Monday, December 10, 2018

#27 - See One of My Favorite Comedians

For about the past year and a half, I have been SO into the podcast My Favorite Murder. It's two women who are into true crime, so most episodes, they each (casually) research a story of a murder and then tell those stories to each other. I love it because Karen Kilgariff is smart, funny, and real, and Georgia Hardstark drinks wine from a can, has super great cats, and seems so kind. Together, they're my favorite kind of pair: the kind of pair who complements each other and seems to see in the other an inspirational piece of themselves. Plus, I appreciate that when they say problematic things (out of ignorance), they immediately admit those mistakes, apologize, and often, make a gesture of their commitment to do better moving forward. At least on the air, they never lose themselves in defensiveness and denial, and I enjoy how they model that behavior, particularly for other white women.

So, after a year and a half of fandom, I was SO stoked that Karen and Georgia were coming to Chicago on their tour. And then, when it came to buy tickets... I realized I couldn't go.

So, there went that.

But, in one of my Murderino groups, someone said, hey, I didn't get tickets to MFM, but The Dollop is coming, does anyone want to to go that? And I was like, YES!

Maybe not an all-time favorite comedian, but I got to go to a live taping of The Dollop, a podcast I started listening to pretty religiously this year. It's an American history podcast where one comedian (Dave Anthony) tells a story from American history to his friend (Gareth Reynolds), who has no idea what the topic is... about. Sometimes, the podcasts are cry-alone-on-the-train-from-laughing funny while others expose our country's deeply problematic and really, shameful past. You never really know which one you're going to get, but I think that's partly why I like it.

Luckily, a new-ish friend and I are both into The Dollop, so even though there were not seats together, we managed to find seats 2 rows apart, met briefly before the show, and laughed about it after. It was a deeee-light. Attending live podcast tapings are now a thing I'm into.

Later that night I went to a bar that was taken over by pirates.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

#40 - Go to Another Book Signing.


I mean, I met Stephanie Izard.

You know, first woman to win Top Chef. Winner of Season 4.

Iron Chef.

Opened the Chicago restaurants Girl and the Goat, Little Goat, and Duck Duck Goat.

And also, a fellow Wolverine ('98).

And she was super chill.

The event wasn't super organized. Walking in, I thought I was in the wrong place. but after asking around, I found Stephanie just chillin the back, giving some feedback to a guy making, what I assume was, the green goddess chicken salad in her new cookbook.

So a few of us hung around until they brought out books. Stephanie apologized for not going a demo, which I wasn't expecting anyways. Then, took us one by one, signed her new book, invited us to take some snacks, and took pictures and such.

I'm terrible at small talk but was able to ask if she could write "Go Blue" as I am a fellow wolverine, and she did, and she was just chill and great.

I was fangirling so hard.

Go Blue.


I should also give credit to Robin Heggum for including me to go see a conversation with Roxanne Gay facilitated by Megan Stielstra. Roxanne Gay was... beautiful. I cannot get enough of her dry honesty and the way she is unapologetic to her fans and critics. I need to read more of her books because I think they'll help me be more honest in my own writing. I'd never heard of Megan Stielstra but I am so excited to read her work as well. It was really fun to see someone so intelligent and accomplished in her own work facilitating a conversation that was both honored Gay and treated her as a friend and fellow human. I loved it.

I didn't count this at first because we didn't met either author nor get our books signed, but I suppose the main purpose of this item on my list was to join in community in celebration of the power of the written word and the authors who choose a difficult profession and to share their work with their readers. I find it very powerful to be in those spaces, knowing everyone there has been moved by someone's words enough to show up and hear more.

Friday, November 30, 2018

#30 - Go to a Therapist

I'm a person who has always believed that everyone benefit from therapy. We all have things our brain has gotten twisted that then cause us suffering or frustration or anxiety or fear, etc. And therapy can help untangle those things and support us in learning new ways to interact with our world and ourselves. 
Never have I had such mixed feelings about a place.

But also, I've never gone.

I mean, I suppose I went once in college to our counseling center. But I remember the guy I talked to focusing on one event in my life that really didn't interest me to talk about. Reflecting on that event, sure, it hurt and gave me some trust issues, but I got over it. I also remember there was something else I wanted to talk about, and he wouldn't let me do that. So I never went back.

