally, the last time I found myself living with people who disliked me my room was also at the top of the stairs, and disappointingly small (I was Residence Life in college, a position that did very little for my popularity in the house. The small room wasn’t a big deal, but I was a senior, and it was the smallest room of my Smith experience)) and causing Drama. I was instantly contrite, and vowed to reconsider my plans (upon review I decided that I want to learn to play concertina because it’s pirate-y and awesome and probably easier than the accordion. The kitten thing was tricky. I genuinely want a kitten because they are rad, but I have some mixed feelings about bringing a cat into this contentious situation where it will be a permanent source of strife. Can I in good conscience bring an innocent animal into that position? Stay tuned to find out!). The not letting things change me stuck in my mind though, so I approached J. later in the day and clarified that while I was upset I wasn’t so angry that I was going to turn into a horrible vengeful person (I already have the capacity to be that person, but A) I’m not going to give into those urges, and B) she’s a new friend, she doesn’t need to know about my Dark Side just yet). Because she is a sweet, wonderful person, she reassured me that she didn’t mean I shouldn’t stand up for myself, she just meant that living with the kind of hostility that I’m dealing with can change people, and then she told me she sees auras, which is how she knows about the damaging effect of roommate drama. So living here is ruining my aura.

I wanted to ask her if she could see my aura right then, and if she could, what did it look like, but I didn’t because it seemed like a touchy subject. She told me about the aura thing with some embarrassment (hence the initial instead of her name. I have lots of J friends), and while I don’t really cotton to the idea of auras I adore her, and so would be willing to go with it if she told me it was orange or something. The thing is, I half wish there was some real way of detecting that kind of thing. There’s a part in Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close where Oskar wishes that people turned colors according to their feelings, so you’d know not to yell at someone if they’re green, or to pat a pink person on the back and tell them “congratulations!”, and while it would be impractical (I’d rather my roommates not know just how hurt and angry I am- I want to seem cool and collected, not rattled and upset), it would also make things easier. Of course, that’s assuming people would show empathy and not act like jerks, and I’ve recently been reminded that that isn’t how people operate. If J. could really see my aura she would be able to tell that I’m sometimes Bad Caroline, and that would mean she had decided to be my friend anyway because I’m also sometimes Good Caroline.

These kind of situations always shake me up and make me worry about every failed relationship I’ve ever had. I don’t want to be a bad person, and until last night I felt pretty kickass and like a good person, but it can’t always just be that other people are jerks. If J. can see my aura I hope it’s a good one- I could use a Character Barometer right about now.

The harder they fall

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So I’ve gone for on top of the world to the bottom of the heap in no time at all. My home situation is terrible, and I just found out that I did really badly on a test. So, all in all, I’m glad this week from Hell is over, even though I’m going to be cleaning up after it for the foreseeable future.

The part that really makes me angry though, is that my exciting surgical adventure was totally overshadowed by all of my stupid garbage. I got to watch surgeons use screwdrivers and brute force to put a man’s face back together, and it was nothing short of incredible, but now I’m all focused on roommates and grades, and it kind of pisses me off. It was probably the coolest thing I’ve seen in nursing school, but I didn’t get to bask in it at all. It’s just plain wrong.

The roommate thing is too bad for the internet, but boiled down to its essence, I might be looking for a new place. I’m going to try to stick it out, but my poor test grade just reenforced how important it is that I have a good place to live where I can work and focus, and not be distracted by tension and drama. It would make my life easier if that place could be this place, but I’m not sure if that’s possible.

After things went completely downhill last night I realized two things: I do want a kitten, and I also want to learn to play the concertina. I never practice my mandolin anymore, so I need to get back into that to prove to myself that I can commit to another instrument before I’ll invest in one, but it’s something I’d love to play. The kitten thing is just a fact: I want one. I want one even more if I do stay, since I think it would help make things more bearable if someone other than Flora is happy to see me when I get home (Flora is lovely, but I don’t think she is actually ever happy to see me. Startled, yes, but happy? I think she likes me, but she’s most comfortable when I’m being very still and not looking at her). I’m going to wait a little bit though, since I don’t know what my plan is, and moving with a cat would complicate my life even more than moving during the middle of the semester when I don’t have a car would anyway, which is already a considerable complication.

Caught in a storm

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I moved through my day today with a Plan. I was going to take my research test, go to the grocery store and buy white vinegar, come home and wash the kitchen floor and make biscuits that would be so delicious that my roommates would be completely open to rent negotiations. Of course it didn’t go that way though. I’ve seriously baked for this conversation on three separate occasions only to not have it work out- the universe doesn’t want me to serve baked goods when we finally do talk things out.

I should’ve known things weren’t going to work out when I got out of school and saw the gathering storm clouds, but I fought my way through a torrential downpour to get to the store. I arrived soaked to the skin (seriously Baltimore, your gutters suck. I was wading through calf-deep water), and bought my vinegar, leaving a trail of water in my wake. Mopping the floor was a quick enough job, and the biscuits came out like little bready balls of goodness, but C.B. has class until 9:00 tonight, a fact that I knew, but temporarily forgot, and so it was for naught. Tonight wasn’t a good choice for the talk anyway- we all have tests tomorrow, so nerves are frayed, and no one wants to take a study break to argue about money. On the plus side…

Carb craving: satisfied.