I've been planning and planning to give therapy another try. I felt even more strongly during my PhD program (a) when I developed anxiety, which was really weird to develop in my mid-30s when I thought I pretty well understood they way I moved through life and (b) where everyone kept telling me that the group dynamics and adult development classes I loved so much were kinda like group therapy. I was like, oh, well, these experiences certainly are challenging, sometimes painful, but they result in so much growth. Completely worth it. I felt like my cognitive and emotional selves grew so much through those experiences.

So finally, I'm back in Chicago, and I have great insurance, so I decided to check in with my nurse practitioner (NP) and get a referral for a therapist. My NP was amazing. So compassionate, kind, and active. She gave me the names of two therapists that worked with their office. So I made an appointment.

My first appointment was more of an intake session. The doctor asked me a lot of questions. I explained that I've gotten pretty damn good at managing my depression but that anxiety was new. I explained what triggered my anxiety. And then he asked me all these questions about my family, background, and present life. And then, he kinda... seemed perplexed about why I was anxious. He even fished. Like, do you have any siblings? Yes, one brother. Do you have a relationship with him? Yes, he lives in Michigan, but we get along great. Oh. And similar questioning. I figured it was just intake stuff since we only had half an hour.

Then two weeks later I went back, to his actual office. The receptionists there were so kind and gentle. There were all kinds of people waiting. Finally the doctor came to get me and took me back to his office. And his office was so... bare. Like, so bright and no personal touches. It was weird. Like sitting in an adjunct faculty's office. 

The session was... boring. Again, he kept fishing. And then he kept saying things like, well, it seems like things are going well now. And I was like, yeah... And he was like, so maybe just give it some time. And I was like, ??? Like, that's the whole thing about anxiety. It's not reasonable. I know I'm physically safe (like, as safe as one can be in Chicago). I know I'm emotionally safe and have great relationships with loved ones, friends and family. I know I'm financially stable, even if I'm not where I want to be. I know all that. And yet, I still experience anxiety. Which is unreasonable. Which is why I was seeing a therapist. 

He even cut the visit short. Like, well, let's catch up in two weeks. So I said sure, made a follow up appointment, and then cancelled it later.

It was kind of reminiscent of my first visit to a therapist. I didn't feel heard. The only thing that was triggered was my sense that this person wasn't seeing me. And I would have talked about that because I know it's something that does trigger me. But I was not interested in talking about that with this person.

I know that it takes time to find the therapist who is the right fit. I will put this back on my list next year because I'm confident I can find someone. It may just take some trial and error, maybe some referrals. 

Suggestions welcome :) 

Monday, September 24, 2018

#17 - Pickle Something

I love pickles. I love pickled things. Pickling is easy. And cheap.

Why has it taken me so long to pickle my own things?

K Rob used to pickle stuff all the time when we were roommates in San Diego. Mostly onions, of what I remember. And every time, I'd be like, dang, this adds so much to this dish.

So, I finally had my first attempt at pickling.

I started with a search on the Serious Eats website of pickling techniques. I started with the very first recipe on the article called 23 Pickle Recipes We Love: garlic dill pickles. A classic.

The recipe called for 8 ingredients. I came home from the store with 7 of them. Luckily I had bought fresh dill for a sauce for dinner, so I subbed that in for dill seeds. I'm sure that matters, but I wasn't about to walk the full block back to the store. No way. Plus, I see fresh dill in pickle jars all the time. So...

Chop, peel, boil, combine, wait.



Then, I decided to give pickled garlic a go as well. The Serious Eats article claimed that I should have been the whole garlic cloves from my pickle jars the whole time and gave me the deepest regrets of my life because WHY HAVEN'T I DONE THAT BEFORE?!

So again, on my own, peel, boil, combine, wait.


Well, I had some mixed results.

The spicy garlic dills? Delightful. Just hot enough to make the sides of my news break out in a little sweat, just like they do with McClure's spicy dills (the best pickles of all time). They had taste and enough crispness. I am so glad I can keep these on hand because a spicy pickle is my favorite cure for rough morning.

After: YES
The regular garlic dills? Nope. They tasted so much of apple cider vinegar and it was not good. However, I may try again with the same recipe with just white vinegar. Something about the acid and flavor of the apple cider vinegar made me put the pickle down, something I've never done with a pickle in my life.

Then, gem of all gems, the pickled garlic. I'm never going to need to worry about vampires again with these little guys. Yes, I ate them whole, just popped the whole clove in my mouth. I mean, not all of them. But I kinda want to eat all of them. They have that garlic bite but then they mellow out quickly and just leave a nice, clean mouth feel with that lingering garlic taste. Plus, they were so easy. I'm going to make these all the time, to snack when I need a little flavor, as a side for cheese plates, and to throw into salad dressings and other items. Yum.

I also bought pears to pickle but haven't quite gotten there yet. I'll add an update when I get to them.

#76 - Visit Tahoe

I am a sucker for a lake in the mountains. There's no place that feels more like home to me than Brant Lake, NY. The blues, the greens, the crisp mountain air, the cool lake water... My stress and anxiety melt off me within an hour of being there.

My love of that place has translated a bit where I feel refreshed anytime I'm in a lake in the mountains. From the first time I saw a picture, I had my heart set on having that feeling at Lake Tahoe someday.

My chances of finding an excuse to make the trip to Tahoe spiked when I met Mariko in my PhD program. They spiked again when Mari planned her wedding to Tim and invited me. A small wedding for someone I love to someone she loves surrounded by their loved ones, some of whom are also my loved ones in one of the most beautiful places in the world? I didn't even have to make a conscious choice.

The only downside to this trip was that I had to leave my annual week at Brant Lake with my family a few days early and fly from Albany to Sacramento at 6:00am and then drive 2 hours to Tahoe the day of the wedding. The only painful part was leaving camp. The rest of the trip was a breeze as I was so looking forward to exploring a new place.

Lake Tahoe itself is so very beautiful. It's funny. Even though I live just 2 blocks away from Lake Michigan, one of the largest fresh water lakes in the world, I was still in awe of the sheer size of Lake Tahoe. It's also so deeply blue and, in the summer, when I was there, surrounded by such deep greens and bright wildflowers.

What a beautiful day

I sat on this rock for a long while.
The wedding itself took place on a large deck overlooking the lake just before sunset. The reception was just inside. It was an incredible backdrop, and I'm so thankful to have spent a night with some of the people from my program, classmates and faculty, whom I grew to love and care for.

The next day, I had breakfast with Kai and then took my time, driving along the lake in my rental car with a fresh, local chai latte. I had to pass through some traffic on my way to Emerald Bay, but after I squeezed through a campground, the road opened up to mountain roads, sometimes just along the cliffs, looking over the lake. I drove, stopped, hiked, and wondered all day. 

Just being in such a beautiful place made me set some intentions for my future, and I'm thankful I had so much time to reflect.

One of the few proper uses of rock cairns I've seen on a popular trail
We also had a nice Saturday night where Heather won some money at the casino, and a group of us, including the newlyweds, shared drinks and stories until it was time to part. 

I am very much looking forward to the day the mountains call me back!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

#4 - Read War and Peace


Well, this took forever.

And I'm not sure why I did it.

Well, I have had a hard time focusing on reading anything lately. For some reason, my brain just zooms around and cannot focus on the words on the page. I've had to make myself sit still to even watch TV lately because I feel this constant guilt that I'm not doing enough. So, maybe a bad time to try War and Peace.

I did find the epilogue interesting, thinking about free will and the inevitability of world events.

But hey, onto other books now.

Monday, May 28, 2018

#18 - Learn to Poach an Egg

I love eggs. I particularly love a runny yolk but do not love a runny white, so I tend to favor over-medium eggs thinking poached eggs were beyond my skill set.

They are not.

Thanks to Serious Eats, I found a pretty simple step-by-step process for poached eggs, which was very similar to Ruhlman's suggestions. Basically, the issue with poaching eggs is that the protein in the whites isn't consistent, so if you just break an egg into the water, there are stringy bits that get in the way of the perfect poached egg. And no need for vinegar.

Serious Eats recommended using a mesh strainer, getting out that watery material before poaching the egg. Ruhlman's technique was similar, but the mesh strainer was easier, particularly as it could be used to place the eggs in the water and pull them out again.

I gave it a go when making a warm salad from the "Poached" chapter of Ruhlman's 20 Techniques at a Sunday night dinner with the Zanns and co.

I'll need a little practice getting the egg consistently how I want it, but overall, no issues. Poached eggs. Yum!